Uji Overview

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Uji is a historical town located between Kyoto and Nara, famous for being one of the most important tea producing regions in Japan. It makes a good daytrip destination from either town, as it can be conveniently be reached by a 30 minute train ride from either city. The city has an estimated population of approximately 185,000 people, making it the second largest city in Kyoto Prefecture.

Uji River flows through the central part of the city. The valley around the river has been famous for its striking nature for hundreds of years, and the area has been featured in several classic pieces of literature, most notably the tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) – one of the most well known japanese novels. In 1998, the Tale of Genji Museum (Genji Monogatari Museum) opened in central Uji. The Museum commemorates the significance that Uji played in this legendary tale, and provides an interesting lesson both in the history of Uji, as well as life during the Heian Period and the story itself.

Uji has several popular sightseeing spots, with the Phoenix Hall of Byodoin, famous for being depicted on the 10 yen coin, being the most popular. This striking Heian-era temple, built in 1053, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and parts of it are also classified as a Japanese National Treasure.

The cultivation of tea started in this region over 600 years ago. Back then it was a drink consumed primarily by the elite and ruling classes, but as the art of tea production became more widespread, it slowly trickled down to the working classes too. Today, tea from Uji is well known throughout Japan due to its high quality, and even some teas that are delivered to the imperial household are produced in this region.

Today, there are plenty of shops and restaurants in Uji selling tea leaves as well as many differents tea flavored foods. You can also experience a tea-grinding workshop, tea ceremonies and tea tasting events in Uji, so the city is a perfect place to go if you want to improve your knowledge in anything tea-related.

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