Uji, Japan is a famous city near Kyoto renowned for its beautiful scenery, the Uji River, and Uji Tea. It also has ties to The Tale of Genji, a classic in Japanese literature. Especially for green tea lovers, Uji is definitely worth visiting. Conveniently, Uji is just a 20-minute train ride away from JR Kyoto Station.
Here, we will introduce World Cultural Heritage sites, Uji tea shops, and temples where you can experience zazen and sutra copying. All of the places introduced here are well-equipped with measures against coronavirus so that you can feel at ease during your visit.
Top Photo: ©Byodoin

  1. 1.1. See the National Treasures of Byodoin Temple
  2. 2.2. Experience Zazen and Sutra-copying at Zen Buddhist Temple Koshoji
  3. 3.3. Enjoy Uji Tea, Meals, and Experiences at Fukujuen Uji Tea Factory
  4. 4.4. Check Out Ujigami Shrine, the Oldest Existing Shrine in Japan!
  5. 5.5. Enjoy Delicious Matcha Sweets at Nakamura Tokichi Honten

1.1. See the National Treasures of Byodoin Temple

Phoenix Hall, as seen on the 10-yen coin ©Byodoin

At the top of our list of things to do in Uji is Byodoin Temple, a 10-minute walk from JR Uji Station. Byodoin Temple was the center of Uji in the latter half of the Heian Period. It flourished as an aristocratic villa around 1000 AD.
It was originally the villa of Minamoto no Toru, the person on whom Hikaru Genji, the main character of The Tale of Genji, was based. However, in 1052, it was taken over by the Emperor's advisor, Fujiwara no Michinaga, and his son Yorimichi. He turned it into a temple, known as Byodoin.
The following year, in 1053, the Phoenix Hall, a national treasure, was completed. The beautiful statue of Amida Buddha (Amida Nyorai), sculpted by Jocho, the Heian period's greatest Buddhist priest, is enshrined inside the hall. The buildings of Byodoin Temple were said to embody the Buddhist Pure Land of Sukhavati. Today, they look just as impressive as they did when they were first built.

©Byodoin

Visitors can enter Phoenix Hall between 9:30AM to 4:10PM on a first-come, first-served basis at a capacity of 20 people at a time. We recommended purchasing your admission ticket (300 yen) before heading to the other spots.
A staff member will guide you inside. Beautiful, historical artifacts decorate the hall, including the 2.8-meter high Amida Buddha (Amida Nyorai), the Pure Land image behind the statue, and the Praying Bodhisattva (Buddhist Saints) on Clouds.

©Byodoin

Byodoin Museum Hoshokan also has many great treasures to see. Get a close-up look at the Phoenix Statue, a national treasure, and the 26 Praying Bodhisattva on Clouds through the glass. The Bodhisattvas on Clouds each have different musical instruments and their own unique expressions and poses. There is also a colorful CG exhibit showing the phoenix hall at the time of its construction.

Origami Set (350 yen), Handkerchief (850 yen each), Towel (1,700 yen) ©Byodoin

Byodoin Temple's museum shop includes a lineup of original goods featuring designs of Phoen…

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