Continued from 10 Must-See Places in Uji, Kyoto for Tea Lovers – Part 2

8. Byodo-in

Chances are if you have seen what traditional Japanese architecture has to provide, you’ve seen a picture of Byodo-in. The earliest structure of the Byodo-in was built roughly 1000 years ago in 1053 and is one of the few remaining examples of the Heian-era architecture left in Japan. The Byodo-in continues to be used as religious grounds for both the Jodoin of the Jodo-shu sect and the Saishoin of the Tendai-shu sect. 

The temple consists of five different buildings including the Phoenix Hall which consists of one of the main halls and twin corridors emulated on the Japanese 10-yen coin. Wrapped in gardens, the site is emblematic of something quintessentially Japanese. 

9. The Tale of Genji Museum

The Tale of Genji may not be a household story outside of most of Japan but is considered a classic work of Japanese literature. Written in the early 11th century, Murasaki Shikibu may have possibly put together the world’s first novel (Tyler, Royall (2003). The Tale of Genji. Penguin Classics. pp. i–ii & xii.). Yes, the last ten chapters of the story take place in Uji, however the Tale of Genji Museum was built in 1998 to not only pay homage to the work itself but to provide curious minds an added level to the story itself. The museum consists of various images from the story as well as models and exhibitions to guide visitors. It helps tell the story of the Heian period through a lens of realism. The museum also includes a short film of the story in a smaller movie room as well as a library with secondary literature. 

The area offers a myriad of unique architecture and sights found nowhere in the world, however stories such as The Tale of Genji help complete the puzzle in understanding the value and amount of history that is often so easy to miss.

10. A Simpler Experience: Arigato Food Tours

If you’re looking to simplify your experience in Uji and meet fellow food and tea lovers, Arigato Food Tours is the way the go. While they provide varying tour services around the Japan, their Uji tours focus on cultural and tea components that Uji has to offer. 3 hours in duration, the tour which consists of matcha tasting, lunch at a local restaurant, the making of matcha and associated sweets and the visiting of local shops and Byodin-In temple. (Click here to learn more about the Uji Matcha Lover Tour)

Here are pictures from the tour (don’t they look fun?)

It’s hard to quantify Uji’s place in Japan. Perhaps it’s Uji’s emphasis on tea and it’s place in the community. Perhaps it’s the ease of access and the learning experience one can take away from visiting the plethora of sites. There’s something both new and old in Uji: I’d like to think Uji simply embraces this idea in a way that few places do.

Images provided and copyright held by author