HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OF ONE DAY IN UJI KYOTO: Top Things to do in the Tea City of Japan for a Quintessential Experience in 2023
This article on The best of Uji Kyoto in One Day was last updated on February 25, 2023.
Uji is a small city nestled between the larger cities of Kyoto and Nara, both famous as Japan‘s historical and cultural centres. Famed for its Matcha green tea and renowned for the city’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Uji has its own prominent place in Japan’s history. With a short train journey of thirty minutes from Kyoto to Uji, this charming quaint city is an ideal day trip option. Uji offers its visitors some of the very best things to do, see and experience in a Japan travel itinerary.
However, Uji is often overlooked by first time visitors in favour of Osaka, Kyoto or Nara. As well, it can be a little confusing to navigate the local transport and overwhelming at the same time to figure out where to go and what to see.
In this article, I share the experiences of my visit to Uji from Kyoto when I lived in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, for several months. Uji is one of the best places I visited: surrounded by lush forested hills, picturesque river, thousand-year old architecture, slow-paced with far less people were all a welcoming break from the bustle of Osaka or Kyoto streets. Springtime is especially beautiful with hanami in full play and I can only imagine the fiery crimson red of maple leaves in autumn. I share a planned guide about things to do in Uji, my experienced tips and my travel steps in this historic area.
VISITING KYOTO IN SPRING?
Join a True Hanami Spirit tour for an unforgettable trip in Kyoto during your spring visit. *Includes dinner
In this article:
My guide about one day in Uji here involves spending one full day in Uji, returning to Kyoto in time for supper.
This article gives a little background to the city of Uji and covers details on how to make the best of one day in Uji, Kyoto. The article suggests a carefully planned guide about the top things to do and cultural sights to see along with a walking route which you could follow if exploring on your own. These are the most popular cultural attractions at this little gem which must be seen for a complete experience of Uji. An early start arriving at about 10:00 a.m should also be in the plan.
Getting to Uji is quite straightforward. There are two railway stations managed by two different railway companies. An easy guide about how to get to Uji from Nara, Kyoto and Osaka is included also.
However, if you don’t have a full day to spare, make it a half-day trip to Uji and visit Uji nonetheless. See the very best of this hidden gem in Kyoto. This guided tour by a native English-speaking is a great opportunity to do-away with the hassle of navigating the local streets and overcoming the language barrier. You learn about the history of Uji, myths and legends, along with the tea culture at an ancient teahouse still operating . Visits to the two renowned UNESCO Heritage Sites are included also in this half-a-day tour.
- Is Uji worth visiting?
- About Uji, Kyoto;
- What is the history of Uji?
- An easy guide about how to get to Uji from Nara, Kyoto and Osaka;
- What to do and see in Uji: Top 15 Attractions in Uji that are worth your time;
- Guided experiences;
- My Thoughts about spending one day in Uji, Kyoto;
IS UJI WORTH VISITING?
Uji is a destination worth visiting. A beautiful haven to experience a little rural Japan when you travel to Kyoto. This little off-beat gem is historically famous as the romantic city of Uji, made famous by the world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji. Quaint, tranquil and nature filled, Uji is home to beautiful museums, historic buildings and celebrated matcha tea houses clustered along the banks of its fast flowing Uji River.
While it may be considered too distant a trip for visitors to Tokyo or Hiroshima, travellers take advantage of the seamless and super speedy bullet trains to Osaka and Kyoto to visit this ancient and well-preserved city framed by mountains and valleys, for a timeless experience of tea culture and etiquette in a place where it all began.
You can spend either half a day or one full day exploring this beautiful ancient city. If you are exploring without a knowledgeable guide, a trip to Uji will typically take most of a day, not necessarily an entire day. This gives you time to explore, figuring out your travel steps in this area, and return to Kyoto in time for supper. I recommend that you plan your trip as a one-day visit if exploring independently as Uji is a destination worth visiting and spending time at.
ABOUT UJI KYOTO
Uji is a historical city set in the green valley of South Kyoto. It is popular for its shrines and temples in particular for its two World Heritage sites, the Byodoin Temple and the Ujigami shrine. In addition, Uji is famous for the superior quality of Matcha Green Tea and the Tale of Genji, the world’s first novel.
The City has a bridge and a river named after it. A walk along this river affords you picturesque views of the mountains surrounding this rural town, with some regarding it as one of the most romantic places in Kyoto.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF UJI?
Uji was founded as a city on March 1, 1951 and is the second largest city in Kyoto Prefecture today.
The historical roots of the quaint city of Uji date back to the 4th century. Established by Emperor Ojin, possibly the 15th Emperor of Japan. There are no definitive dates assigned to his birth and reign but traditionally considered to have reigned from 270 to 310. According to Japanese chronicles, Kiki (記紀), Ojin was crowned Emperor in 270 AD when he was 70 years old. He reigned for 40 years until his death in 310 AD. His only son, Ōosazaki, was ordained Emperor in 313 AD.
The city of Uji really came into prominence in the 14th century when tea was introduced in the region. Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu was instrumental in the introduction, cultivation and production of green tea in Uji during his reign from 1358 to 1408.
Uji is said to have the perfect climate for green tea cultivation and is well-known for its superior taste. The area has some of the oldest tea shops in Japan, established in 1160, going back 24 generations.
GREEN TEA FAN?
You will love this tour > Experience and taste the renowned high quality Matcha Green Tea in beverages and foods in Uji, Kyoto.
AN EASY GUIDE ABOUT HOW TO GET TO UJI FROM NARA, KYOTO OR OSAKA
Uji is a small city and is situated between the larger cities of Kyoto and Nara, both famous as Japan’s historical and cultural centres. There are frequent trains from these cities running direct to Uji and makes Uji an easily accessible city if you are visiting one of these larger destinations.
Once in Uji, it is best to navigate the city on foot. The attractions are clearly shown on local maps and these are all located within walking distance.
Uji is served by two railways: JR Line and Keihan Line, each with its respective train stations. Just bear in mind that these two railway stations are not located close to each other. If you are using the JR Line, it is easy to find yourself near to Keihan train station at the end of your day following your visits to the attractions. If you find yourself in this situation, retrace your steps back to your point of arrival or buy a new train ticket for your outward journey.
TIP: Uji Keihan Station is a more favourable option as it is close to all the main attractions in Uji. A landmark to look out for is the Ujibashi Bridge across the Uji River, only minutes away from Keihan Station.
JR Nara Station for the JR LIne: Take the JR Nara Line to Uji JR Station. Journey time is 30 minutes and costs 500 Yen.
JR Kyoto Station for the JR Line: Take the JR Nara Line to Nara and get off at Uji JR Station. The journey takes 17 minutes and costs 240 Yen.
Keihan Kyoto Line: This involves one change at Chushojima for the Keihan-Uji Line. To get to Chushojima, take the Keihan line from Demachiyanagi Station, Sanjo-Keihan Station or Gion-Shijo Keihan Station. These three stations are located in the center of Kyoto and easy to get to. Total journey time is 33 minutes and costs 330 Yen.
Keihan Osaka Line: Take the Keihan Line from Kyobashi and Yodoyabashi stations in Osaka bound for Chushojima. Transfer to the Keihan Uji Line here.
Note about the Keihan Uji Line: The Keihan Uji Line operates between Chushojima Station and Uji Station. All trains on the Keihan Uji Line are local, therefore, it stops at all stations. The good thing is there are only 8 stops on this route and it takes 15 minutes to reach the final stop.
Note about Demachiyanagi Station: Demachiyanagi Station is located at north central Kyoto and is the Kyoto terminus for the Keihan Main Line. Trains from Demachiyanagi Station go to Sanjo and Gion-Shijo as well as Kyobashi and Yodoyabashi in Osaka via Yodo and Hirakata
*Travelling by train in Japan is seamless. Trains are punctual, each time and every time. If at all there is a delay, it can only be measured by seconds instead of minutes.
Go here to the official site for a quick guide about trains in Kyoto Station.
What did Georgina do?
I boarded the Keihan Line from Gion-Shijo Station to Chushojima, and transferred to the local Keihan Uji Line., arriving at Uji for 10:00 a.m.
I wanted to experience what it was like to use the regional trains and see a little of rural Japan. Before this opportunity, I had only used the speedier trains or the bullet trains. I took the train after the morning rush hour, so there was plenty of room and so few people. They were mainly women, going shopping. It was a good experience to ride with the locals and get a glimpse into the local way of life.
WHAT TO DO IN UJI KYOTO: TOP THINGS TO DO IN ONE DAY
As an ancient city, Uji offers many sights of historical interests. This guide covers the most important cultural interests not to miss.
I have listed them in the order of my walking route so you can have an idea of what to expect when you visit.
As you exit either station in Uji, you will find easy signposting that directs you to the surrounding areas. A landmark to look out for is the Ujibashi Bridge across the Uji River.
Here’s how to make the best of one day in Uji, Kyoto:
- Uji-bashi Bridge & Uji River;
- Statue of Murasaki Shikibu;
- Byodoin Temple;
- Taihoan & Uji Tea;
- Ujigami Shrine & Uji Shrine;
- The Tale of Genji Museum;
- Uji’s Riverbank & Bridges;
- To-no Shima Island & the Cormorants;
- Asagiri-bashi Bridge: Ukifune & Prince Niou-no-Miya Memorial Statue;
- Eshin-in Temple;
- Kosho-ji Temple;
- Hashidera Temple – Ho-Join;
- Tsuen-chaya Tea Shop;
- Mampuku-ji Temple.
Walk across the beautiful Uji-Bashi Bridge and Uji River
Just south of Keihan Uji Station, you will see the Uji-bashi Bridge, which goes across the Uji River. A sign on the side of the bridge declares that the bridge is one of the oldest in Japan. This is not entirely true. There was a wooden bridge here, built in 646 AD but this was fought over in wars, destroyed in fires and rebuilt numerous times. Today, you’ll find a sturdy wood-trimmed concrete and steel bridge, standing proudly connecting both banks of the river.
The best way to appreciate the Uji-Bashi Bridge is to walk across it, and along the way, stop and look at the green hills, rushing waters and the red wooden bridges. There is something so calming and soothing about being here and its views. This ancient town is well-preserved.
Pro tip: The Uji-bashi Bridge is an important point because it is from here that you will access the rest of the top cultural attractions the city is known for.
Make a quick stop at the Statue of Murasaki Shikibu
At one end of the bridge you will note a statue of Murasaki Shikibu, the world’s first novelist. She was a poet and a lady-in-waiting in the Imperial court in the 11th century. She wrote “Tale of Genji”, depicting the romantic adventures of a “shining prince”. The last ten chapters of this classic novel are set in the backdrop of Uji. Many sites around this ancient town are associated with the story. The Tale of Genji Museum is dedicated to this literary classic.
Across the Uji-bashi Bridge, you will come to Omotesando Street.
Stroll through the historic Omotesando Street (平等院表参道), Uji, Kyoto
The Omotesando Street is about 300-meter stretch approach to Byodoin Temple (more on this temple, below). This quaint street is lined with tea shops, eateries and souvenir shops. It is famously known as the Green Tea Street of Uji.
Spend some time exploring this quaint street either on your way to Byodoin Temple or on your return.
There are many tea related products which you can try such as “dango” dumplings, soba noodles or ice-cream.
Explore Byōdōin Temple (平等院), Uji, Kyoto
Byōdōin Temple is one of the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uji and its garden is regarded as Pure Land Paradise. This is top landmark and a must-visit cultural site in Uji Kyoto.
To access Byōdōin Temple, you will need to purchase a ticket. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket booths located at the entrance. Once you have bought your entry ticket, take the path on the left, around the lotus pond and this is what you come to… the Phoenix Hall . The view is absolutely magnificent.
The story of this iconic Byōdōin Temple
This 10th century Buddhist Temple was initially built in 998, at the height of political power of the Fujiwara clan during the Heian period (794 to 1192). It was built as a retreat villa for Fujiwara no Michinaga, a powerful politician. The architecture of this temple is spectacularly beautiful and speaks volume.
However, Michinaga’s son, Yorimichi, turned it into a Temple and ordered the construction of the Phoenix Hall which was built in 1053. The building holds a central hall, two long corridors and is home to a three-meter high statue of Amida Buddha.
Amida Buddha is a wooden statue, covered in gold foil, carved by Jocho Busshi, a Heian period sculptor. His speciality was to join multiple pieces of blocks of wood to carve and join it to form a single piece or figure.
What remains today of this temple is this Phoenix Hall which is home to the soaring shining statue in the midst of heavenly beings playing instruments…it is a treasure well-worth a visit at least once! Its unique architecture is unmissable, especially the symmetry and two long corridors that create an impression of wings.
The Phoenix Hall is featured on the flip-side of the Japanese Ten yen coin.
What to look out for when you visit Byodoin Temple
When visiting the Byodoin Temple, take the path around to the rear of the Hall, and you will come to the museum where you can immerse in its history.
One part of the museum holds original artefacts from the temple and the other is almost like walking into a heavenly whirl! Here, dancing celestial beings, child musicians and birds bearing flowers are depicted in rich, vibrant colours. A wonderful creation of how the Phoenix Hall would have appeared during Yorimichi’s time.
*Photography is not allowed in the museum.
Follow the path around the rear of the museum. It brings you to the temple bell. The bell is a replica of the Heian era and the original is housed in the museum, as part of the national treasure collection.
Further along, there are some smaller temples. One of them is a resting place of Minamoto-no-Yorimasa (1106-1180). Yorimasa was a celebrated Heian era poet who got caught up in a conflict between Minamoto and Taira clans. In the ensuing battle in Uji in 1180, Yorimasa along with 300 Minamoto warriors attempted to defend Byodoin Temple against a Taira warriors of 28,000. When Minamoto defences fell, Yorimasa committed ritual suicide. Before he did, he composed his last poem.
“From this old tree
buried in obscurity
no more blooms,
my life ends in sorrow”
How much time is needed for Byodoin Temple visit?
Allow yourself at least an hour in your itinerary. The grounds are beautiful to walk around and enjoy the splendid gardens unhurriedly.
Spend a few extra moments just to relax and take in the serenity of the garden, the lotus pond and the magnificent Temple.
If you are visiting the Phoenix Hall, you may want to allow yourself more time in your plans.
Practical tips and useful information about Byodoin Temple, Uji
The ticket for Byodoin Temple & the Museum Tickets is 600 Yen.
To visit the Phoenix Hall, it is an additional 300 Yen. You purchase this ticket from a ticket booth inside the grounds located near the Phoenix Hall . Visits are timed every 20 minutes, so your ticket will have a time printed on it.
Return to the queuing point for the Phoenix Hall at least 5-minutes before the ticketed time. A guide will lead the group into the hall for a talk about the building. The talk is in Japanese, no audio guides are available. It is a narrow hallway and photography is disallowed.
Even if you do not understand Japanese, it is still worth paying the extra to view the statue and its interior at least once in your lifetime, after-all you are there already.
The grounds of the Byodoin Temple are open throughout the year between 08:30 and 17:30. The museum is open from 09:00 to 17:00. The Last entry to Byodoin Temple is 15 minutes before closing. For more information about the history, art and culture of this beautiful location, see the Byodoin Temple official website.
Visit Taihoan & Experience the noble Uji Tea
Uji is famous for its green tea or its Matcha Green Tea.
From a historical perspective, Uji Tea or Green Tea was a popular drink amongst the nobleman and priests in Japan. However, it is ironic that green tea was virtually unheard of in Japan when it first arrived from China in the 700s. It was during the Kamakura period, between 1192 and 1333, that green tea leaves imported from China was cultivated in Uji. This led to popularity amongst the noblemen and priests.
The benefits of green tea, its cultivation and preparation was introduced in a book written by a Zen priest, Eisei. Eisei brought Zen Buddhism to Japan from China, hence, bestowing Uji the reputation of producing superior quality green tea as it was the first place to cultivate green tea.
To experience an authentic and traditional Japanese tea ceremony, go over to Taihoan, a short walk from Byodoin Temple.
The best Tea House in Uji for an authentic experience
A short walk from Byodoin Temple, at the southern bank of Uji River, you will find Taihoan, a public tea house.
Taihoan was built to promote Uji tea and to spread the pleasure of drinking Matcha green tea. It serves Matcha tea (powdered green tea) in a traditional tea-house setting and the centuries old tea ceremony etiquette is observed.
Here, visitors can enjoy real Uji tea and seasonal snacks. It offers visitors who wish to do so, a unique opportunity to participate in authentic tea ceremony procedures.
To experience the tea culture at Taihoan, you need to pre-book at least 3 days prior. The fee starts from 1,000 Yen and more if you want to participate in the tea ceremony.
Add: 2 Ujitogawa, Uji, Kyoto Prefecture
*Credit cards are not accepted here, so have some cash with you.
How to learn more about Japanese Green Tea when visiting Uji
Would you like to learn more about Japanese Green Tea specifically?
You may wonder what makes Japanese Green Tea so special? Well, the best way to find out is to join a guided tour dedicated to sharing all about Matcha tea grown in this special region.
This Matcha Green Tea tour is an opportunity for you to experience some of the local tea shops, stroll the beautiful streets of this preserved ancient city, enjoy a delicious lunch, dishes made or sprinkled with Matcha tea and learn to make and drink Matcha green tea. If this is the kind of experience and timeless memory you would like to take home with you, BOOK YOUR DATE ahead of your travels. Get all your questions answered about Matcha green tea and the region during this tour.
*A visit to Byodoin Temple is included.
Visit the Heritage sites of Ujigami Shrine and Uji Shrine (宇治上神社)
The Ujigami Shrine is believed to date back to as early as 1060 during the Heian period. It is the 2nd of the two UNESCO World Heritage sites in Uji. It is the guardian shrine to Byodoin Temple. Though not as glamorous as its Buddhist neighbour, this beautiful shrine blends well into the wooded hill.
Ujigami shrine also known as the Upper shrine by the locals is a Shinto shrine and its architecture is very simple.
About 100m south of Ujigami shrine is the Uji shrine, also in the simple nagare-zukuri architectural style.
Both of these shrines were once considered as part of one shrine complex but were divided in 1868. It is said that the original complex was built on the site of a royal villa belonging to prince Uji-no-Wakairatsuko. There are a couple of legends associated with this story.
The legends of Ujigami and Uji Shrines
According to its story, Emperor Ojin (c.300) chose his younger son, Uji-no-Wakairatsuko to succeed him. Upon the emperor’s death, the young prince refused the throne as he felt his elder brother was the rightful successor. However, the elder prince refused the throne as he did not want to go against the wishes of his father. After three years of dispute, Wakairatsuko threw himself in the Uji-gawa River, leaving the throne to his brother. His brother became Emperor Nintoku.
Now, Emperor Ojin and both the princes’ are all enshrined as kami (gods) in the upper Ujigami shrine.
As you walk through the grounds of both the shrines, you will notice a repeated rabbit motif. The water fountain at the entrance to the shrine where you must wash your hands before entering is in the shape of a rabbit. In the upper shrine, you will find a range of amulets and charms decorated with rabbit designs. There is a legend associated with the rabbit and it involves prince Waikairatsuko.
According to legend, prince Waikairatsuko lost his way in the mountains and a rabbit showed him theway back to Uji. The rabbit would hop along a little way, look back at the prince as if to say “follow me” before hopping on a little further. This “looking back rabbit” (‘mikaeri usagi’) is the guardian spirit of Ujigami shrine. People pray to mikaeri usagi so it can show them the right way to live their lives.
Honden and Haiden at Ujigami and Uji shrines
The Honden or the main hall is where the kami (gods) reside. The structure consists of three separate buildings covered by a single cypress bark roof. Built in the nagare-zukuri architectural style, which is a curved assymetrical roof, extending more on the side of the main entrance than on the opposite side. This design is such to provide shelter to the worshippers. The Honden dates back over a thousand years to the Heian period and is the oldest Shinto building of its kind in Japan.
Before you reach the Honden, you will see Haiden (a worship hall). The Haiden dates back to 1215 and was built for human use. It is more open, airy and has a residential style feel to it. This too, is the oldest Shinto worship hall in Japan.
Useful information on Ujigami and Uji Shrines in Uji, Kyoto
The shrines are open all year round, from 09:00 to 16:30. There is no admission charge.
Give yourself anything between 15 to 30 minutes. It is really quiet and peaceful here. On my visit, I observed a painter sketching the beautiful view from the top of the stairs looking ahead. It was rather pretty.
Ujigami Shrine is on the north of Uji River, close to the Tale of Genji Museum.
JR Line – 15 minutes walking distance;
Keihan Line – 10 minutes walking distance.
It is about 10 to 15 minutes (depends how distracted you get from the enchanting scenery around you) from Byodoin Temple, across the river via a small island connected by bridges.
Go to the Tale of Genji Museum
From Ujigami shrine, continue on the path up the slope. This path will take you to th Tale of Genji Museum. The museum is an excellent centre to immerse in Murasaki Shikibu’s world of Heian literature.
Various scenes from the novel are on display, from models to real scenery and traditional Japanese puppetry.
An audio guide is available and is an invaluable aid to guide you around the museum.
The Tale of Genji Museum is open from 09:00 to 17:00. The last entry is at 16:30. Admission costs 500 Yen.
Enjoy a stroll along Uji’s Riverbank and Bridges
One of the best things to do in Uji is to take a stroll along Uji’s riverbank. Here, you will find several bridges connecting both the riverbanks. Some of the significant bridges include Kisen-bashi and Asagiri-bashi,
Kisen-bashi Bridge, To-no Shima Island and the Cormorants
One notable bridge is the Kisen-bashi bridge which connects to To-no shima Island. One striking feature is a thirteen-tiered pagoda which was built in 1286 as a prayer of compassion for animals. Towards the west of the bridge, you’ll find a cage filled with cormorants. The cormorants are used for ‘Ukai’, a traditional fishing method where they dive for fish, capture them and then cough them up for the benefit of their masters. You can view this show in the early evening from mid-June to late September.
From To-no shima Island, make your way across Asagiri-bashi bridge, the longest of the three bridges here. Here you’ll find a memorial statue in regard to the “Uji Chapters” of The Tale of Genji. The statue portrays Ukifune and Prince Niou-no-Miya in a boat on Ujigawa River. Many scenes in the final ten chapters of The Tale of Genji take place in Uji.
The maiden Ukifune, meaning “floating boat” was caught-up in a bitter love rivalry between Prince Niou-no-Miya and Genji’s son, Kaoru. Ukifune eventually throws herself into the Uji-gawa to break free from the competing attentions of the Prince and Kaoru.
Ukifune and Prince Niou-no-Miya memorial statue
Directly across the Ukifune and Prince Niou-no-Miya memorial statue is a path that leads to Eshin-in Temple. Eshin-in Temple was founded by Eshin Sozu, a Buddhist priest also known as Genshin (942-1017). He was featured as the character Yokawa in the Tale of Genji.
According to the story, Ukifune gets washed up to the banks of the river and is rescued by the monks. The priest Yokawa nurses Ukifune back to health and encourages her to find peace and retreating to a nunnery.
Eshin-in is a small temple and there is not much to see here except a beautiful garden of hydrangea. June is the perfect time to see them in full bloom.
From Eshin-ni, head west along the river and follow signs to Kosho-ji Temple. Leave the river path and enter a lush tree-lined tunnel, the approach to the temple. At the end of the tunnel, you’ll see a Chinese style gate. Go through the gate to the gardens. To enter the building, you’ll have to go through the entrance on the left. Here, you need to ring the bell for a monk to come and collect the 300 Yen entry fee. Inside you can explore more hidden gardens.
Kosho-ji is a Soto Zen temple, founded in Fukakusa by priest Dogen in 1233. When this temple fell into disrepair, it was re-established in Uji in 1649. The present temple was built using logs brought from the disassembled Fushimi Castle.
Kosho-ji is open from 09:00 to 16:00 daily except during the New Year holidays. You can participate in Zazen Meditation at the temple by pre-booking online.
Re-trace your steps back and follow the course of the river west towards Keihan Uji station. You will come to Hashidera Temple
Hashidera Temple is on the east bank of the Uji River, just 5 minutes walk from Ujigami Shrine.
Hashidera Temple – Ho-join
Hashi-dera, simply means “Bridge Temple” is the guardian temple of Uji-bashi Bridge. The temple’s official name is Hojo-in, which means “release life” temple.
The name “release life” is derived from a special Buddhist ceremony of compassion dating back to 1264 when birds were freed from their cages. The temple still continues this tradition today.
Hashidera is open daily from 09:00 to 16:00 from November through March and till 17:00 from April through October.
Tsuen-chaya Tea Shop
Situated in the corner by Uji-bashi Bridge and across Keihan Uji Station is Tsuen-chaya tea shop, the oldest tea shop in Japan.
Tsuen-chaya makes a great stop for a break at this stage of your one day in Uji, as you head back to Keihan Uji Station for your return journey to Kyoto. You can have tea, desserts or simple Matcha tea flavoured ice-cream.
Depending on how your day is and if you still have the energy, there is just one more temple which you may like to see. It is a gorgeous temple on vast grounds and worth the journey.
Mampuku-ji Temple (萬福寺), Uji, Kyoto
Mampukuji Temple was the head temple of Zen Obaku sect and was founded in 1661 by Ingen, a Chinese monk. Ingen was the founder of Zen Buddhism and was responsible for importing the Zen Obaku sect, the most recent form of Zen Buddhism from China into Japan. The architecture is distinctively Chinese, incorporating contemporary designs of the Ming Dynasty. It is profoundly peaceful and quiet here.
The temple grounds are extensive, set out as a courtyard, connected by stone paved path. It has beautiful Zen gardens surrounded by raked pebbles. There were not many people here when I arrived and gave me an opportunity to get “lost” in the extensive space! Mampuku-ji is one of my favourite temples in Kyoto.
Mampuku-ji is popular for Shojin Ryori, a sophisticated Buddhist cuisine. It is the traditional dining style of Buddhist monks in Japan and became associated with Zen Buddhism in the 13th century. If you want to experience this traditional dining, you need to book in advance.
Manpuku-ji Temple is open from 09:00 to 17:00 with the last entry at 16:30. Admission fee is 500 Yen
Getting to Mampukuji Temple, Uji
JR Line: Mampukuji is about five minutes from Obaku Station on the JR Nara Line.
Keihan Railways: Take the Kyoto Keihan Line from Gion-Shijo Station to Keihan Obaku Station. The one way trip takes about 20 minutes, costs around 310 Yen. It requires a transfer of trains at Chushojima Station.
Trains run every 5 minutes between Keihan Obaku and Uji Stations, and Obaku is only two stops from Uji. Tickets are 150 Yen. Mampukuji is 10 minutes walk from Keihan Obaku Station.
*You can also take the local trains between Kyoto and Obaku but these trains stops frequently, at every station and takes about half-an hour.
Alternatively, you can walk to Mampukuji in 30-40 minutes from Uji Bridge.
In addition to the above landmarks and things to do in Uji, take a look at the following selected guided experiences also that are worth considering. Even if you add one or two of these experiences, it will make your Kyoto vacation really special:
- Food & Culture tour in Gion
- Gion Food Tour in the Evening;
- Take part in a Tea Ceremony at Jotokuji Temple;
- Visit Nishiki Market and Gion;
- Learn to be a Samurai Warrior.
Among all the cultural attractions I visited in Uji in one day, I spent the longest time at the Byodoin Temple. I enjoyed the walk along Uji’s Riverbank and had a great time at Mampuku-ji Temple. I hope this one day guide about the top things to do in Uji Kyoto will help you make the best of your one day in Uji as well.
Happy exploring Uji, the historic romantic ancient tea town in Kyoto. Before you go, take a look at some of our related articles for inspiration to travel to other regions in Japan:
- Best time to go to Japan;
- Guide to Cherry Blossoms in Japan;
- Etiquette at a Shinto Shrine;
- Books on Shintoism;
- Japan Travel Guide;
- The Best 5 Cultural Attractions in Kyoto that You Must See;
- The Best Two Flea Markets in Kyoto that You Must Experience;
- Mount Hiei: Sacred Mountain in Kyoto;
- An Easy Guide to Lake Biwa, Kyoto;
- Best of Uji in One Day;
- Murasaki Imo: The Rich Japanese Soft Serve Ice-cream;
Day Trips from Kyoto
- Best of Hiroshima in One Day;
- Guide to Two Days in Hiroshima and Miyajima;
- Best of Miyajima Island in One Day;
- Best Ways to get to Hiroshima;
- Okonomiyaki: Hiroshima Soul Food;
KYOTO TRIP USEFUL CHECKLIST
- For an overview of my essential tips about visiting Japan, see my Japan Travel page;
- Need tips on when to visit Japan? See this essential guide about the Best Time to Visit Japan;
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – You can usually reserve your room with no upfront payment. Pay at the hotel when you get there. Free cancellation too.
- Buy an E-SIM Mobile Data Plan to suit and activate it as soon as you need it. You could also rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router which I personally found especially invaluable during my stay in Japan;
- Visiting more than one city? Save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass;
BASICS FOR KYOTO, JAPAN