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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Uji City Walking Routes

Uji City is located in the southern part of Kyoto Prefecture and is well know for its rich cultural history and heritage. The city is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites (Ujigami Shrine and Byodo-in Temple) and is blessed with the rich natural surroundings of the Uji River.

Uji: Favored Spot of the Fujiwara.

Uji is also the setting for the 10 last chapters of the Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji), one of Japan's earliest novels, written by Murasaki-shikibu in the Heian Period (794-1185). There are two especially fine walking routes in the city that offer the visitor a chance to experience Uji's history and charm.

Ajirogi-no-michi

This path runs along the south side of the Uji River. The name of the path comes from the name of an old method for catching fish that was used in this area. The path passes right by the large pond that reflects the exotic image of Byodo-in Temple (which you can see through gaps in the hedge), the Uji Tourist Information Center, and a traditional Japanese style tea room run by the city called Taiho-an. All along the path the visitor will find wonderful places to relax and take in the lush and almost timeless scene around them. By crossing a bridge and then another on the other side of a small island one can cross the river and start walking along the Sawarabi-no-michi.

Sawarabi-no-michi

The name of this path already existed when the Genji Monogatari was written long, long ago. Sawarabi are the edible shoots of the bracken fern (fiddleheads in English). The flagstone path leads along the river to the base of the hills that border the northern edge of the river. Along the path, the visitor will find Ujigami Shrine (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Tale of Genji Museum. The air is very fresh here, and all around are large trees, bushes and flowers. Near Ujigami Shrine there is a monument to the Genji Monogatari, where visitors often take pictures.

Agata Festival

The Agata Festival is the most important annual festival held at Agata Shrine (Tel: 0774 21 3014). The festival begins late in the evening of June 5th and lasts through to the next morning. The festival is sometimes called the "mysterious festival of darkness."

At the beginning of the festival a portable shrine (mikoshi) is carried out of the shrine grounds and around town. Along with the mikoshi, the participants in the parade carry a bonten, which is a long piece of wood with many oblong pieces of white paper attached to it to form a large ball. In the darkness the bonten is waved about in a ritual called bonten-mawashi. It is said that if one catches a piece of paper that falls from the bonten it acts as a powerful charm to drive away evil. In the daytime, before the night time festivities begin, many shops line the approach to the shrine, adding a colorful, lively aspect to this unusual festival.

Mimurotoji Temple, Uji, Kyoto.

Mimuroto Temple (early June-early July): In the wide garden of this old temple there are 30 different kinds of hydrangea. At night, 6/10-25, the garden is lit up (7pm-9pm). Daytime entry 300 yen (night time 500 yen). Tel: (0774) 21 2067. To get to the temple, take the Keihan Line (change at Chushojima) or JR Nara Line to Uji.

Access: To get to Uji take the JR Nara Line from Kyoto Station to Uji Station (about 15 minutes). Or take the Keihan Honsen Line from Sanjo Station to Chushojima Station, then take Keihan Uji Line to Uji Station. (about 30 minutes). After exiting from the station turn left and walk to the river. The Ajirogi-no-michi follows the right side of the river and the Sawarabi-no-michi the left side.

Uji Tourist Information Center: Tel: 0774 23 3334.

Courtesy of Your Japan Private Tours (YJPT). Ian Ropke, founder and owner of YJPT (since 1992), is a Japan destination expert for travel and tourism. He specializes in private travel (customized day trips with guides / private guided tours) and digital guidance solutions (about 25% of our business and growing!). Ian and his team offer personalized quality private travel services all over Japan. To learn more, visit www.kyoto-tokyo-private-tours.com or call us on +1-415-230-0579.

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