The best shops we selectted in Uji City

October 3, 2017

By Yu Sakamoto, Tashi Nisikawa and Kazu Shibao

There are many sightseeing spots in Kyoto, such as Amanohashidate, Uji, Fushimi Inari Shrine, etc. There are so many wonderful sightseeing places that the list of examples is endless. This is a wonderful thing about Kyoto, but some people are confused by too many sightseeing spots. If you could stay longer, you would go to various places, but not everyone can stay for a long time. I would like many people to visit so many places and have lots of good experiences. Therefore, I’d like to tell you how to enjoy sightseeing efficiently even if you stay a short while. This guidance is for Uji, which is also popular with local people. Uji has plenty of places to see the sights. I will introduce a sightseeing itinerary that does not waste time.

First of all, we will introduce the history of Uji city. Uji city is located around the beautiful, clean Uji River, and is graced with many temples and shrines, which is indicative of Uji city’s long history and rich culture. In Uji city there are two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Ujigami Shrine and Byodoin Temple were registered in December 1994. In this area. From the15th century to the 16th century, Uji city was a place of a lot of fighting where various generals fought to control Japan. Since that time, Uji city has spent many peaceful years and Uji city has become a cultural center of Japan. Uji city has many historical sights and famous cultural specialties. Also, Uji Green Tea is the best and most famous Japanese Tea. We will show you some great tea shops in this article, and please enjoy it in traditional tea houses.

At first, I recommend you to take a train as the easiest way to go to Uji. Because most of the spots of Uji that can be enjoyed are in front of the station, if you get to the station you just have fun! However, there are two Uji stations, so some people are confused. One is JR line. The other is the Keihan line. Either way you get off. Therefore, the train to ride depends on where you are. When coming from Kyoto if you are near Kyoto Station, please use JR line. If you are near Kawaramachi please use the Keihan line. Likewise, if you are coming from Osaka, you can take JR or the Keihan line.

  • When you are near Kyoto station
  1. First of all, please buy a ticket to Uji station. (240 yen for one way)
  2. Please look for the time table board for the train in the direction to Nara
  3. Once you get on the train you do not need to change trains and you will arrive at Uji station in about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • When you are near Kawaramachi
  1. First of all, please buy a ticket to Uji Station at Gion Shijo Station. (310 yen for one way)
  2. Please get down to the platform, number 2 and get on the limited express train bound for Yodoyabashi.
  3. From there, we get off after 3 stops (about 10 minutes) in Chushojima and transfer.
  4. Please go to the platform number 3 in Chushojima and get on the Keihan Uji Line and get off after 7 stops (15 minutes) in Uji.

In Uji city, there are a lot of stores. So, when you go there, you can easily become confused. Therefore, we have put together a guide to the best shops in Uji city. When you come out of the Kyohan station, you can see the bridge front of the station. You need to cross the bridge, then you can see Torii gate. Here is the start point on this guide in our article. In this point, there have two ways. Please go left side. Do not go to the Torii gate way.

 

This way.

Torii gate. Not this way.

 

 

Kyo-Food: Uji Kawa Ryokan.

 

At the very beginning, when you first enter the left side way, you can see the shop on your left. In this shop, you can enjoy the river view from the room and you can eat Kyo-food. This shop is a Ryokan (Japanese traditional style hotel), so you can stay there if you like. If you want to eat some native Kyo- food, we suggest you visit this shop.

 

 

 

Obanzai buffet: Rokujyoan.

 

Just nearby Uji Kawa Ryokan, you can find you can find an obanzai store named Rokujyoan. In this shop, you can eat obanzai. Obanzai is the word for home cooking in Kyoto dialect. You can eat different kinds of obazai food, and this shop is buffet style so you can eat many foods. This is a great place to have a lunch time. If you want to eat obanzai, we suggest you visit this shop.

 

 

 

Green Tea Takoyaki and Soft Cream Shop: Tako Q.

 

After Rokujyoan, walk straight to about 1 minute. You can see the shop. In this shop, you can have green tea, takoyaki and soft cream. Green tea takoyaki is a rare food in Japan. If you visit Uji city, you should try to eat green tea takoyaki. It will become a great memory.

 

 

 

Old Green Tea Shop: Akamon-chaya.

 

Have you ever drunk green tea beer before? At the Akamon-chaya, you can have a green tea beer. After Tako Q, walk straight to about 4 minutes. After that, you can see three ways. You need to go left side. Then you can see the shop. In this shop, you can also experience how to make green tea. This shop has an old history. This shop using a great high level green tea, so the price is little expensive. However, you can feel Japanese traditional in this shop. We will recommend drinking green tea beer. It is so sweet and you can feel green tea smells in your mouth after drinking this beer.

 

 

Byodoin Temple.

 

 

Walk straight to Uji bridge shopping street, you will see the entrance of Byodoin temple. This temple is opened at 8:30 a.m. and closed at 5:30 p.m., so do not go too late, otherwise you can’t go in.

Byodoin temple is a Buddhist temple which was built in the late Heian period, 794 to 1185. This temple is registered as a World Heritage site. Also, this temple is very famous for being on the reverse of the 10-yen coin, and the phoenix which you can find behind is on the 10000 yen-note.

In the area of Byodoin temple, there is a huge pond around the temple. There are many carp so you can feel Japan very much. Furthermore, there is a museum named Hosyokan in which you can see the history of Byodoin temple. The entrance fee is 600 yen for adults, 400 yen for junior high school students, 300 yen for elementary school students. In addition, if you would like to go inside of Byodoin temple, you need to pay 300 yen more. You might think it’s little bit expensive, but I’m for sure it’s worth it.

 

Green tea restaurant: Itokyuemon.

Walk along Uji river, you can see the restaurant named Itokyuemon just nearby Keihan Uji station. This restaurant is very famous for maccha, and at this restaurant we ate maccha soba, maccha cheese tart with hoji tea jelly and maccha parfait. You can smell maccha very much from each meal but especially Maccha soba. You think these two don’t match well but once you eat this soba you will change your opinion. Also, the maccha plus cheese tart is quite unique combination as well. Taste of maccha is very rich and creamy. Apparently, a famous TV show reported this maccha cheese tart. Furthermore, this maccha parfait is one of the best maccha parfaits I’ve ever had. The price is 680 yen, so it’s very reasonable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you find any interesting store?? This is our best way to experience Uji. In addition, there are a lot of other interesting stores or spots in Uji. It’s maybe good idea that have a look around while referring our article. Anyway, enjoy your Kyoto trip!

Nakamura Tokichi—Experiencing the Green Teas of Uji

By Miki Hamada and Emiri Iwagami

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Tea Ceremony Experience

  1. Make macha powder by grinding tea on the millstone.
  2. 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: shop@tokichi.jp

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Cafe

Business hours:

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)

 

Menu

Macha jelly        Usu-cha                  Kitsune cha soba

yぴうじゅ

 

Sen no Rikyu -The Greatest Tea Master

 Airi Kinoshita

What do you associate with the Japanese tea ceremony? Many people may come up with quietness or emphasized simplicity, but how many of them know that these ideas were actually introduced by Sen no Rikyu.  In fact, in the Muromachi period (1337~1573), the upper classes, including samurai and relations of the royal family, enjoyed tea ceremonies where expensive china for the tea cups was used and lots of guests were invited.  However, thanks to the revolutionary thinking of Sen no Rikyu, the Japanese tea ceremony became more refined in style.

 Who was Sen no Rikyu?

He was born in 1522, in what is today’s Osaka prefecture, as the son of a warehouse owner.  He started learning the way of tea at a young age, and by the time he was just nineteen, he had already met the great tea master Takeno Jo-o whose teachings would influence him tremendously throughout his life.  Late in his life, Sen no Rikyu was called to serve Oda Nobunaga, the most powerful general of that time.  After the death of the general, he was employed as a tea master by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who succeeded Nobunaga and controlled Japan.  Unfortunately, however, there was sometimes friction between Rikyu and Toyotomi, and this eventually led to Toyotomi forcing Rikyu to commit ritual suicide in 1591.     

 What did Rikyu search for to improve the style of the tea ceremony?

Sen no Rikyu and his teacher Takeno Jo-o set about trying to introduce the spirit of wabi-sabi into the tea ceremony.  Wabi–sabi is a traditional Japanese view of beauty, in which something simple, imperfect and transient is valued.  The new style of tea ceremony invented by Rikyu was known as wabi-cha, and became widespread and very popular.  The central idea of Rikyu’s new style of tea ceremony was to let guests feel as comfortable as possible, avoiding the use of strict rules and over-elaboration.

The room the wabi-cha style was held in was tiny compared with those used in other ceremony styles, and designed to allow natural light into the interior.  Furthermore, the garden that could be viewed from the room was also considered to be a part of the tea room, and therefore should be beautiful, well- maintained but quite natural.    

Hospitality in the tea ceremony

One word to explain the spirit of the wabi-cha style is “ich-go-ich-e”, meaning “this occasion and this meeting may come only once in a lifetime, therefore it should be highly valued”.  It is taken for granted that the host make the tea there and then, and prepare different sweets to enjoy with the tea for every ceremony, according to who is invited, what the guest would like, or the season, date and time the ceremony is held.  However, it is not only the food or drink that the host takes care over, but also the furniture, artworks and tea cups.  These are carefully selected to best suit each  invited guest.

Recently people may have become too busy to enjoy the tea ceremony, but the spirit of wabi- cha must not be forgotten.  If you are interested in Sen no Rikyu’ s beliefs, please try to highly value at least one occasion and one meeting in your life more than you might have done before reading this article.  

                             

Teramachi-dori (Teramachi Street)

by Shiho Tanaka and Keita Matsui

About Teramachi-dori

Teramachi-dori is one of the most famous streets in Kyoto city. This street has a variety of characteristics, and a calm ambience.  There are many good stores from south of Kyoto City Hall to north of the center of Kyoto. These stores can be both tasteful and traditional, but on the other hand, there are also a number that offer modern styling for Japanese people. University students in Kyoto often go here to shop, and we often go there, too, as we like the clothes you can buy on this street. There are always many people around on the weekend because there are lots of people from different places, so if you hate crowds you should go on a week day.

Teramachi-dori signpost

The History of Teramachi-dori

From the Heian period to the time of Sengoku, Teramachi-dori’s width was around 32meters. This wide thoroughfare was named Higashikyogoku-oji, and was considered a high-class residential area. However, it was badly damaged during the Ohnin and Bunmei revolts. Teramachi-dori was actually named by Toyotomi Hideyoshi over four hundred years ago, as he decided to locate specific temples and shrines here. In the Meiji period, smart shops were opened, one by one, including confectionery stores and the first photo studio in Kyoto. In the Heisei period, a sheltered sidewalk was created to make the Teramachi shopping arcade, and it became the Teramachi-dori we are familiar with today.

A Variety of Shops

First, we will introduce clothes shops. There are many clothes shops here, catering for the young to the old, so people of all generations can enjoy shopping. There are a number of Kyoto specialist stores in which you can buy goods with a Kyoto look and original style. There are also some interesting Japanese-style confectionery outlets, which sell every type of Japanese-style sweets. And you can also buy many uniquely Japanese things, for example, Furoshiki, Noren, Obi and so on. In addition, there are many stores selling all kinds of items from comics to rice bowls. We are sure you can get a feel for the Japanese mind and culture through them. There are also many kinds of restaurants for the food lovers to enjoy. For example, there are traditional and modern Japanese restaurants, coffee shops, Italian and Indian restaurants, and so on. You can eat just about whatever you want to here. For the tea lovers, there are green tea stores too, with Houraido and Ippodo being the best examples. They are really good tea stores, and the Ippodo Tea Warehouse is a particularly famous Japanese specialist tea emporium. So many kinds of tea, and all so delicious, it will be really hard to choose. Don’t worry though, if you can’t come to Kyoto, you can buy them on the Internet.

Ippodo Tea Emporium

Around Teramachi-dori

Parallel to Teramachi-dori to the east in the downtown section, you can visit Shinkyogoku-dori. This street is very famous too, and there are lots of restaurants, clothes shop and other stores for young people. You can keep up with all the latest and popular fashions and food by visiting here. Nishiki-dori also runs east to west across the southern part of Teramachi-dori, and is a very good place for foreign visitors because there are many special food and cultural products of Kyoto on sale here. If you go to Teramachi-dori, you should also go to these places to make sure you have seen the best of what Kyoto has to offer. Have a great time!!

Shinkyogoku covered arcade

 

Uji’s Morihan Tea

by Mochizuki Ayana and Yuki Kurisu

Morihan (森半) is the name of a well-established tea company in Uji, a small town just south of Kyoto. Uji is famous for the tea grown in the surrounding hills and so naturally many tea companies and tea shops are located here. Morihan offers many different tea products that, according to its motto, “are safe and can be trusted.” They sell powdered green tea (macha), other varieties of regular teas, coffee and also other macha products that are used in many foods and implements that are connected to  the tea ceremony. Morihan has always tried to maintain their company tradition of producing high-quality tea ever since it was established in 1836. And it always consider show its tea is suited to Japanese tea culture and life style. Morihan also has a tea shop in Uji that serves teas and sweets and tea souvenirs.

We talked with Yoko Morishita who is has worked at the company for many years. She taught us about Morihan’s history, how tea is produced, how it is sorted, and how teas taste differently from each other. She is a knowledgeable person and was exceedingly kind to us. She also works as a Chado (tea ceremony) instructor, teaching students how to make and serve green tea, and how to conduct a tea ceremony in a small teahouse or anywhere. We asked Ms Morishita a few questions.

 

Tell us about Morihan…

 

“By adhering to a high standard that is from our tea cultural inheritance and a very long history, Morihan reflects that spirit, and has been developing a wide range of products that utilize powdered green tea in new ways. They make green tea tea bags, and sweets that contain green tea like dorayaki (sweet-bean paste between cakes—popular TV anime character Doraemon’s favorite food), daifuku (mochi with bean paste), ice cream and cake. Our products all have high quality and have great reputations both domestically and internationally.”

 

Morihan tea shop. The character on the shop curtain is "cha" and means tea.

 

 

What does the company’s name, Morihan, name mean and what is its history?

“The name comes from Morishita Hannzaemon, who was the first president of our tea company. The first part of the last name, MORI (森), is combined with the first part of the first name, HAN(). This tea company was established in Tenpo era (1830-1844). At that time, they grew tea in nearby fields and sold tea leaves in Uji. Right now Morihan has been merged with the Hankyu department group and another tea company named Matsumoto.”

 

What is rewarding about your work.

 

“These days, the tea world has been split in many parts. Some companies produce high-grade tea for use in expensive tea pots. Others produce cheap teas, instant teas, and  teas that are sold in plastic bottles. Still others focus on tea products that are used in baking, and other kinds of foodstuffs. Now great effort is being put into this aspect of the tea business. But I like being an instructor of  tea. To make macha familiar to a lot of people with my work is very worthwhile.”

 

Does Morihan export to the foreign countries?

 

“They export almost all of their macha powder to foreign countries these days. They export to the USA, Taiwan, Hong Kong and also some countries in Europe too. The USA uses it in cafes; in Taiwan and Hong Kong they sell it in big supermarkets. Many countries in Europe want to drink green tea or eat Japanese foods because they think it is healthy. These foreign companies contact a Japanese food buyer to obtain our green tea powder.”

 

Thank you for talking with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAP SHOWING MORIHAN’S TEA SHOP

京都府宇治市小倉町久保78番地

 

Buy products from MORIHAN

Ayataka – Kyoto Based Tea Company

by Akihiko Sato, Masayoshi Seki, Ayaho Takaoka

The Ayataka Tea Company

Ayataka is a Japanese tea company affiliated with the Coca-cola corporation. Ayataka was first came on the market in 2007, when Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten – a traditional Kyoto-based tea company – and Coca-cola came together in collaboration. Ayataka’s aim is to produce bottled tea just like it came straight from the teapot, with sediment and all.

The name ‘ayataka’ has a special meaning. ‘Aya’ means to incorporate tea leaf quality. ‘Taka’ refers to the symbol of noble presence and precious tea. Ayataka uses gougumi, a process of mixing together high quality green tea leaves based on the skill and technology of Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten. Through the gougumi process, Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten and Coca-cola are able to ensure the quality of the tea leaves to be used and the excellent flavor of tea to be produced.

Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten

Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten has been in business for more than 450 years. It sold its tea mostly in department stores back in the old days. However, its teas were very expensive. For this reason, Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten never became well known throughout Japan.

We paid a visit to the Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten in Kyoto recently. There we heard a talk about Ayataka and Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten from the person in charge of information. They said, “We want everyone to enjoy the real taste of quality green tea. Giving our customers delicious tea is the most important thing we do.”

To make a delicious tea, paying attention to both appearance and fragrance is especially important. In order to do so, the company members use all their senses when making the tea to provide customers with the best, most authentic taste. This, they said, is the most important thing.

Gomotsu Chashi

What is Gomotsu Chashi? They are simply tea masters who have been around since the medieval period. They worked for the family of the shogun, worked with tea from the Uji region of south Kyoto, and created a very high quality tea. They created many rules for drinking green tea. At the peak of their activity, the Gomotsu Chashi consisted of about 30 families, but since then there have been 13 or 14 families on the decline. The Kanbayashi family was the strongest of these families. They worked for the shogun and the Emperor in Kyoto. The Kanbayashi family was, in fact, put in charge of all Gomotsu Chashi by the bakuhu, or Japanese Government in the Edo period.

Ayataka – Consistently Cloudy

The best thing about Ayataka tea is the way it is made with powdered green tea from one of the most famous tea regions in Japan: Uji. Uji is in the south part of Kyoto City. Ayataka is made from a high quality type of green tea grown in Uji, called tencha. The tencha leaves are first selected based on their shape, color, and fragrance. Then they are ground into a fine powder using a stone mill. After that, it is time to brew the tea. First the temperature and volume of the water is prepared. Then as the tea is brewing, a sediment specialist steps in the measure the cloudiness of the tea. This is a very important step, for Ayataka is famous for its cloudiness. Achieving the right level of cloudiness may sound easy, but it isn’t. In the early days, getting the cloudiness level just right was a big challenge. But after much trial and error, Ayataka has perfected its cloudiness level. The suspended sediment from powdered green tea is Ayataka’ most charming characteristic.

How to Drink Ayataka Green Tea

Now that you know a little about powdered green tea, do you know how to drink it in the traditional way? Well, the problem is, Ayataka comes in a plastic bottle. Traditionally there was no plastic! Nevertheless, its creators have ensured that the tea inside is cloudy and delicious, just like the real thing.

The first thing to do is pour the tea into a proper Japanese teacup. Then, straighten your back and use your right hand to pick up the teacup. Next place the cup in your upturned left hand while keeping your right hand on the outer side of the teacup, facing away from you. Then, using your right hand, make two turns in a clockwise direction. Now you are ready to drink it. While drinking, make a slurping noise as you inhale air while drinking the tea. Then put down the teacup and bow to the host (or the person who poured your tea). If you can learn to drink tea in this way, then you have mastered the art of drinking Japanese tea.

Interview with Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten

On our visit to Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten, we asked our guide the following four questions:

1. What is the most important point in the manufacture of Ayataka green tea product?
We are very careful in the way we mix the ingredients and in our manufacturing methods.

2. In recent years, tea gardens have been on the decline in the Uji region. What is your company doing about this?
It is true that the quantity of tea produced in Uji is on the decline. For this reason, we are both stocking up on tea leaves and buying from other areas in Japan, not just tea from Uji.

3. People prefer to be healthier all around the world. Do you have any solution?
No. We just mixed three types of tea together: macha, sencha and tencha. We think it is delicious.

4. In the future, what do you think the demand for green tea products will be?
We will probably only sell our tea domestically, not abroad.

Access

Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten – This is the head office of the Kanbayashi Shunsho company. There we can watch an informative video about Kanbayashi and walk around the factory. We can also learn how to make Japanese green tea by machine. It is well worth a visit.

OPEN 10:00 – 14:00
1st 10:00-
2nd 12:00-
3rd 14:00-

Uji Kanbayashi Kinenkan – This is a memorial museum about tea from the Uji region and the Kanbayashi family. There are many vases and Japanese tea cups on display.

OPEN – 10:00 – 16:00
CLOSED – FRIDAY

Iyemon – a Kyoto-style Tea Company

by Akihiko Sato, Ayaho Takaoka, Masayoshi Seki

Do you know this product? It is called Iyemon. It is a Japanese green tea product made by a company called Fukujuen: a long-established store of Japanese green tea in Kyoto. Fukujuen was founded in 1790.  The name of the founder was Iyemon Fukui, thus the name of the brand. In 2004, the Iyemon brand was purchased by the Suntory corporation, which has brought the Iyemon teas to a larger, more international market.

To make the tea, Fukujuen uses the best water in Japan, which comes from the Yamazaki area of southern Kyoto. They also employ a special manufacturing method of using a traditional stone mill.

The tea is especially bitter and fragrant. It also has the quality of wabisabi, which is the frugal and traditional Japanese aesthetic. For example, the shape of the plastic bottle is like bamboo. You can find wabisabi in many aspects of Japanese culture, especially in Kyoto, which is the center of culture in Japan. Kyoto has a lot of examples of wabisabi aesthetic, such as in its temples, shrines, and art.

Types of Iyemon Tea

Iyemon – this is the standard type of Iyemon green tea. It has two types of temperatures: cool and hot. It’s made with a stone mill and contains maccha (powdered green tea).
Iyemon zeitaku reicha – this tea is also made using maccha, but it is only made using cold water. This method gives it a better taste. Some of the maccha settles at the bottom of the bottle, so if you shake the bottle, you can enjoy tasting another kind of flavor.
Iyemon koime – This tea is stronger than the normal type. The tea leaves used to make it are of better quality than the ones used to make the normal type. Therefore, it has a better taste and fragrance.
Iyemon Genmai chaGenmai is a mix of green tea and roasted brown rice. It actually includes brown rice, so it tastes and smells a little bit like rice. It goes well with Japanese meals and tends to be even healthier.
Iyemon Houji cha – Houji cha is a roasted green tea, made with a mixture of two different types of tea leaves. It has a deep flavor and smell. It tastes better to drink it hot. This tea is also very healthy, for it is anti-aging and prevents high blood pressure. It contains a bit of caffeine, which will perk you up in the mid afternoon.
Iyemon Japan Espresso – This is a unique and strong beverage that is made with maccha. It is like espresso made with green tea rather than with coffee. And it’s not too sweet and not too bitter, so it is a real luxury. If you want something Japanese to wake you up, this is the drink for you.

Method of Making Japanese Green Tea

Japanese green tea harvest takes place between the beginning of May to June every year. Farmers block off the direct sunlight with a cover and then pick the soft buds of tea by hands. Then the farmers take them to the factory in order to steam and dry the leaves. This process is called tencha aracha. The veins of leaves are dried one more time because they retain a lot of water. These leaves are placed on the tea dryer to keep their quality and fragrance. The tea leaves are then sealed for safekeeping until they are ready to be ground by the stone mill. The process of grinding with a stone mill turns the  tencha tea leaves into maccha, the finely powdered form.

Situation of Iyemon Today

Today, Iyemon tea is sold in Japan by department stores, grocery stores, and more. In department stores, however, you can only buy tea bags (just the leaves), not the bottles of pre-made tea. But Fukujuen was worried about the decline of their brand’s image, so they made a new brand called Uji no Tsuyu. This brand has actually become more popular than the Iyemon brand abroad. And ever since Fukujuen began to cooperate with beverage giant Suntory, this also hurt their brand image of being a Kyoto-based tea company. However, the move led to a large increase in total sales. Moreover, in the Kinki region of Japan (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, etc.) Fukujuen has always been well known. But now, thanks to marketing and mass distribution, it is starting to become known around the country, being sold in supermarkets everywhere.

Iyemon Abroad

Exporting tea is a tricky business. For example, it is difficult to sell Iyemon tea in other Asian countries, who already have their own tea cultures. Iyemon teas simply do not fit in well. Therefore, sales are low. For example, in China the food is very oily, so Chinese people prefer to drink oolong tea, which helps to break down oil in the stomach. And in Mongolia, people drink butter tea made with butter and rock salt. It makes their bodies warm up on the inside because Mongolia has a very cold climate. As you can see, tea culture is often related to people’s way of life, so it isn’t easy to export one tea to another place in Asia.

In Europe, it is easier to export Iyemon teas, but Europeans often put sugar into their tea, so actually many of them do not like Japanese tea. And in North America, not only plastic bottles, but also glass bottles have been selling there for 2 years now. The trend is healthy food now, so North Americans prefer non-sugar tea to soda. Today in America, non-sugar tea is very popular.

Around the world, we all want to be healthy. Black tea has more catechin than Japanese tea, which lowers blood pressure, blood sugar level, and prevents cancer. However, black tea doesn’t have so many vitamins. Indeed, Japanese tea not only has catechin, but also many vitamins. So it is ideal for health.

Iyemon’s Store

There are two places you can go that are related to Iyemon teas:

Fukujuen Kyoto Honten – It is the head office of Fukujuen. It has a restaurant and it also sells Iyemon teas.
Hours: 10:00~21:30
Tel: 075-221-2920

Uji Kobo – This is an interesting place where you can actually experience the tea making process. You can crumple tea leaves by your hands and make maccha by grinding with the stone mill.
Hours: 10:00~17:00
Tel: 0774-20-1100

Amazing tea!

by Fumiaki Kai and Akiko Kagawa

Green tea is the most surprising tea in the world. Although, green tea, black tea and oolong tea are basically produced from the same leaves, green tea can boast a number of beneficial effects. It’s also used in a variety of different foods and products such as sweets, snacks, perfume, bedclothes and so on. Uji in the south of Kyoto, is one of the most famous places for green tea in Japan. People say that Uji’s green tea is No.1. Have you ever tasted this attractive tea? We would like to talk about it here.

History

The main tea that is drunk all over Japan now, is green tea. However, it is fast becoming famous in other countries, too. It is said that green tea came from China in the 9th century, and at that time the color of the tea was brown like oolong tea. Due to it’s lofty status, only professional tea teachers in Uji were permitted to grow green tea at this time.

Effects and Benefits

You can receive a lot of health benefits if you drink green tea, and catechin is the most effective constituent in it. All teas contain this constituent, but green tea has more than its fair share of this high quality ingredient. Catechin is an antibacterial property and prevents oxidation. It is said that this can help protect against diseases like cancer, as well as slow the effects of ageing and adult’s disease. Polyphenol is a kind of catechin, and green tea contains 100 times the amount found in wine, and 50 times that found in cocoa. This makes it very valuable indeed as a health supplement.

As you know, vitamin C is very important for us, and green tea has more than any other tea. Vitamin C is known to be good for preventing freckles, and rough skin caused by a lack of good vitamin C intake. It also works on neutralizing alcohol which means it’s very good for hangovers!

Did you also know that tea can reduce unpleasant odors. If you have a dry tea bag, you can try putting it in your bed or your shoes and wherever else you may want to remove bad odors. Moreover, there is another wonderful effect which helps prevent dental problems. Green tea contains fluorine that helps make teeth strong, and if you eat snacks with your tea, you can avoid dental worries without thinking about it.

Green Tea Goods

There are many products which make wonderful use of green tea as an ingredient.

  • lotion— green tea contains a lot of catechin, ferment extract and vitamin C. These elements help tighten the skin and give it a healthy glow.
  • soap — this soap is made with a natural dryness and because of this it does not melt easily or produce a lot of foam. It offers excellent moisture retention properties and the long production process gives it real quality.

Green Tea Food Products in Kyoto

As you know, good food is a surefire way to make us happy! There are many kinds of food products that use Uji tea such as rice porridge and buckwheat noodles. So you can enjoy Uji tea at lunch time, too. There is a wide variety of green tea foods available in Kyoto, but some of them contain just a little green tea, or may use only green tea as a colorant. At one shop, Tsujiri, you will not be disappointed, however. Uji tea foods may be a little bitter for some people, but this is real Kyoto style. Whenever you come to Kyoto we suggest going to the famous Uji tea café called “Tsujiri”. This café mainly offers green tea in the form of desserts. They use very high-class Uji tea here and keep their customers happy with many kinds of Japanese style original desserts. The desserts they present are all prepared with the freshest ingredients to maintain the highest standard.

There are three stores in Kyoto:

1. Isetan JR Kyoto Station, 4th Floor.
Tel: 075-352-6622
Business hours 10:00~20:00

2. Nenenomichi Koudaiji Higashiyamaku, Kyoto City
Tel: 075-541-1228
Business hours 11:00~18:00

3. 573-3 Minamigawa Gionnmachi Higashiyamaku, Kyoto City
Tel: 075-561-2257
Business hours 10:00~22:00 (Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays 10:00~21:00)

I especially recommend the third one because it is the head office. You will probably have to queue up to eat green tea sweets here, but if queuing up is not for you, then I suggest you go there right on opening time. Alternatively, you can buy ice cream or green tea goods as a take-out without having to go to the bother of standing in line.