Uji Byodoin Temple
The ancient Byodoin Temple in Uji City stands beside the Uji-gawa River as a stunning example of Buddhist architecture, a representative sacred structure with a signature Japanese garden. The historical city of Uji between Kyoto and Nara is famed for its legacy of superior matcha, which it has been producing since the introduction of Buddhism in the early 12th century. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, forever engraved in commemoration on the Japanese 10 yen coin, the Phoenix Hall of Byodoin is not only shaped like a Phoenix but also features Phoenix statues on its roof, reflected in the lake before it. It is one of the few lasting structures from the Heian period, as Byodoin’s other buildings destroyed over centuries from natural disasters and fires, while the area’s Shinto Ujigami Shrine nearby is said to be the oldest shrine in Japan. In fields beyond the temple grounds, Uji produces high-quality powdered matcha, serving tea ceremonies in traditional tea houses and local matcha-flavored souvenirs at main street shop fronts. Uji’s restaurants specialize in soba noodles with green tea, matcha-flavored ice cream, and matcha wagashi sweets. High on tea culture, the history of Uji is preserved by the exceptional flavor of locally-made matcha.
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