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Indulge Your Taste Buds in Kyoto Tea Country

Use JAL Japan Explorer Pass to visit Kyoto tea country and learn the tradition of Japanese green tea, including matcha.
Ishitera

There are beautiful green rows of tea plants as far as the eye can see in one of the many well-maintained tea plantations in Kyoto tea country. The history of tea in the region dates back over 800 years ago. South of Kyoto is Uji, along the Uji River. You may wonder, is Uji worth visiting, and what is Uji known for?

Uji is best known for matcha green tea. Uji City is well-known for its "blending" of tea leaves by tea merchants, and "Uji-cha" has become a brand of Japanese green tea. You will find matcha powder along with other varieties of green tea and green tea products in Uji City.

Uji City is the heart of Kyoto Tea Country

Japanese tea cultivation originated when Eisai brought seeds from China and planted them on Mt. Sefuri in Saga Prefecture. Eisai brought green tea seeds and the teachings of Rinzai Zen Buddhism to Japan from China. Myoe Shonin, a monk of the Kegon sect of Buddhism, received seeds from Eisai, planting them in Tsugao, Kyoto. This was the start of Uji tea and its spread throughout Japan. Uji City is recognized for its UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Byodoin Temple and Ujigami Shrine.

Visitors may now enjoy many different tea experiences in Kyoto, Uji, and surrounding communities. Along with cultural experiences, a trip to Kyoto's tea country will be a feast for eyes, taste buds, and other senses.

How to get to Uji and other spots in and around Kyoto

One of the most convenient ways to get to Kyoto from Tokyo is to use the JAL Japan Explorer Pass and fly to the nearest airports: Osaka International (Itami) Airport or Kansai International Airport. You may reach Kyoto and Uji from Osaka using the Osaka Monorail and rail lines, including the Takarazuka Main Line, Tokaido-Sanyo Line, and other local rail and bus lines. From Kansai Airport, you may reach Kyoto and Uji using the Japan Rail (JR) Haruka and Thunderbird trains, as well as the Osaka Loop Line, Nankai-Kuko Line, and Yamatoji Line. The JR-Nara Line is the primary local line that leads to many green tea shops and other cultural locations in Kyoto's Tea Country. If you are visiting Wazuka, it is recommended to hire a car or guided tour to visit the extensive tea plantations and view the beautiful countryside.

For matcha and green tea lovers

Ishitera

Where should you start to sample the freshest, highest-quality green tea in Japan's oldest and most famous green tea region? You may visit the most traditional tea shops, more modern tea emporiums, and stroll through beautiful tea fields. Find special locations to sample the unique flavor and fresh taste of matcha and other forms of green tea.

By the way, what is matcha? Matcha is a type of green tea by taking young tea leaves and grinding them into powder. Many studies have linked green tea to a variety of health benefits. Matcha also offers the same benefits as it contains high amounts of substances with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, mainly through a high concentration of catechins. 

There are two Uji Stations. The Uji Station on the Keihan Railway Uji Line is located on the north side of the Uji River. The Uji Station on the JR West - Nara Line is located on the south side of the Uji River. Although located on opposite sides of the river, both stations are approximately a ten-minute walk from Byodoin Temple. Keihan-Uji station is closer to some of the locations on the north side of the river, including the "Tale of Genji" Museum.

Tsuji Rihei Honten Kyoto Uji Main Shop

Tsuji Rihei Honten Kyoto Uji Main Shop

Address: 41 Uji Wakamori, Uji City, 611-0021, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Last order: 5:00 PM) Closed on Tuesday

The history of Tsuji Rihei Honten Kyoto Uji Main Shop dates back to 1860 when founder Tsuji Sensuke Rihei bought a 30-are tea plantation with his own money. For ten years, Rihei worked to improve Gyokuro green tea, which became recognized as the highest quality of tea. The main tea shop today presents a beautiful and balanced interior. It offers tea and green tea products inspired by traditional Japanese tastes as well as contemporary international tastes and dishes. Stone-ground Uji Matcha is on the menu along with green matcha warabi-mochi, parfaits, and other traditional dishes.

Itohkyuemon Uji Main Store

Itohkyuemon Uji Main Store

Address: 19-3 Aramaki, Todo, Uji City, 611-0013, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 10:00 AM. – 5:00 PM (Last order: 4:30 PM)

Approximately five minutes by foot from Uji Station on the Keihan Line, ItohKyuemon's tea-making tradition dates to the late Edo period. Tea from Itohkyuemon has been used in famous temples and shrines. The highly-traditional tea shop offers a variety of tea products. The teahouse offers matcha tea specialties and sweets in a traditional environment.

Nakamura Tokichi Uji Honten Main Store

Nakamura Tokichi Uji Honten Main Store

Address: 10 Uji Ichiban, Uji City, 611-0021, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: Tea Shop - 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
                               Cafe - 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Last order 4:30 PM)

Also, one-minute walk from JR Nara Line Uji Station, Nakamura Tokichi Uji Honten Main Store is a highly-rated cafe in Uji, serving sweets using green tea as well as matcha green tea beverages. Visitors rank this cafe as one of the best places to sample matcha in Japan's matcha capital. The cafe is well-known and popular, so you may experience a wait to sample the matcha-infused sweets, soba noodles and beverages.

Mitsuboshien-Kanbayashisannyu-Honten

Mitsuboshien-Kanbayashisannyu-Honten

Address: 27-2 Ujirenge, Uji City, 611-0021, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Only a short walk from JR-Nara Line Uji Station, Mitsuboshien-Kanbayashisannyu-Honten is another green tea dessert shop with high ratings from visitors. It has been noted in a number of Japanese visitor guides and ranked as a "Japanese Tea Lovers' Choice. The shop is 500 years old, and the owners are the 16th generation. You can also visit the on-site museum on the shop's second floor.

Tenku Cafe Wazuka

Tenku Cafe Wazuka

Address: Shishigaguchi Shirasu, Wazuka, Soraku District, 619-1222, Kyoto prefecture
Business hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Reception: Wazuka Cha Café

Tenku Cafe Wazuka is a private room with a superb view of Wazuka Town located at the top of the mountain in Wazuka Sports Park in Wazuka, which is a small town in the tea plantation country southeast of Uji-city, Kyoto prefecture. To visit, take the JR-Nara Line to Kizu Station, then the Yamatoji Line to Kamo Station. A bus will travel to the Wazuka Yamanoie Bus Stop near Tenku Cafe Wazuka. You can rent a bicycle nearby and explore the entire beautiful area if you like.

YAMAJIN

YAMAJIN

Address: Ohazama-26-5 Shirasu, Wazuka, Soraku District, 619-1222, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Also in Wazuka, accessed by the same route as Tenku Cafe, is Yamajin. This simple and rustic location offers many choices of local green tea, matcha, and suites.

dan dan cafe by Ishitera Tea Fields

dan dan cafe

Address: 1-1 Ishiterahigashitani, Wazuka, Soraku District, 619-1221, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Another delightful location in Wazuka is dan dan cafe, which overlooks some of the most beautiful tea plantations, rolling hills, and peaceful scenery. In addition to tea and sweets like gelato (several flavors in addition to green tea), dan dan cafe serves lunch dishes. Reservations are recommended.

Learn about and experience green tea

Is matcha the same as green tea? Matcha is one form of green tea. While the majority of green tea consumed around the world comes from China, matcha is made by processing Japanese tea leaf. Nearly all of the tea grown in Japan is green tea. The tea used to make matcha is grown in the shade at the end of the season and carefully made into the lovely green powder, giving matcha tea its distinctive color and flavor. In addition to matcha, there are at least nine other varieties of green tea, including gyokuro, sencha, tencha, genmaicha, and others. You can learn about and experience green tea in the heart of Japan's green tea-growing region.

Takumi no Yakata (Uji Tea Cafe)

Takumi no Yakata

Address: 17-1 Uji Mataburi Uji City, 611-0021, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM Closed on Wednesday

Takumi no Yakata (Uji Tea Cafe) is provided by Kyoto Prefecture Chamber of Tea and near the Tale of Genji Museum, Uji City. It is intended to provide information and education about the history, production of three types of green tea: gyokuro, matcha, sencha and how to make these teas.

Fukujuen Ujicha Kobo (Tea Workshop in Uji)

Fukujuen Ujicha Kobo

Address: 10 Uji Yamada, Uji City, 611-0021, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Closed on Monday

Fukujuen is one of the largest tea manufacturers and tea purveyors in the Kyoto Tea Country. The Fukujuen Ujicha Kobo Workshop is a large tea store providing a tea studio and education, cafe, and tea-infused dishes, including seasonal soba. Fukujuen also operates the Fukujuen CHA Experience Park in Kansai Science City in Kyoto, a seven-minute walk from Yamadagawa Station on the Kintetsu Kyoto Line.

Taihoan (Tea Ceremony - traditional)

Taihoan

Address: 1-5 Uji Tougawa, Uji City, 611-0021, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

This traditional Japanese tea house which features the tea ceremony is near Byodoin UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Uji City Tourist Center. You may purchase tickets to the traditional tea ceremony at the Uji City Tourist Center ticket counter. A variety of tea ceremony menus are available from 1,000 yen, and you can take a seat even on the day of the ceremony, but reservation is required at least 3 days in advance for some courses. The instructors will be available only in Japanese, but even beginners can easily experience the tea ceremony.

Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms, LLC (Guided tea farm tour)

Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms, LLC

Address: 2 Otsuka Sono, Wazuka, Soraku District, 619-1201, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Situated next to a tea garden and tea factory, you can visit a tea farm specializing in high-quality artisan green teas. Obubu Tea Farms is an agricultural social enterprise offering tours as well as internships and a tea club.

What's nearby in the area

Although green tea is the focus of Kyoto's tea country, there are many other cultural experiences and exquisite sights in the ancient region, including precious UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Byodoin Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Byodoin Temple
© Byodoin

Address: 116 Ujirenge, Uji City, 611-0021, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM (Last entry: 5:15 PM)

Byodoin means "Equality in the salvation of Buddha." It is a Buddhist temple dating back to the late Heian period, completed in 1052. This architecture is representative of the Heian period, and together with its gardens, represents the pure land paradise of Buddhism. It has influenced other later temple construction but was not initially meant to be a temple, but was instead begun in 998 as a villa for Fujiwara no Michinaga, a leader of the Heian period. A depiction of the Phoenix Hall, the temple's most famous feature, appears on the front of the Japanese ten-yen coin.

Ujigami Shrine (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Ujigami Shrine

Address: 59 Uji Yamada, Uji City, 611-0021, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM

If you are in Uji-city, you must see the Ujigami Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in 1060, it is the oldest standing shrine in Japan. Its main hall and the worship hall have been designated as National Treasures by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs. Its main hall consists of three rooms designed in the unique Ikkensha style – the inner shrine housed rooms, and the outer building are structurally integrated. The worship hall roof is another architecture worth seeing for its Sugaruhafu style asymmetric roof – an extended flat roof part of the eave. The shrine is also home to a spring water called "Kirihara-sui (water)," one of the "Seven Famous Waters of Uji" designated in the Muromachi period as essential for making tea, and the last spring in existence.

Tale of Genji Museum, Uji City

Tale of Genji Museum

Address: 45-26, Uji Higashiuchi, Uji City, 611-0021, Kyoto Prefecture
Business hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Last entry: 4:30 PM)

Also, near the shrines in Uji is the Tale of Genji Museum, Uji City, devoted to the history and culture of the world's oldest novel, The Tale of Genji written in the early 11th century by the noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu. English guides are available. The Tale of Genji tells stories of the Heian aristocracy, whose lives infused so much of the culture in the region.

Recommended lodging in Kyoto Tea Country

To fully experience Kyoto Tea Country, a stay in Wazuka town, the small tea community located in the hills outside Kyoto, is recommended.

Kyoto Wazukaso

Kyoto Wazukaso 

Address: 25-5 Shirasu-Shishigaguchi, Wazuka, 619-1222, Kyoto Prefecture
Operating hours: Check-in time 3:00 – 7:00 PM Check-out time 10:00 AM

Kyoto Wazuka-so is located in Wazuka Town, Souraku-gun, the home of Uji tea and is an inn where you can enjoy tea with all your senses, which will offer views of the beautiful rolling green hills and countryside, along with tea plantations. In the facilities, you can enjoy the fragrance of tea inside and outside the building with a tea incense burner. The bath is a tea bath, and the relaxing aroma of the tea helps you fall into a deep sleep. For meals, please enjoy the Kaiseki cuisine prepared by Kyoto cuisine chef using Wazuka tea.

The JAL Japan Explorer Pass will take you close to all of the desirable locations in Kyoto's Tea County. Flights from Tokyo to Itami Airport in Osaka take one hour and 10 to 15 minutes, and flights from Tokyo to Kansai International Airport take one hour and 25 to 30 minutes. Explore Uji and surrounding sites with JAL Japan Explorer Pass.

Getting There