Ujigami Shrine (宇治上神社) and the Uji Shrine

The Ujigami Shrine is believed to be constructed as early as 1060 during the Heian period and is the other World Heritage site. It is the guardian shrine to Byodoin Temple. This Shinto shrine has very simple architecture. The Honden or the main hall is built in the nagare-zukuri architectural style, which is a curved assymetrical roof, extending more on the side of the main entrance than on the opposite side. This design is such to provide shelter to the worshippers.

Entrance to Ujigami Shrine
Entrance to Ujigami Shrine

About 100m south of Ujigami shrine is the Uji shrine, also in the simple nagare-zukuri architectural style.

Entrance to Uji Shrine
Entrance to Uji Shrine

Useful information:

Opening hours: 09:00 to 16:30

Open all year round

Admission is Free

Please give yourself anything between 15 to 30 minutes. It is really quiet and peaceful here. On my visit, I observed a painter sketching the beautiful view from the top of the stairs looking ahead. It was rather pretty.

Painter sketching the spring colours of the leaves
Painter sketching the spring colours of the leaves

Getting here:

Location of Ujigami Shrine and Uji Shrine_1
Location of Ujigami Shrine and Uji Shrine

Ujigami Shrine is on the north of Uji River, close to the Tale of Genji Museum

JR Line

Takes 15 minutes to walk from JR Uji Station

Keihan Line

Takes 10 minutes to walk from Keihan Uji Line

By foot

It is about 10 to 15 minutes (depends how distracted you get from the enchanting scenery around you) from Byodoin Temple, across the river via a small island connected by bridges.

 

Kyoto, Uji (宇治) – A Day Trip

Uji is a historical city in the green valley of South Kyoto. It is popular for its two World Heritage sites, the Byodoin Temple and the Ujigami shrine. In addition, Uji is famous for the superior quality of Green Tea and the Tale of Genji, the world’s first novel. Uji is easily accessible (see below: useful information), just a 20-minute train trip from Kyoto Station, either via the JR Line or the Keihan Line. I used the Keihan Line from Kyoto. As you exit the Keihan Uji Station, you will find easy signposting that directs you to the surrounding areas.

Uji-bashi Bridge and Uji River

Just south of Keihan Uji Station, you will also see the Uji-bashi Bridge, which goes across the Uji River. This wood-trimmed concrete and steel was first built in 646 but has been rebuilt numerous times since. Walk across it, and along the way, stop and look at the green hills, rushing waters and the red wooden bridges. This ancient town is well-preserved.

Please click on the links to read more: 2 minutes

My top picks of Uji are:

  1. Byōdōin Temple (平等院)

The Temple is one of the two World Heritage sites in Uji and its garden is regarded as a Pure Land Paradise.

2.  Uji Tea

Uji is famous for its green tea or its Match Green Tea but green tea was virtually unheard of in Japan when it first arrived from China in the 700s.

3. Omotesando Street (平等院表参道)

The Omotesando Street is about 300-meter stretch approach to Byodoin Temple.

4. Ujigami Shrine and the Uji Shrine (宇治上神社)

The Ujigami Shrine is believed to be constructed as early as 1060 during the Heian period and is the other World Heritage site.

5. Uji’s riverbank

The Riverbank attractions are within pleasant strolling distance.

5. Mampuku-ji Temple (萬福寺)

Mampukuji Temple was the head temple of Zen Obaku sect and was founded in 1661 by Ingen, a Chinese monk.

6. Hashidera Temple

Protector of the Uji Bridge

NB: I did not go to the Tale of Genji Museum, but you can find all the information you need on their official website here.

Mampuku-ji Temple (萬福寺)

Mampukuji Temple was the head temple of Zen Obaku sect and was founded in 1661 by Ingen, a Chinese monk. Ingen was the founder of Zen Buddhism and was responsible for importing the Zen Obaku sect, the most recent form of Zen Buddhism from China into Japan. The architecture is distinctively Chinese, incorporating contemporary designs of the Ming Dynasty. It is profoundly peaceful and quiet here.

The main entrance to Mampuku-ji Temple
The main entrance to Mampuku-ji Temple

The temple grounds are extensive, set out as a courtyard, connected by stone paved path. It has beautiful Zen gardens surrounded by raked pebbles. There were not many people here when I arrived and gave me an opportunity to get “lost” in the extensive space!

Stoned footpath lines the entrance to the Temple
Stoned footpath lines the entrance to the Temple
This is the entrance from the road_Mampuku-ji Temple
This is the entrance from the road to Mampuku-ji Temple
Picture of the extensive grounds of Mampuku-ji Temple
Picture of the extensive grounds of Mampuku-ji Temple

Mampuku-ji is popular for Shojin Ryori, a sophisticated Buddhist cuisine. It is the traditional dining style of Buddhist monks in Japan and became associated with Zen Buddhism in the 13th century. If you want to experience this traditional dining, you need to book in advance.

Useful information:

Opening times: 09:00 to 17:00

Last entry at 16:30

Admission: 500 Yen

NB: This grounds of this temple is huge, so getting here just before 16:40 will not really be worth your while. Half-an-hour is too short. You may need at least an hour minimum but anything more will be awesome!

Getting here:

JR Line

Mampukuji is about five minutes from Obaku Station on the JR Nara Line.

Keihan Railways

Take the Keihan Line from Kyoto, Gion-Shijo Station to Keihan Obaku Station. The one way trip takes about 20 minutes, costs around 310 Yen. It requires a transfer of trains at Chushojima Station. Trains run every 5 minutes between Keihan Obaku and Uji Stations, and its 150 yen). Mampukuji is 10 minutes walk from Keihan Obaku Station.

You can also take the local trains between Kyoto and Obaku but these trains stops frequently, at every station and takes about half-an hour.

On foot

Alternatively, you can walk to Mampukuji in 30-40 from the Uji Bridge.

Omotesando Street (平等院表参道)

The Omotesando Street is about 300-meter stretch approach to Byodoin Temple. It is lined with tea shops, eateries and souvenir shops where you can spend some time exploring this quaint street.

Shops along Omotesando Street, Uji
Shops along Omotesando Street, Uji

There are many tea related products which you can try such as “dango” dumplings, soba noodles or ice-cream.

Looks messy but it is Match on crushed ice, red bean sweet paste, dango dumpling, matcha tea and jasmine tea.
Looks messy but it is Matcha on crushed ice, red bean sweet paste, dango dumpling, matcha tea and jasmine tea.

I would recommend that you do this on your return walk back from Byodoin Temple so you can take a break for a snack or lunch before you are onward to the next stage of your journey.

 

Hashidera Temple – Ho-join

Hashidera, protector of Uji Bridge was built in 604 by Hata no Kawakatsu on the instructions of Prince Shotoku (574-622)

Hashidera Temple
Hashidera Temple
Temple grounds
Temple grounds

It is on the east bank of the Uji River, just 5 minutes walk from Ujigami Shrine.