Byodoin is a beautiful Buddhist temple that sits on a small lake of water. The grounds of the temple are simple and serene, and surrounded by wisteria trellises. Because we visited in winter, the trellises and trees look bare, and I can imagine how scenic the compound would look in April-May when wisteria is in full bloom, where hanging bunches of purple blossoms appear everywhere. We spent an hour exploring the grounds, admiring the temple at different angles. At the back of the temple is a modern building I thought about paying a small fee to enter the temple premises but decided that I was happy to just walk around it.
I have always wanted to visit Japan during wisteria season but haven’t found the opportunity to do so. Got to put this down as an item in my bucket list.
On our way back to the train station, we spent some time browsing in the shops outside the temple along the street known as Byodoin Omotesando. There is one thing that Uji is very famous for – green tea. Besides matcha, sencha and hojicha, there are many shops selling green tea food – matcha soba, matcha ice cream, matcha curry, matcha gyoza, etc. Argh, I can’t imagine eating matcha curry – it sounds weird.
I am not fond of matcha but I love sencha, so I bought two packs of sencha teabags – these teabags were soooo good, I can no longer drink the ones from our local supermarkets.
I also tucked into a soft-serve from Nakamura Tokichi (a famous tea shop in Uji) despite feeling cold. I have always thought that ice cream tasted best in cold weather.
We liked Uji and we will be back again! I think Uji will be a place that we will stop by Byodoin (which charges an entrance fee of 600 yen) and Starbucks Uji whenever we are in Kyoto. Also, I need to restock supplies of green teabags.
This InsideKyoto article has a good write-up of Byodoin Temple as well as directions on how to get there from Kyoto.