Travel Tuesday: Uji, Kyoto

After two months in Japan, I have been able to travel to a few cities and many temples, mostly around Kyoto.  This weekend, I (finally) explored Uji, my host city.


Central Uji is fairly different from the area of the city I live in.  There are tourists everywhere, due to the many attractions Uji has to offer, such as temples, shrines, shops, museums, and scenic views.  Uji is also famous for matcha (green tea), and everything is matcha themed in the central part of the city.

There’s matcha ramen


Matcha gyoza


Matcha soft cream


As well as matcha shaved ice, matcha takoyaki, matcha beer, and probably much much more.

So with this much matcha, it only makes sense that we would stop at Taiho-an, the tea ceremony house.

I actually went to Taiho-an twice this week.  The first time was with a group of students from my school who are preparing for a speech contest on tourism in Uji, and the second was with a group of Kyoto ALTs.  When I went with my students we not only got to see tea ceremony in action, but we were taught how to perform tea ceremony and how to prepare the matcha.  I was super bad at it (I’m pretty sure the people who worked there hated me), but it was really cool to be able to try it out and see how much really goes into it (spoiler alert: there are a ton of rules).

The second time I visited we just saw the ceremony performed, ate sweets and drank tea.  We also sat on a tatami floor, so we had to sit on our knees which was painful (and clearly it showed, because the woman explaining tea ceremony to us told us explicitly that we could sit another way #gaijinproblems).

I have no idea what the sweets were, but they were mad good.


I didn’t get a video of the tea ceremony itself, but if you want to know more about it, check out the tea ceremony episode of my favorite documentary series about Japan:

Begin Japanology: Tea Ceremony

At the tea house we also met this super nice Japanese family who we chatted it up with for a while.  The grandmother spoke English really well, and told us she had recently quit her job as an English teacher to study French.  So basically life goals, to be honest.

After tea ceremony, we hit up Byodoin–the famous Buddhist temple featured on the ¥10 coin.


At every temple and shrine in Japan you can get a unique stamp in your stamp book, and I got my very first one at Byodoin:


I’d tell you what it means, but that would require literacy in Japanese #illiterate

After the temple we took a stroll down Uji River.  At night you can apparently take a river boat tour where you eat dinner on the boat, which we did not do but sounds very cool.

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Finally, we walked to Uji Shrine.

All in all, Uji is pretty cool.  There are plenty of things to do, and it’s perfect for a day trip if you ever find yourself with an extra day in Kyoto. If I had a bike I would definitely hit up Central Uji more often.  Hopefully soon I can hit up the places I didn’t get a chance to see this time around!

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