Even though Kansai is very huge, but for the first visit, most of the tourist would choose to go to Osaka, Nara, Kobe, and Kyoto, etc. If you are visiting Kyoto, on the way to Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社), do consider visitingUji City and experience a relaxing afternoon!
Uji is not very big, the tourism activities arefocused mainly around Uji Bridge
Speaking of Uji, it would remind you of UjiMatcha, UjiMacha is very famous whetherits locally or internationally, you can see all types of matcha products on the street. There is also vending machine which sells Uji Tea, one of the famous shop is Nakamuratoukichi(中村藤吉本店), even though you have to queue for it, but the menu and tatami is decorated with Japanese style.
It is difficult to find anything that is not related to tea in Uji, in the above picture,お茶そば is a tea soba which is very fresh and appetizing, it is great snack for those who are travelling.
Most visible snacks in Uji are icecream and dumplings, one of the must-eat-food is the soft and smooth matchaicecream, even though you can easily find matchaicecreamanywehere, but thematcha ice-cream inUji’s is very unique, it is not only very soft, it is full flavored, definitely recommended!
Uji City is not very big, if you are visiting the city by foot, it might take you 3-4 hours, and you don’t have to plan a detailed itinerary, because there aren’t many attractions. The must-go attractions are Byodoin Temple, Uji Shrine, Uji Park and etc. It is suggested that you go for a relaxing afternoon trip in Uji, enjoy the red bridges and the variety of snacks available along the streets; it is a relaxing trip which helps to recharge your body and soul.
Byodo-in Temple is one of the world heritage sites, there is an image of Byodo-in on the 10 Yen coin, one of the highlights of the temple is the grandly decorated Phoenix Hall, it is built based on the Western Paradise, and it is worth visiting the Amida sculpture and the indoor decorations.
If you are done with Byodo-in, basically you have finish visiting Uji City (I am not kidding!), you can also visit Uji Shrine and Uji Park which is located at the center of the river, remember to take your time!
This is my third time visiting Uji, even though most of the tourist would think that visiting Uji is a waste of time, but it only takes half a day to tour the city. I love that the city is filled with the smell of tea, it is a very peaceful small town which is full of Japanese-style decorations (even though there are not many convenient store), enjoy the view while sitting in the Uji Park, experience a relaxing tour. If you don’t like going to the busy cities, Uji city is a good choice for you.
Japanese-style red bridges can be seen everywhere in Uji City, enjoy the view of the Uji River from the bridge and watch the birds fishing; it gives you a unique experience.
Uji is a very peaceful town, one side of the Uji River acts as a reflection mirror while the other side of the Uji River shows you the beauty of small waves; it is one of my favorite rivers.
At nights, both sides of the river would be decorated with laterns, it makes you feels like you are in not in a bustling city.
Most of the visitors leave the town around 5-6pm; most of the stores are close at night. However, there are few activities that you can join in Uji, I stayed for a longer night because I joined the Pelican Fishing Night.
The Pelican trainer can be seen training the pelican before the show.
There are not many places where you can see pelican fishing, in 2015, there are only 6 places in Japan which you can watch pelican fishing and most of it are on-going for limited period, pelican fishing in Uji River is usually held between June to September. It is usually happens at night, the visitors will have to sit on the observation boat and listen to the description by the boatman, watch how the pelican trainers use pelicans to fish, they are actually taking fishes from the pelican’s mouth.
The boatman will introduce you to the history and knowledge about Pelican Fishing, the origin of the tradition, the growth of the pelicans… You can experience how focused the Japanese are while listening to the story.
The pelican trainer uses a few strings to control the pelicans to fish.
The pelican trainers are the experts, within a few minutes, the pelican with fishes will be pulled back to the boat.
Watching the pelican fishing in the dark nights, together with the campfire and applause from the visitors, it really gives you a different travelling experience in Japan. If you are a group of friends (at least 8 and above), you can rent a boat to enjoy pelican fishing while enjoying your meal, it is a rare experience, if you are visiting Kyoto in the summer, do consider this activity!
Watching the Uji town at night, I think I will come back for the fourth time.