Guysss I have the best day trip idea for those of you who are visiting Kyoto and LOVE green tea / matcha!
Did you know, just 20 minutes from Kyoto is the town of Uji, the home of green tea in Japan? If you love green tea, you should totally add the below to your itinerary – includes both green tea loving things and also non-green tea things to break up the green tea overload ;-)
Byodo-in is a world heritage temple located in Uji, just 20 minutes away from Kyoto. This Buddhist temple may look familiar because it is the temple featured on the 10 yen coin! Whilst Byodo-in is beautiful with an important history, it’s not actually all that crowded to visit due to its location out of the city.
Entry to Byodoin in is 600 Yen for an adult
We spent about 1 hour exploring the temple grounds.
Here, you can also take a tour to view Phoenix Hall and the Buddha inside the hall. It costs 300 Yen to visit Phoenix hall and up to 50 people are admitted every 20 minutes from 9:30am to 4:10pm daily.
Whilst the tour of Phoenix Hall is only done in Japanese, you can receive an English transcript of the tour if you wish – note, no photos allowed inside Phoenix Hall.
Lunch at Itohkyuemon (green tea soba noodles)
A popular stopover for lunch in Uji is Itohkyuemon, a restaurant that offers green tea soba noodles which is a specialty of the area. Itohkyuemon offers an English menu (tourist friendly) and have a variety of different lunch sets which you can select from, as well as a huge dessert menu of mainly green tea flavoured desserts. I ordered the set menu with green tea soba noodles with herring fish, rice and small parfait. It was absolutely delicious, I tell you!
Next to the restaurant there is also a shopping area filled with green tea products such as tea (of course), biscuits, soba noodles to take home, green tea curry mix, chocolate and more. It’s the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs and I made sure to bring home with me a few packets of the green tea soba and the curry mix to try as well.
Green tea Plantation Tour – Wazuka
An incredible experience you can do in the nearby town of Wazuka is a green tea plantation tour. Wazuka is a small town near Uji and it is here where most of the famous ‘Uji green tea’ is produced, mainly by small family owned green tea plantations.
There are quite a few green tea plantation tours that you can choose to do around here offered by the numerous different farms. The one we went on was with D-Matcha. Daiki-san and his brother own this green tea plantation business together and run daily tours in the area where you can visit their plantations, get to know more about the area, taste test different types of sencha/matcha, pick your own green tea leaves then take them back to their cafe & kitchen to turn into green tea tempura!
I had an incredible time with Daiki-san as we trekked almost an hour uphill to reach one of his mountain-top plantations. At the top, we were rewarded with some ice cold green tea drink that Daiki-san had been carrying all this way! and spent a lovely afternoon picking green tea leaves and all. The entire area of Wazuka is covered in green tea plantations and throughout the trek, I couldn’t help and stop and snap pictures of this picturesque area.
Back at his kitchen Daiki-san turned our freshly picked leaves into a delicious tempura, followed by some taste testing of numerous types of sencha and matcha. It was such a fun afternoon and until recently, I had no clue you could even do such a thing! Absolutely incredible and perfect for a green tea lover.
Nearby Wazuka and Uji is also Shojuin temple, so there’s definitely an opportunity to also tack this onto your day or alternatively, visit it by itself separately. Shojuin temple is a temple I’ve always wanted to visit for its unique heart shaped ‘inome’ window which is believed to bring happiness and protect from disaster. The ceiling of the temple also has beautiful artwork, with 160 squares of stunning art.
Whilst it can be difficult to access, the temple is quite close to Uji city so a good idea to visit together.
To visit from Uji, take bus 180/182/184 from JR Uji Station for 25 minutes before getting off at ‘Ichumae’ stop. After, take the ‘community bus’ for another 20 minutes and get off at ‘Okuyamada’ stop. From there, the temple will be approximately a 10-15 minute walk.
Entry is 400yen and includes green tea and the cutest little sweets.