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How to Enjoy Uji city trip (for a day): Traditional Tea House and a Modern trendy Cafes

May 9, 2019

 

My trip in March 2019

Uji city is the sacred site of green tea. And you can find a unique travel theme, thanks to Green Tea like a cafe tour. There are pretty and trendy cafes a lot. In particular, you can enjoy contemporary and traditional sensibilities at the same time under the theme of "Matcha" here.

 

※ Matcha, Green Tea??!

Matcha(in Japanese) is the powder of green tea. It is difficult to take in 100% of the useful ingredients of tea leaves with after boiling but in the case of Matcha, which is the tea that has ground the leaves, You can take the useful ingredients 100%. A long time ago, Green tea leaves were ground into a millstone and drank in powder form, and now people use modernized mechanical methods.

 

 

Green tea everywhere in Uji city.

It is possible to walk from Uji Train Station to Byodoin, the representative temple in the area. In particular, from Uji station to Byodoin there are numerous green tea-related cafes and restaurants . (It is called Omotesando road near the Byodoin Temple.) Green tea ramen, Green tea whipped cream cakes, green tea soba(noodle), green tea sweet rice balls and green tea crepes, etc. You can't count the kinds of food with green tea here. You can enjoy any food or dessert with green tea according to your taste. It is easy to buy and try without any information of Green tea. This is writing is my experience that there are some foods.

 

 

 

 

When I arrived at the Uji train station, I felt like I would be in a good mood. But the problem was rain. The closer I got to Uji city, the darker the sky and the thicker the raindrops. When I sent my luggage to Kyoto from Kansai airport, I also sent my portable umbrella, so I had to buy an umbrella in Uji city. It was my mistake for predicting that it would not rain that day, I was annoyed. “I can't help it," I said. I got down from the Uji train station and found a place to buy an umbrella. Coming out of the exit No.1, I could find the information center for travelers. I ran to the place.

 

 

 

 

 

at Information Center for Travelers

As soon as I opened the door, What surprised me was the smell of tea that filled the inside. It was the scent of real great green tea. The well-roasted, well-ground green tea scent was amazing!

"Do you sell umbrellas?"

"Yes, ma’am. Where are you from?“

“I'm Korean."

"Wait a minute.“

 

The staff asked for my nationality and gave me a tour map in Korean with umbrella. The umbrella was 53cm long and the price was 530 yen. Thanks to the tourist map, it was fine without any information of Uji city. I could start my trip with rain and map.

 

 

 

A tour of traditional cafes and modern cafes

 

 

1. Itoh-Kyuemon in front of JR Uji station (伊藤久右衛門 JR宇治駅前店)

- Address: Umonji-16−1 Uji, Kyoto 611-0021, Japan ▶see GOOGLEMAPS

- Contact: +81 774-22-0475

- Business hours: 10:30 to 18:30 (Cafe L.O. 18:00)

 

Itoh-Kyuemon was founded 180 years ago and is now a large brand with several branches. There are a total of eight branches, mostly in the city of Uji. It's also at Kyoto Station, so even those who travel only to Kyoto can enjoy Ito-kueemon's tea and dessert. it was not difficult to find because it was just in front of the Uji train Station in JR Nara Line. There is a modern cafe inside the store, which is full of people who are always waiting. When I visited here, I had to wait a long time because seven teams were already on standby. I decided not to wait for long time here because there were many dessert teahouses where I could enjoy green tea here in Uji city.

 

 

 

In addition to the teahouses to be introduced in this article, I have toured other places, but I think it is Itoh-Kyuemon that sells the most diverse range of products related to Green tea. you can easily buy various kinds of tea. The most notable was the “Green Tea Curry."

 

 

 

The most popular Green Tea KitKat(Chocolate), there were various roll cakes with matcha, However it was the green tea curry that kept catching my eyes. It was amazing to see a green curry, not a regular yellow curry! It was a ready-to-eat foods (with microwave oven) product in the same retort form. I bought it and didn't expect much, but I couldn't bring it to Korea Because I left it in my hotel room!! I'm planning to visit there again in the second half of this year, So I may try it at that time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Nakamura Tokichi Uji Honten (Main Store) (中村藤吉 宇治本店)

- Address: Japan, 〒611-0021 Kyoto, Uji, Ichiban−10 ▶ see GOOGLEPAMS

- Contact: +81-(0)774-22-7800

- Store Hours for April:

① Tea Shop 10:00-18:30

② Cafe 10:00-18:30(last order at 17:00)

- Golden Week Hours: April 27〜May 6

① Tea Shop 10:00〜19:00

② Cafe 10:00〜18:00(last order at 16:00)

 

This is Nakamura Tokichi, the most famous place for Koreans. It's a two-minute walk from the Itoh-Kyuemon(Umonji-16-1 Uji) branch in front of the JR Uji station.The two stores are next to each other. Unlike anywhere else here, the inside cafe is very attractive. The reason was simple. The cafe is located in a good view of the Japanese style garden. There were also tea ceremony rooms and other places of the atmosphere of Japan. Just looking at the entrance like the picture above, the space wasn't too big, but it was amazing to see the atmosphere of entering a new world when you passed through there.

 

 

 

 

In fact, all the teahouses in the Uji city sell different kinds of tea. It was so ordinary that Selling tea was not characteristic of the store. However, different stores had different types of products and specialty. In the case of Nakamura Tokichi, I felt that it was serving as much Hoji tea as Matcha. And there were a lot more tools related to teaware.

 

 

 

Among the desserts here, puddings caught my eyes. I also had to wait for eating and having tea at a cafe here, too. Furthermore, the day I visited was raining heavily, so most tourists settled in notable cafes and teahouses. It was a famous main store, and it was raining, so the store was full of people. But I didn't want to spend time there waiting. I decided to skip here too. Perhaps because of many people like me, they were selling various puddings and jelly on the subject of Matcha so they could be taken out. I like th rice cake(mochi in japanese) so I bought it instead of pudding.

 

 

 

 

Matcha Dango 756 yen

It didn't taste as sweet as I thought. It was unique because it was chewy. This did not taste much green tea compared to its dark color. It wasn't very delicious, but it had the charm to keep eating when eating. It is unclear to say that it is delicious to explain the taste, but when I ate it, my hands kept taking it. Maybe it was because the sweet taste wasn't strong. It's hard to have a huge feature, but I think I'll buy it again if I go here next time. If you like rice cake like me, it is a strange rice ball that make you continue to eat.

 

 

 

3. Mitsuboshien Kanbayashi Sannyu Head Shop(三星園 上林三入本店)

- Address: 27-2 Ujirenge,Uji-city,Kyoto, Japan ▶ see GOOGLEMAPS

- Contact: +81 774-21-2636

- Business Hours: 9:00-18:00 (open throughout the year without holiday)

 

The rain began to thicken. I had to stop by the teahouse for a while. In fact, there was no destination, so under rainy weather, I headed to the Byodoin. I wasn't planning to visit there. I found a teahouse in Mitsuboshien teahouse while I was walking down the OmoteSando towards Byodoin. The entrance seems to be a simple souvenir shop, but if you go inside, you will find a Japanese-style tea house. The scent of teahouses filling this place and the old Japanese traditional basin captured my eyes and nose.

 

 

 

 

T-ware and various tea products needed for a variety of Japanese-style tea ceremony.

There were also some good chocolates and desserts as souvenirs, Compared to the ones in front of the main branch of Tokichi Nakamura and the JR Wu area of Itochuemon, they were of a small kind. But here, there was a rough, orderly wooden box with tea leaves on the shelf. An old-looking wooden boxes were emitting the most distinctive scent in the space filled with tea scents. TOn top of that, I saw a machine that was working hard to make matcha. Matcha is made by grinding green tea. The meaning of Chinese character 抹, which is read as mal in Korea and mat in Japan, is grinding something into powder. Matcha was originally made by grinding tea leaves on a millstone, but these days, it is made by grinding them with a machine like this. In the upper left picture, the modern millstone turned around without a break and smashed the green tea powder finely, which was interesting to watch.

 

 

 

 

There was a space like this when I walked down the small corridor. I couldn't believe it. It was a completely unimaginable space at the entrance to the store. The store and this space are separated by very small stone steps, and the atmosphere of the two places was completely different. It would have been hard to imagine that there would be such a space! The types of products were more diverse than I thought such as matcha jelly, but there was something I've wanted to eat, so I didn't have to think long about what to order. What I wanted to eat was a Matcha Zenzai.

 

 

 

 

Hiyashi Macha Zenzai 850yen

In short, this was Japanese red bean porridge. Since I was in Uji city, there was a strong matcha. The price was only 850 yen, but it doesn't feel cheap because of its small amount. The color of this was marvelous. It wasn't that I didn't imagine green. However, I was embarrassed because it was so clear and deep green. It was so deep that I thought it might have been painted. It's as if you could take a brush here to put it on a canvas.

 

There was white rice ball cake and red beans in a dark green tea.

It was very bitter when I ate only the tea. There was savory flavor that followed, but I couldn't feel it well because it was too bitter. I needed red beans to feel the savory flavor.

 

If you try mixing ordinary red beans with match(green part), you can feel the bitterness of the taste tea and the sweetness of the red bean porridge. Its bitter taste is so strong that even a green tea geeks might not like it. It went very well with the tea provided with it. The subtle bitterness of the tea served with it seemed to be offset by the combination of the matcha. It was certainly unique. The amount was very small, but if you come to Uji city, Just try it. Ah, if you ask me to tell you about the shortcomings of this, there may be a green left on your lips after eating the matcha zenzai. So let's wipe your lips when you're done eating. You can see the green on the tissue.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Uji Byodo-in Omote Sando

- Address: Renge-21−18 Uji, Kyoto 611-0021, Japan ▶ see GOOGLEMAPS

- Contact: +81 774-25-7277

- Business Hours: 08:00 ~ 20:00

 

Starbucks is famous all over the world. Seattle is famous for its first Starbucks, and Starbucks in Hong Kong is famous for recreating a Hong Kong cafe a long time ago. What about Starbucks in Uji city? It is famous for its sweet and pretty beauty because it is made up of Japanese garden. I couldn't miss it. It is two minutes' walk from the entrance to Byodoin. It was not difficultto to find it because it was so close from Byodoin. Without the English name of Starbucks, I would not have thought it was Starbucks. It was a space that successfully recreated the beautiful Japanese garden with a modern sense. At the entrance, curved pine trees were harmonized with modern Starbucks buildings. It was a Starbucks that featured Uji city.

 

 

 

 

Starbucks with Traditional Japanese Garden (Karaisansu)?!

Small artificial mountains and water decorated with sand and stone are uniquely attractive expressions for foreigners. This unique Japanese garden expression is called Kareisansu(枯山水). Starbucks branch in Byodoin made a garden using expression technique. There are sand and rocks that represent a typical Japanese garden. it was impressive to see Japan representing the landscape anyway. Besides, there are big, small, curved trees. As the sun went down, the light became clear and bright. Thanks to it, the garden was becoming more colorful.

 

 

 

 

 

You can enjoy these gardens even if you are outside Starbucks. The space wasn't very wide for famous Starbucks around famous tourist attractions. Nevertheless, this place is well decorated with Japanese-style gardens. So I liked the cozy atmosphere of the garden. As the sun went down and yellow lights began to turn on in Starbucks. When the lights all over the place lit up the garden, I thought it was pretty.

 

 

 

 

 

Matcha Green tea Latte JAPAN LIMITED

The words "Japan Limited" was seen while thinking about what to buy here. There was a white mocha on it, but the word that came into my eyes was Matcha latte. I prefer a matcha latte to a white mocha, so I ordered a bag of matcha latte sticks and Sakuraful Milk pudding. Milk pudding was as sweet as pudding, while ordinary pudding was caramel based, while Sakuraful pudding was a sweet gel-type based. It tasted as unusual and ordinary. Of course, the taste of milk pudding was good!

 

There were many drinks. It was very different in form from the one sold at the traditional teahouse. However, it was also selling Starbucks products as well as limited products equivalent to the cherry blossom season. However, it didn't look special, so it was the most regrettable thing. If there was a drink that could not be enjoyed outside this place, it would be attractive. When I looked through the menu, I felt sad because it was a typical menu that couldn't escape the limits of franchise stores.

 

 

 

Matcha Republic (抹茶共和国)

- Address: 26-2 Myoraku, Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan ▶ see GOOGLEMPAS

- Contact: +81 774-21-2889

- Business hours: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

 

It was a small shop that had no explanation except for the large capital MR. It was such a small shop that it would be full of only three to five people. I was curious about what this place would be. It was a small cafe named Matcha Republic. Of course, like the cafe in Uji City, the main menu was the Matcha, and tea was made and sold in various forms based on Matcha. There were many kinds of drinks here. So it took more time than I thought to choose the menu. I put in the order and looked inside while waiting. There were many trendy products, including cute props. I think it's a must-visit place for anyone who uses Instagram often.

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the inside of the store is small. Even if only two people were waiting to order, it felt like something was full.

 

 

 

There seemed to be more than 10 menus with matcha. It was really difficult to choose because there were similar but various features. They were so attractive that I wanted to try them all if I wasn't full. The design of the bottle was also unique. a combination of rectangular and gourd bottle shape. All the menus were written in Japanese and English, so I could see the menu characteristics at a glance.

 

Besides this, the products were characterized by pretty packages. It was packaged separately so that even those who did not know much about tea could buy one or two as souvenirs. In addition, the package itself was so pretty that it was great to buy it for $2~3 and present it to friends and family.

 

 

 

Sakura Bavarois Macha Latte 650yen

I chose a matcha latte with pink on the floor. because I wanted to see what pink part would taste like. it wasn't that expensive considering Japanese prices.

 

 

 

Matcha Republic Uji Kyoto

When the drink was served, the clerk told me to shake it. I shook it really hard at her instructions, but the two colors didn't mix well. It turned out that pink was a jelly, not a liquid, so as it was shaken, the jelly was separated and mixed into a green tea in the shape of several small circles.

 

The matcha latte served with a thick straw. The amount was so small that I thought I could drink at once. The taste of matcha was not strong with sweet taste, so I drank it all in one gulp. 

 

 

 

 

Information to know when traveling in Uji city.

 

 

1. Transport from Kansai Airport to Uji City

Any route should take approximately two hours on a one-way basis. Then, You should choose whether to go comfortably or cheaply.

 

(1) Minimum fare line: 2 hours and 6 minutes... JP¥1,560

① Kansai Airport ▶▶ Tengachaya station(36 minutes /Nankai main Line)

② Tengachaya station▶▶ Kitahama station (11 minutes/ Sakaisuji Line)

③ Kitahama station ▶▶ Uji station (55 minutes/ Keihan main Line) & Train Transfer from Demachiyanagi + Keihan main Line)

The total time is about 2 hours and 6 minutes, and although the fare is the lowest, However, this method requires several transfers. (If you are a frequent visitor to Japan, it may not be that complicated)

 

(2) Best comfortable route: 1 hour 58 minutes ... JP¥3,850

① Kansai Airport ▶▶ Kyoto Station (1 hour 18 minutes/ Haruka Express)

② Kyoto Station ▶▶ Uji station (24 minutes/ JR Nara line)

The total time is about 1 hour and 58 minutes. However, the fare is about $40(one-way). It is true that the cost is high considering that about $40 should be spent on a one-way basis here. Surprisingly, however, you can save this cost by nearly half with Japanese rail pass.

 

#1. Pre-purchase of tickets for Haruka $15 (one way)

: If you have Iccoca card, you can make a reservation at a discounted price at $15 a one-way ticket if you book in advance. With this route, only 240 yen is needed from Kyoto to Uji station, saving nearly half of the total cost.

 

① Haruka express ticket on discounted price with presenting Iccoca

The card is a real rechargeable card that allows people to pay for shopping on subway, subway, and bus rides in Kansai area. This cards are conveniently available on JR West Japan routes such as Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. The card includes a deposit of JPY500 and a charge of JPY1,500. You can also get a discount on Kansai Airport Express Haruka (including Tenoji, Shinosaka and Kyoto) if you present your Iccoca card. (Only available for foreign travelers) If you show this Iccoca card at JR-West Station's JR-West Ticket Office (green window), you can buy discounted  Haruka tickets.

▶ Price: $21.18to Kyoto, one-way)

▶ Booking in advance at the lowest price of Iccoca Card in Advanced  at KLOOK or KKday

 

② Buy a train ticket at a discounted price

If you don't need Iccoca card, you can buy a discounted train ticket directly.

▶ Price: $15(to Kyoto, one-way)

▶ Booking in advance at the lowest price of Haruka  in Advanced at KLOOK or KKday.

 

 

#2. JR West Kansai Pass for round trip: $20 (round trip of Haruka express ticket + JR NARA line)

★ The most recommended route: with JR West Kansai Pass and using it as a round trip.

JR passes offer unlimited rides for one day or several days, and many advantages, including the Haruka train. For example, if you are planning a one-day trip to the Uji, you can purchase a JR WEST pass and take advantage of this line connected to JR line with a single ticket. If You can buy JR West Kansai Pass at a minimum price of $20, You can save 70% of the total cost at round trip. 

▶ Price: 1day ($19.97), 2day ( $39.06), 3day($48.14), 4day($57.22)

▶ Booking in advance at the lowest price of JR West Kansai Pass in Advanced at KLOOK or KKday

 

 

 

2. Theme in Uji city

If you want to spend a limited time, you'd better set a trip theme first. Once you figure out what you want to do and what you like, you can make your own schedule. Why don’t you refer to the details below!

 

(1) Cafes/Teahouses

If your goal is to visit famous cafes or teahouses, you don't have to visit Byodoin. In this case, it is one way to continue to wander around the streets and enter all the shops as you can see.

 

(2) just trip to Uji

It is also a good idea to tour the Uji city by visiting the famous Buddhist temple, Byodoin, the bridge of Yundongju and the nearby Uji Park. There are museums everywhere, so it's recommended to visit. If you feel hungry, just have food with green tea at a nearby restaurant and dessert with Uji green tea.

 

 

 

 

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