Last week’s post was about Rajio taisou (ラジオたいそう / ラジオ体操), so this week I need to start with う (u). A big thank you to everyone who joined in this week – ZoomingJapan with unagi (うなぎ / eel) and Umeda (梅田), and tokyo5 who suggested undoukai (運動会 / sports day) because Monday was Taiiku-no-hi (体育の日 / Health and Sports Day). They were great suggestions, but this week I decided to do some virtual travelling, and so I’m going to write about a place I’ve never been…
Uji (うじ / 宇治)
Uji-shi (宇治市 / Uji City) is a city in Kyoto Prefecture. Although I’ve been to a lot of places in Kyoto, I never made it to Uji, which is south of the main city of Kyoto. If you drag this map below or view the larger version, you can see a marker for Kyoto Station and another marker for Uji Station. It’s not that far from Kyoto at all – only about 20 minutes by train – and conveniently located between Kyoto and Nara.
If you have limited time in Kyoto, Uji would be a place to skip, but if you have time there are a couple of interesting tourist spots there, and it seems like a beautiful place. Uji City sits on the Uji River (Uji-gawa), which has its source at Lake Biwa. It looks like a really nice place to stop and take in the view.
Although there are a number of shrines and temples in Uji, the most famous tourist spot is Byodo-in (平等院). Byodo-in, which is listed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto”, is known for being the temple featured on the reverse of the ten Yen coin.
The image featured on the coin is Byodo-in’s Phoenix Hall, built in 1053, which houses a single sculpture of the Buddha Amida.
Nearby Ujigami Jinja (宇治上神社) is also worth visiting if you’re in the area. Also registered as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto”, the shrine was built as a guardian shrine for Byodo-in. According to my Lonely Planet Kyoto City Guide, “Ujigami-jinja holds the distinction of being Japan’s oldest shrine. Despite its historical significance, the shrine is the least interesting of Kyoto’s 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites.” Still, I reckon it’s worth stopping by if you’re going to Byodo-in anyway.
Uji is a production and distribution centre of quality green tea and is home to the oldest tea shop in Japan – the Tsuen tea shop (お茶の通園) – which has been serving tea since 1160. If you’d like to visit the tea shop, you can find out more about its location here. It’s still in operation today, and looks like it would be the perfect place to stop and sample the local refreshments.
(Image: Visit Japan)
If you’re a bit of a Japanese literature fan, one final reason to visit Uji is for the Tale of Genji museum. The Tale of Genji (源氏物語 / Genji Monogatari) is a famous piece of 11th century Japanese literature (which I have yet to read, although it is on my bookshelf…), and the last ten chapters take place in Uji. The museum’s website (which is in various languages including English), shows what’s available in the museum in great depth, and it looks like a really interesting place to visit – although probably only if you have some interest in Japanese history or literature. There is even a statue of the author, Murasaki Shikibu, in Uji.
My list of ‘places to visit in Japan’ gets longer by the day, and now Uji has been added too.
Uji (うじ) ends with じ (ji), so next week I will be looking for a noun beginning with “ji”. If you have any suggestions, please leave them below and I’ll give you a mention next week. It’s getting tougher now as the year comes to an end, so I really appreciate your ideas and input! But don’t forget, no words ending in ん! (^_^)v