Around Kyoto: Uji, Nara [Trip Day 1] 宇治・奈良

  Trip itinerary and map

Uji (宇治)

Kyoto is easily accessible from Tokyo, via the frequent Tokaido Shinkansen (we’re talking about departure every 10 minutes!) that covers about 500 km in about 2.5 hours.

To have a full day travelling, we took the train just before 6:30 am and arrived at Kyoto Station before 9. But we skipped that for now, and made a change to our first destination Uji (宇治).

Uji is a small town most commonly associated with high quality green tea – all Japanese know about Uji Matcha (宇治抹茶). (though strictly speaking, Green Tea 緑茶 and Matcha 抹茶 have some differences) Apart from the tea itself, the great attraction for a dessert buff like me is the various tea sweets. How much better would their green tea ice cream be? And it doesn’t end with sweets. You can find a whole variety of products that include tea in one form or another. Try tea curry.

Another point of interest is Byodo-In (平等院), a temple that can be found in all Japanese’s lives as it is the building engraved on the 100 yen coin. It’s also recently designated as a World Heritage Site. Getting to Uji from Kyoto only takes between 15 to 30 minutes (depending on riding a rapid or local train), so it’s definitely worth to drop by as a quick side trip from Kyoto.

Nara (奈良)

Nara had also been Japan’s capital in ancient time, so it has its shares of historical sites, though not as many as Kyoto. But one of its main attractions is definitely the free roaming deers near the large Nara Park – the only other place in Japan apart from Miyajima (宮島) in Hiroshima.

Uji is actually on the Nara Line train that runs between Kyoto and Nara. So for us it was natural to continue on to Nara which is between 30 to 40 minutes away.