Uji (宇治), Kyoto

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To the south of Kyoto lies Uji, a small city famed for its green tea, centrally surrounded by forested hills with Uji River passing through the city and is graced with many temples and shrines, which is indicative of Uji city’s long history and rich culture.

Established in the 4th century by the semi-mythical Emperor Ojin, who is said to have built a palace here. The city really came into prominence when Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu heavily promoted tea cultivation and production in the area during his 1358-1408 reign. The area has since been well known for its superior taste and has some of the oldest tea shops in Japan.

Featuring two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Ujigami Shrine and Byodoin Temple registered in December 1994.

Ujibashi Bridge

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Ujibashi Bridge is a wooden timber bridge was first built here in 646, located at the prime spot at the entrance to the Byodoin Omotesando Street. The bridge offers some lovely, clear views of Uji and its surroundings.

Statue of Murasaki Shikibu

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On the far side of the bridge is a statue of Murasaki Shikibu, the world’s first novelist. She is the author of the “Tale of Genji” written in the middle of Japan’s “Heian Period” (9th – 12th centuries).  The tale is known as one of Japan’s foremost literary masterpieces. The final ten chapters are often called the “Uji Jujo” because the main stage of the magnificent literary work are all set in Uji city.

Byodoin Omotesando Street

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Uji is famous as a center of green tea production, and this quaint street is packed with shops selling tea and tea-related products. Here you can try tea-flavored “dango” dumplings, tea-flavored noodles, tea-flavored ice creams and tea-flavored donuts. We were spoilt for choices as we wanted to try and buy all the delicious looking goodies.

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Green tea ice creams seemed to be our favorite. It is a nice relaxing street to hang out. Just walk until the end of the street and you can see a path leading to main entrance of Byodoin Temple.

Byodoin Temple

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Byodoin Temple is one of two World Heritage locations in Uji and rightly famous for its spectacular Phoenix Hall or Hoo-do. Byodoin Temple is beautiful and different from the other temples we visits at Kyoto.

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To enter the Byodoin Temple, you need to buy a 600 yen ticket which grants you access to the temple grounds and museum.

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To view inside the Phoenix Hall itself, an additional 300 yen ticket can be purchased from another ticket desk inside the grounds. The tickets are sold for a certain visitation time that lasts for half an hour as they control the amount of people that go in.

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The museum is beautiful architecturally and quite modern. It houses some beautiful artifacts and original sculptures from Phoenix Hall for viewing up close replicas were placed in Phoenix Hall. There aren’t many pieces, but it does represent a slice of a Japanese history.

Ujigami Shrine

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Ujigami Shrine being one of the oldest shrine in Japan was on the upper portion of the narrow pathway away from the main street. Although the place was small, but the place was very quiet with a peaceful environment.

Asagiri Bridge

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In summary, Uji should not be missed if you plan to take a trip to Kyoto. Uji can be done in half a day, in about roughly four to five hours on foot. Because of the close proximity of its sites of interest within the walking distance from Jr Line or Keihan Line,  it was a beautiful place to visit. 

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Temples Access Details 

Ujigami Jinja Shrine 
Address           : 59 Ujiyamada, Uji City, Kyoto 611-0021
Hours              : 9am-4.30pm
Admission      : Free to the grounds of the shrine

Byodoin Temple
Address           : 116 Uji Renge, Uji-shi
Hours              : 8.30am-5.30pm, last entry 5.15pm
Admission      : Free to the grounds of the shrine

Getting to Uji

JR Line 

  • From JR Kyoto Station, take a JR Nara Line train to Uji (JR Station)
  • From JR Nara Station, take a HR Nara Line train to Uji (JR Station)

Keihan Line 

  • Uji can also be reached on the Keihan Line from Demachiyanagi Station, Sanjo-Keihan Station and Shijo-Keihan Station in the center of Kyoto changing at Chushojima Station for the Keihan Uji Line.
  • To get to Chushojima Station from Osaka, take a Keihan Line train from Kyobashi Station. From Chushojima Station, changing for the Keihan Uji Line to Uji Station.

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