Monday, October 9, 2017

Kansai Diaries, Day 5: Rainy Day in Uji City

November 27, 2016

I wake up to a rainy morning in Kyoto. It's bed weather, but I didn't come here to sleep, did I? I get my butt off the bed and prepare for a day in Uji City, just a 20-minute train ride from Kyoto City. Why Uji? Because it has two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Byodo-in and Ujigami Jinja. And because I like matcha.

I arrive in JR Uji Station hungry. It's still raining. I haven't had breakfast yet. From the station I take a left and spot a convenience store, but there are no tables inside. I am not sure if the plastic tables outside, off to the left of the convenience store, are for convenience store customers, but I eat my boxed meal there anyway.

Uji City's manhole cover

I study Google map and plot my route to Byodo-in. As I follow my chosen route, I find that it is through small roads in residential areas. I like it. It is quiet and peaceful. I take a few snapshots and just enjoy my surroundings, eventhough my shoes and socks are already soaking wet.

Through a residential area

Garden 830AM to 530PM
Byodo-in Museum 9AM to 5PM
Phoenix Hall 930AM to 410PM (admission is every 20 minutes)
Admission fees:
Garden and Byodo-in Museum 600 yen
Phoenix Hall 300 yen

Byodo-in's Phoenix Hall was built in 1053. This building I have seen before...on a 10 yen coin. And now it is in front of me and I struggle to take a photo—it is difficult to operate a camera with two hands whilst keeping an umbrella steady between my cheek and my shoulder.

Phoenix Hall

Inside the Phoenix Hall are Buddhist art that one can see for oneself by paying an additional 300 yen. I forgo this—only a maximum of 50 persons every 20 minutes is allowed inside and the waiting time now is 40 minutes—and proceed to the Hoshokan (Byodo-in Museum)...very slowly. For along the way are trees in fall's beautiful hues.

I enter the Hoshokan to check out what's inside since this is included in the 600 yen admission fee I had paid for. (But, to be honest, it's so I could take shelter from the rain!) Inside the museum are many Buddhist statues, ancient roof tiles, a temple bell, and other important cultural assets.

The view from Hoshokan

Before leaving the Byodo-in temple grounds, I check out the smaller buildings and sub-temples, too.


Rakan-do Hall

The rain still hasn't slowed down but there are many more visitors coming in as I leave Byodo-in. Behind Byodo-in is Ujigawa (Uji River) and I cross the river via a vermilion colored bridge to visit two small shrines: Uji Jinja and Ujigami Jinja.

Uji River

9AM to 430PM

In front of Uji Jinja is a chinowa, a large, round ring made of reeds. A chinowa is where worshippers pass through as an act of purification, but I do not see this in action as all the worshippers are inside the shrine where a ceremony is going on.


Uji Jinja

A little boy in traditional garb

Ujigami Jinja
9AM to 430PM

A short slightly uphill walk from Uji Jinja is Ujigami Jinja (or upper Uji Shrine). Ujigami Jinja, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is estimated to have been built in 1060. Looking at the shrine from the side, I can see that the roof is asymmetrical and that the front one is more curved and extended.

After visiting the two shrines, I go back across the river where I had seen a street lined with shops and restaurants. A visit to Uji, home of the Uji matcha, would not be complete without trying matcha flavored stuff.

I stop at the first restaurant I see. I can't read its signboard—扇家—nor the labels (except the price) on the display of plastic food samples, but I am sure the green noodles are matcha flavored noodles.

The name of the restaurant is 扇家 (read Ogi-ka according to Google translate)

扇家's shokuhin sampuru (plastic food samples)

I call the attention of the old lady inside and point to the display of a bowl of green noodles with a strip of fish on top. On this rainy day, a bowl of steaming green tea soba with fish sure hits the spot. The fish is really tasty and the noodles don't taste strongly of green tea. And before heading back to Kyoto City, I make some space for a cone of matcha soft serve ice cream.

Green tea soba

Green tea soft serve ice cream

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

Know Before You Go
Single Entry Tourist Visa for Japan
Roam Around Japan with a Swagger
An Ignoramus in Japan: Vending Machines
An Ignoramus in Japan: Bathrooms and Toilets
An Ignoramus in Japan: Manhole Covers
I Spy With My Little Eye: Japan's Fashion Contradictions
I Spy With My Little Eye: On the Go in Japan

Kansai Diaries (2016)
9D/9N | Wakayama, Nara, Kyoto, Osaka
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kansai Region
Osaka: Day 0: Arrival
Osaka Accommodations: Hotel Raizan, Hotel Mikado
Wakayama: Day 1: Going to, Sleeping in, and Eating in Koyasan
Wakayama: Day 1.5: West Side of Koya Town
Wakayama: Koyasan Sidewalk Shorts
Wakayama: Days 1.75~2: Okunoin, Three Times
Nara: Sleep, Eat, and Explore Nara City
Nara: Day 3: Horyuji, Hokkiji, and some Japanecdotes in Ikaruga Town
Nara: Day 3.5: Yakushiji, Toshodaiji, and Heijo Palace Site in Nara City
Nara: Day 4: Early Morning at Nara Park
Nara: Day 4.25: Naramachi Walking Tour
Nara: Day 4.5: Yoshiki-en, Todaiji, and Kofukuji in Nara Park
Kyoto Accommodations: Guesthouse Wind Villa, Shiori Yado
Kyoto: Day 5: Rainy Day in Uji City (you're here!)
Kyoto: Day 5.5: Tofukuji, Kawai Jinja, Shimogamo Jinja
Kyoto: Day 6: Ginkakuji, Ryoanji, Ninnaji
Kyoto: Day 6.75: Gion Night Walking Tour
Kyoto: Day 7: All Day in Arashiyama
Kyoto: Day 8: Last Day in Kyoto
Osaka: Day 8.75: Dizzying Dotonbori
Osaka: Day 9: Osaka, Over and Out

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