Have a cup of tea in Uji

June 28, 2013 § 4 Comments

Uji River. Any picture is better with sakura in it. Uji, Japan. April 2013.

Uji River. Any picture is better with sakura in it. Uji, Japan. April 2013.

If you eat enough Japanese snacks and candy, you must have came across this town’s name already. Since there are tons of green tea flavored snacks said to be using green tea from Uji. So after spending a few hours at the Fushimi Inari Shine in the morning, I hopped on the local train to spend my afternoon in the small town of Uji and ate the most awesome green tea ice-cream ever. 

Typical houses.

Typical houses.

Honestly, there really wasn’t that much happening in Uji. I didn’t find any museums there, and the very old Shine that is declared as a UNESCO site was under renovation. What I did there was just to walk around this quiet little town and admire the tranquility there, which was perfect to get away from the busy touristy activity I have for the city of Kyoto. At first, it was just some residential houses, until I came to the river. Although it was nearly the end of the cherry blossom season, there were still plenty on the tree to make it a very special sight. IT rained a little in the morning, so I still could see droplets of rain on the petals. Of course, that fresh scent you can smell from the natural after the rain.

First sight of the Uji River through the cherry blossom.

First sight of the Uji River through the cherry blossom.

Petals all over the ground.

Petals all over the ground.

Fukujuen Uji Studio.

Fukujuen Uji Studio.

I do have one mission: Uji green tea ice-cream. You can’t go wrong with Fukujuen, one of the most famous tea maker in Kyoto. They do have a flagship store inside downtown Kyoto, but there is a certain charm to go to their Uji studio. Besides a gift shop selling lovingly packed tea leaves and green tea powder, they also offer some workshops for visitors to have an in depth tea making experience (though I think it was only in Japanese). I went straight upstairs to their little restaurant. The menu wasn’t long, but they do serve some food in tea flavor which I found special. I wish I had an empty stomach, so I could try the tea flavor noodle…

Delicious hojicha.

Delicious hojicha.

Before the ice-cream arrived, I was offered a small cup of cold kabusecha and then a cup of hojicha. It was a pleasant surprise, as I didn’t expect such lovely cups of tea would be offered for ordering just a dessert.

This is the bomb. Rich flavor from the green tea, balanced by the sweetness of the red beans

This is the bomb. Rich flavor from the green tea, balanced by the sweetness of the red beans

After stopping myself to order a second round of ice cream, I walked over to the river, and saw a market fair along the river. There were some food and lots of pottery. I don’t remember where I read this, but once upon a time, the kanji of the town name “Uji” was literally “rabbit road”. So I thought it was fitting to buy a little bowl made by pottery maker in Uji with a rabbit on!

I love local markets.

I love local markets.

This side of the town has more visitors but looks very pretty.

This side of the town has more visitors but looks very pretty.

This organe-red is so striking among the pink and green.

This organe-red is so striking among the pink and green.

You can also get a ride on the boat along the Uji river.

You can also get a ride on the boat along the Uji river.

The Tale of Genji, a classic Japanese literature set in the town of Uji. Here we have the stature of Murasaki Shikibu sitting pretty by the rivier.

The Tale of Genji, a classic Japanese literature set in the town of Uji. Here we have the stature of Murasaki Shikibu (the author) sitting pretty by the rivier.

The rabbit bowl :)

The rabbit bowl 🙂

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