Mar. 31, 2017 UPDATE

Grand Tour of Uji

World heritage sites, going back in time to the Heian period, plus the best bakeries in Kyoto, all in Uji, all revealed in this article!
Vanessa[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]

Whenever you speak of Kyoto, you inevitably think of matcha. That's why you should visit Uji for a matcha pilgrimage! Apart from matcha, historical sights such as the Byodo-in Temple and the Tale of Genji Museum have incredible significance for the people of Japan. I highly recommend that you visit Uji for a cultural and culinary adventure! (It's not that far from Kyoto!)



People who like matcha have probably heard of Uji matcha. But aside from matcha, there  are many World Cultural Heritage sites in Uji.

 The itinerary for this trip is as follows: Lunch at ROBA → Byodo-in Temple → Tri-colored tea dumpling at Kyoto Tatsumian → Tale of Genji Museum → Tamakitei bakery.


From Kyoto Station, I took the JR to Uji. For the return trip, I chose to take the Keihan line. It takes about 30 minutes to go from Kyoto Station to Uji, so it's not that far.



You will discover that the matcha theme shows up even on the trams, which are green.


Uji is located away from the city. I love the atmosphere and the quiet streets. It helps me forget the hustle and bustle of city life. I found this restaurant with the style of a machiya townhouse on the Internet, so I decided to have lunch here.


Japanese cuisine is healthy and refreshing, and it's always been my favorite. Eaten along with matcha cheesecake, it kicks off today's trip to Uji.



The Byodo-in Temple is the symbol of Uji. Its spacious Japanese garden makes one feel at peace.

 Two golden phoenixes stand on the eaves of the famous Phoenix Hall. When in front of the Phoenix Hall, take out a ‎¥10,000 bill from your pocket and compare the Phoenix Hall on it with the real thing.



After visiting the Byodo-in, walk around the old streets of Uji. Almost every shop sells matcha products. From ice cream to tea leaves as souvenirs, they have whatever you may want. (As a matcha fanatic, I wanted to buy everything!)




The mochi dumplings at Kyoto Tatsumian are different from regular dumplings because they are tea-flavored, and this specialty lured me in. From top to bottom, the dumpling are: sencha, matcha and hojicha flavored. The chewy and rich flavor of the mochi captured my heart!



Another place that you cannot miss when you visit Uji is the Tale of Genji Museum.



The Tale of Genji documents the life of Genji, the son of an ancient emperor, during the Heian period. The historical background also reveals a lot about the clothing trends and life of the era.

 Even if you are not that familiar with The Tale of Genji, the exhibitions here will help you understand the culture behind it. The museum also provides an audio guide in English or Chinese, which you can rent at the front desk.


After the cultural journey, I paid a visit to the number 1 bakery in Kyoto, Tamakitei. The old, smaller storefront was always filled with crowds, but because it got too popular, the bakery moved to this new storefront last year (in 2016).


By the time I got to Tamakitei it was already near sunset, so the only bread left over were these. From this, you can tell how popular the shop is!


This cultural and culinary journey to Uji refreshed my soul and my body. Most famous matcha shops are here. If you don't know what to eat for afternoon tea, Uji is your best choice! Because it's not that far from Kyoto Station and it's easy to take public transport, please come to Uji for a little adventure!


A comment from the staff
Shiho
This is the first time I went to Uji to sightsee. The quiet atmosphere of the Byodo-in and the Tale of Genji Museum are incredible attractions! Of course, there are also the famous matcha desserts, which are great for women. If you've visited all the main attractions in downtown Kyoto, I highly recommend that you visit Uji!
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