June 29, 2014
By Miki Hamada and Emiri Iwagami
A long time ago, Yoshimitsu, the Third Shogun of the Ashikaga Shogunate ordered a tea plantation be made in the hills around Uji, a town southwest of Kyoto. It is know for Byodoin Temple and the Uji River. Ever since, Uji has become well known for its fine green teas. The surrounding environs are especially good for growing tea because of the morning mists that come off the Uji River. Today, Uji is a first-class Japanese tea producing area, and so naturally there are many teashops in the city. Nakamura Tokichi is one of them.The Nakamura family, the founders of Nakamura Tokichi, has been entirely devoted to tea for the past 160 years. Nowadays, their long-established shop has become popular with all kinds of people. In addition to its regular clientele, new customers include young women and Japanese and foreign tourists. Why is Nakamura Tokichi so popular today and loved by so many?
Recently the shop embarked on a new project to revitalize its traditions. In 2001 they made café space to sell sweets. There you can try Japanese tea, powdered green tea (macha) and sweets that are made with powdered green tea. Among their sweets are macha chocolates, macha soft ice cream, and jellies. Nama-cha jelly, along with green tea and teabags, are their most popular products. The shop sells various traditional teas as well, both bitter and sweet. Information about each product has been translated into English and is included in the packaging. The opinions of customers are included as well. Seasonal products are also sold. In the spring, the first tea of the season comes in. This is called shin-cha in Japan. Nakamura Tokichi also makes shincha jelly from fresh new leaves. In summer, cold-brewed green tea is sold; in winter, green tea of medium quality is available. Customers can choose from many different tea products all year long.
There is a beautiful garden in back that has a 200-year-old pine tree. Because its shape resembles that of a boat, it is called Horai-funa-matsu —“the pine in the shape of the boat to Mt. Horai.” Mt. Horai is a mythical mountain where Chinese immortals lived. The tree is 6meters high and the trunk is 1.3 meters in diameter. It is said that it was planted by the second generation of the Nakamura family. The garden has been regularly kept from the second generation. From café terrace you can see this beautiful pine. It received a famous tree award from Uji city.
In 2009 Nakamura Tokichi was selected as an official “Cultural Landscape,” a UNESCO designation that places value on the mosaic of natural environment, climate and a human livelihood that has been maintained over generations. This designation was created at the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. Nakamura Tokichi was chosen because its head office building is representative of a tea merchant’s house from the Meiji Period. The Nakamura Fujiyoshi Byodoin shop is an historical building that was once the restaurant-inn Kikuya in the Edo period.
Tea Ceremony Experience
- Make macha powder by grinding tea on the millstone.
- Enter the special tearoom built in the Genroku era (300 years ago).
You will be served macha jelly.
3. Drink koi-cha by turns. Koi-cha is a thick and strong macha made from high-class green tea powder
4. Drink usu-cha by turns. Usu-cha is a light and weak macha.
Place: tea room Zuishou-an
Time: 45~60 minutes
Expense: 2,160 yen per person
Application: To participate, you have to make reservations.
Tel: 0774-22-7800 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekdays : store 10:00～17:30
Café 11:00～17:30 (last Order17:00)
Holidays: store 10:00～18:00
Café 11:00～18:00 (last Order17:15)
Macha jelly Usu-cha Kitsune cha soba