Osaka Photo Gallery - Day Trip to Uji

Just an hour away from Osaka, Uji seems to be forgotten by the tourist crowd who favour Kyoto and Nara nearby. Uji's history goes back to the 4th century but gained prominence when tea cultivation became famous in the 14th century. Buddhist monks introduced green tea to Japan in the 7th century but it took a few more centuries before it turned from a meditation booster to a more casual beverage.

A short walk from the train station is the Ometesando, a 300m-long pedestrian street of shops and restaurants showcasing green tea in everything.

The town's star attraction is Byodoin Temple. Its history goes back to the 10th century. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the well-manicured sight is actually featured on the 10 yen coin.

The centrepiece is the Phoenix Hall, which stands on an island surrounded by a large pond to give it a reflection. The hall appears like a bird spreading its wings.

The model course loops around the pond, offering a view of the Phoenix Hall from all directions.

Go for a walk along the Uji River's banks and cross to the other side. The Uji Bridge was first built in the 7th century and was featured in the famous novel, the Tale of Genji. Today's bridge is a reconstruction, one of many over the centuries.

On the other riverbank, a long path uphill leads to Koshoji Temple, whose buildings date from the 17th century.

Meanwhile, the streets on this side of the river are fairly quiet and empty.

Along the way back to the train station, peek into some of the historic buildings and you may end up with a surprise.

Uji is under 30 minutes from Kyoto, making it a possible day-trip option as well. The aggressive walker can spend half the day in Uji and then finish the day off in Kyoto.

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