Kyoto, a city full of historical temples and shrines, is always crowded with many tourists from all over the world. Why don’t you enjoy Kyoto in an area full of nature where you can escape from such hustle and bustle? This is Uji, Japan’s leading tea production area. Not only you can enjoy delicious matcha but also a beautiful tea plantation unique to the production area. Many old temples such as the World Heritage Ujigami Shrine and Byodo-in Temple, and an important cultural property Manpukuji Temple, are also worth seeing. There are also family tours through which you can go into a tea plantation, something you can’t usually do.
Where is Uji in Kyoto?
Uji is located in the southern part of Kyoto Prefecture and is the birthplace of Japanese tea culture. There is a lot of nature and just 15 minutes by JR line from Kyoto station, you can get away from the crowds in central Kyoto.
“The temple on the back of the 10-yen coin!”, Almost all the kids in Japan are excited to see the Byodoin Temple. Please look at the back of a 10-yen coin. A world heritage temple on the banks of the Uji River, about a 10-minute walk from Uji Station (JR and Keihan line). You can see architecture and paintings from about 1000 years ago. The combination of Byodoin Temple and the pond that surrounds it is very beautiful, and the children are desperate to see the face of the Buddha inside the temple from the opposite side of the pond. In May, the wisteria trellis near the entrance is beautiful. The museum shop sells Byodoin Temple’s original ballpoint pens, stickers, notepads and Japanese-style scented hand creams that are only available here.
Access: 10-minutes walk from Uji Station (JR Nara line or Keihan Uji line)
- Garden: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
- Visiting interior of Phoenix Hall, Hou-ou-do: 9:30 am – 4:10 pm (Reception: from 9:00am / every 20minutes / On a first-come-first-served basis up to max of 50people per visit)
- Open everyday (May be closed without notice due to special ceremonies and events)
- Adult: 600yen
- Junior high and high school student: 400yen
- Elementary school student: 300yen
Address: 116 Uji Renge Uji-shi, Kyoto
(Japanese address) 京都府宇治市宇治蓮華116
Ujigami-jinja Shrine & Mt.Daikichiyama (Mt.Buttokusan)
It is the oldest shrine in Japan and is registered as a World Heritage site. From JR Uji Station, cross Uji Bridge. At this point, the view of the mountains, rivers and vermilion Asagiri-Bridge seen from Ujibashi bridge is splendid and, you can feel as if you go back to Heian-era. My children love it. After crossing the Uji bridge, please turn right and proceed to the mountainside. Be careful not to make a mistake because Ujigami-jinja Shrine is behind Uji-jinja Shrine (very similar name). “Uji” was once written in kanji with the meaning “Rabbit way” and this shrine sells “rabbit” fortune slip. A fortune slip is in a ceramic rabbit figurine, and the children seemed to have fun deciding which color rabbit to choose. In November, it might be crowded with families celebrating the growth of children(SHICHI-GO-SAN, an annual Japanese festival), so you can see cute Japanese children wearing beautiful kimonos. When you get off the river, you can cross the beautiful Asagiri Bridge. You can also go to the top of Mt. Daikichi overlooking the cityscapes of Byodoin Temple, Ujigawa River, and Uji city in about 20 minutes on foot.
Ujigami-jinja Shrine Information
- 10-minutes walk from Uji Station (Keihan Uji line)
- 20-minutes walk from Uji Station (JR Nara line)
Hours: 9:00am-4:30pm (open everyday)
Admission fee: free
Address: 59 Ujiyamada Uji-shi, Kyoto
(Japanese address) 京都府宇治市宇治山田59
Obaku-san Manpuku-ji Temple
This temple is very spacious and kids can enjoy running and exploring it to their hearts’ content. The second gate “San-mon gate” is overwhelming. It is a Zen Buddhist temple, but it is a Chinese style temple. The fortune slip is interesting, and depending on the year of birth (Zodiac), there are miniatures of Buddha that protect them, and the children are crazy about it. This miniature can be used as a talisman. On the 8th of every month (except August and February), there is a Legendary Monk festival. No entrance fee is required on that day, and there are stalls such as old kimonos and vegetables and fruits. A tea ceremony (sencha green tea) is also held on that day for 500 yen per person. In addition, a Chinese-style vegetarian dish called “Fucha Ryori” is available for vegans (dashi soup with Shiitake-mushroom and kelp), too. Reservations are required at least 3 days in advance.
Obaku-san Manpuku-ji temple Information
Access: 5-minutes walk from Oubaku Station (Keihan Uji line or JR Nara line)
Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (Reception is open until 16:30) (open everyday)
- Adult/College/High school student: 500yen
- Middle school/Elementary school student: 300yen
Address: 34 Sanbanwari Gokasho Uji-shi, Kyoto
(Japanese address) 京都府宇治市五ケ庄三番割34
Birthplace of Nagatani Soen & Chasomyo-jinja Shrine
Speaking of GREEN TEA, you may first think of matcha. Matcha is one kind of GREEN TEA and is used in formal tea ceremonies and as a confectionery ingredient. Sencha, on the other hand, is an indispensable everyday item for Japanese people in their daily lives. Sencha is served for welcoming guests, and many Japanese people always carry a bottle of Sencha with them. This is the place where the manufacturing method of Sencha was invented by Mr. Soen Nagatani about 300 years ago, and this manufacturing method is still used today.
There is “Chasomyo-jinja Shrine” where Soen is enshrined, regarded as a sacred place for tea. Tea shops and cafes not only throughout Japan but also from overseas, including representatives from Starbucks and famous tea brands from England and France have visited here. You might see their EMA, wooden plaques that people write their prayers or wishes on, hanging in this shrine.
You can experience various tea culture programs like grinding Matcha and trying some matcha sweets and local teas at “Soen Koyuan Yantan”, the hub for tourism exchange, about a 15-minute walk from Nagatani’s birthplace.
Birthplace of Nagatani Soen and Chasomyo-shrine Information
Access: 30-minutes drive by taxi from Uji station (Keihan Uji line or JR Nara line)
Hours: 9:00 am – around 4:00 pm
Open: Weekends(Please call in advance if you visit)
Admission fee: 100 yen (Maintenance cooperation fee)
Phone: 0774-88-6638 / 0774-46-8864 (“Soen Koyuan Yantan”,the hub for tourism exchange)
Address: Yuyadani Sorabiro Ujitawara-cho Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto
(Japanese address) 京都府綴喜郡宇治田原町湯屋谷空広
Nishino Yama Observatory of tea plantation
You can see this view on the way from Uji to the Birthplace of Nagatani Soen & Chasomyo-Shrine(above 4.). Tea for as far as you can see, the tea plantation on one side is always superb with the mountains behind. There is also a heart object that is a symbol of Ujitawaracho-town, from which you can take photos. Do you know why a heart is a symbol of this town?
NishinoYama Observatory of tea plantation Information
20-minutes drive by taxi from Uji station (Keihan Uji line or JR Nara line)
Hours: around 9:00 am – around 4:00 pm, open everyday
Admission fee: free
Address: Nishinoyama Gounoguchi Ujitawara-cho Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto
(Japanese address) 京都府綴喜郡宇治田原町郷之口西ノ山地内
Sumiyama Pottery Village
In a quiet mountain village surrounded by deep green, about 15 minutes by taxi from Uji station, you can visit and purchase the beautiful works of pottery directly from the craftsmen. All the works are unique and you can appreciate the crafts and it can even be fun for children.
If these pieces were lined up at a department store as Shimizu ware, the price would be quite high. It is nice to be able to purchase directly from the person who made it. Also, you can experience painting some pottery.
In addition, the Sumiyama Pottery Festival is held in October every year, children are able to enjoy making tea bowls with a potter’s wheel and experiencing woodworking. This year my children made colored pencils from a tea tree. Also, we took part in a stamp rally, going to different potters to collect stamps on a card and we could win prizes. We received a nice ceramic chopstick rest.
Sumiyama pottery village Information
- 15-minutes drive from Uji station (Keihan Uji line or JR Nara line)
- 10-minutes drive from Mimurodo Station (Keihan Uji line)
Hours: 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
Open: Tuesday, Wednesday and Weekends(Closed on random days. Please call in advance if you visit)
Admission fee: free
Phone: 0774-32-5904 Please make a reservation for the pottery activity
Address: 2-2 Hisada Sumiyama Uji-shi, Kyoto
(Japanese address) 京都府宇治市炭山久田2-2
Uji has a lot of highlights where you can feel the history and nature, such as world heritages, tea plantations, and Kiyomizu pottery. Getaway from the crowds in the big city of Kyoto and make a relaxing memory with your children. There are many places and you have no idea where and how to go there? Please check out Kyoto with Kids Family Tour. We have tea culture experience tours for families. We will pick you up at your hotel, so please join us. (See Family Picnic in a Tea field.)
Access information to Uji
Uji is easily accessible either on the JR Nara Line or on the Keihan Uji line. Enjoy a day at Uji where you can enjoy both historical and natural beauty with your kids.
Here is a useful map in English. You can use it to check the location ahead of time.
126.96.36.199 Uji city https://travel.ujicci.or.jp/access_en.html
4.5 Ujitawara-town https://ujitawara-kyoto.com/international/en/access/