Uji (宇治) is a small city situated between Kyoto and
Nara, two of Japan's most famous historical and cultural
centers. Its proximity to these two former capitals
resulted in Uji's early development as a cultural center in
its own right. At the height of political power of the
Fujiwara clan in the Heian Period (794 to 1192), buildings
such as Byodoin Temple and Ujigami Shrine, the oldest
extant shrine in Japan, were constructed in Uji. Ujigami
Shrine is a small shrine and is said to be the oldest
Shinto shrine in the world. It is a short walk across Uji
River's red Japanese bridges and at the bottom of
Daikichiyamafuchi Park. Those looking for a short hike
can continue up the mountain to the park's summit for a
view over Uji. Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358–1408)
promoted cultivation of Uji tea in the area. Since then Uji
has been an important production and distribution center
of superior quality green tea. Tsuen tea has been served
since 1160 and is still sold in the oldest tea shop in Japan
and possibly the world.
The final chapters of “The Tale of Genji” were set in Uji and there is a museum about the famous novel. Those wanting to escape the crowds should head over the river and into the hills to visit Koshoji Temple. Quiet, apart from when it shows off its amazing autumn leaves, this temple is still in daily use. Visitors can see worshipers and priests practicing Zen chanting, praying and other frequent ceremonies. Founded by Zen master Yin-yuan, known in Japanese as Ingen (1592-1673), Mampukuji Temple is the head of the Okaku sect of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. Mampukuji Temple is famed for its pine trees and architecture. The Japan Sencha Tea Ceremony has its headquarters at Mampukuji.
Kansai | Kyoto | Uji
The Byodoin Temple was built by Fujiwara Yorimichi, the Chief Adviser to the Emperor, in 1053. It was originally a rural villa owned by his father.