On the Tea Road, full day

Discover the towns built on tea: Wazuka and Uji


The opinion of Japan Experience

Discover the fascinating world of tea, the mythical drink of Japan, Asia and the world. An original excursion far off the beaten track for tourists, making contact with an authentic and ancestral locality.

Your Travel Angel's plus

First the city, on foot or on a bicycle. Then the surrounding mountains, still on foot and on a bus for a while. When exploration is in your blood, the desire to go and see what is around the next corner holds sway: Jean-François knows this feeling and proposes to take you to see what is « around the corner » and to travel a few kilometres together on Japan's minor roads.

Description

We leave Kyoto on a minibus driven by the guide and head east towards the great Lake Biwa. After a glimpse of modern day Japan's residential and commercial areas, we reach the Setagawa, the river into which the waters of Lake Biwa flow.

The first minka, Japanese countryside buildings, appear and we take the small local road which runs along the right-hand bank of the waterway.

The signs of civilisation disappear little by little and the very singular exuberance of Japanese vegetation underlines the contrast. The other Japan, the wild and primitive one of woods and rivers is there for us to look at.

Here as well, however, man has managed to tame this profusion of life and thus create many magnificent rural panoramas. The deciduous and pine forests open up in places to make room for the first tea trees which are arranged in long, regular tunnels. Pretty villages with grey-tiled roofs and the now omnipresent tea fields border the small, rural road.

We arrive at Wazuka, one of the hot spots for Japanese green tea plantations. Wandering on foot through these small valleys, with their Tuscan warmth and their similarity to never-ending « French gardens » is a unique and relaxing experience. It is very often possible to spot groups of monkeys frolicking in these labyrinths of greenery. If you like to take pictures, get your camera out!

We leave these landscapes in late morning and, having first gone over a small but pretty steep hill, we head north towards Ujitawara where a very pleasant couple awaits us in their little factory.

This is where we will of course be tasting several types of tea which come from the fields around us, trying to gain insight into the subtleties of this drink. But even more importantly, we will be able to experience the gentle warmth of Japan hospitality and the pleasure of spending time with people who are passionate.

We get back on the road and then drive across the great Amagase Dam which holds back the waters of the Setagawa, which has become the Ujigawa and forms a small lake.

We leave the vehicle behind for a while to walk among the prosperous and venerable houses of the town built on tea until we reach the entrance of the Byodo-In.

This temple is splendid! This is the one whose picture can be found on a 10-yen coin and which is one of a select group of Unesco world heritage sites. Sadly, it is often reluctantly overlooked in favour of the other jewels in Kyoto's crown.

The opportunity was too good to miss! We will not deprive ourselves of the chance to admire it as well as its illustrious neighbour, the Shinto shrine Ujigami, which also classed as a world heritage site and which we will find on the other side of the river, nestling at the foot of the mountain. Then at the end of the day, we will return to Kyoto.

After this little jaunt to the valleys which saw the birth of Japanese tea, we would be willing to bet that those few centilitres bright green liquid in your cup will take on a new flavour for you… 

The price displayed is the price per person including the visit, meals and transport.

Find an account of a day "on the tea road" at le blog de Mélanie et Charles.

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urrently only available in French 

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