A Day in Uji, Kyoto


The city of Uji lies on the southern outskirts of Kyoto, along the banks of the Uji river. Visitors are drawn by its Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, and for literary buffs, its role in the Tale of Genji. It's also known for producing superior quality green tea, and is home to the oldest tea shop in Japan, and possibly the world--the Tsuen tea shop.

We didn't know any of this going there. As far as we were concerned, we were in Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, which allegedly had lots of old cultural things and was very pretty. Also, Rurouni Kenshin was set here. And geishas.

We took the Shinkansen from Tokyo station to Kyoto station one early morning, and after a pleasant and smooth train ride (and a breakfast of Muji bread and convenience store onigiri), were picked up by our cousins and friend. Our cousins had a car, so we all piled in and they carted us off to Uji.

First things first: the Uji river is lovely. Of the set of photos my sister took of our trip, the pictures of this place are what impress me the most. The scene looks like a painting: the backdrop of tree-filled hills, the curve of the riverbank, and the paper lanterns dancing in the wind. Add a scattering of sakura, and it makes a beautiful, quiet picture of semi-rural Japan.

We took photos on Uji bridge, but sadly, missed the statue of Murasaki. It was all very random: arrive at beautiful place. Scatter. Take photos of everything. My cousin: "I don't know what we're doing, but it's pretty good."

I tried a green tea bun with azuki bean filling. It was all right.

We visited Byodo-in Temple next, which was built during the Heian period. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and was formerly the villa of a courtier before it became a Buddhist temple. We were greeted by cherry blossom trees going in. I must mention that it was a rapturous event every single time we came across a sakura tree. Our Japan trip was set in mid-April, and in Tokyo, that meant the first wave of cherry blossoms was over--the delicate 2 or 3 petal variety everyone loved. Fortunately, that was not the case in Kyoto. The landscape wasn't teeming with pale pink blooms anymore, but we found some late bloomers in here and there.

What do I say about Byodo-in? Well, it was aesthetically breathtaking, which can be said about a lot of the structures in Japan. I envy this country's art culture. There were a lot of tourists milling around, and the Phoenix Hall itself (pictured) was only accessible if you bought a special ticket. We opted for the regular ticket, which granted us access to the temple museum, which was underground. Buddhist artefacts and artwork were on display, and I do remember a rather impressive beaten-metal relief of several deities. We spent around an hour and a half at Byodo-in Temple, before piling back into the family van to grab some lunch on the way to Nara.

From japan-guide.com: Uji Bridge is a 5-10 minute walk north of JR Uji Station or just south of Keihan Uji Station.

Renge-116 Uji
Kyoto Prefecture 611-0021

Photos by the illustrious Abby Portugal

You may also like

Powered by Blogger.