Uji (Japan)

2017-04-24 14:05:40 , Source : The Government Website of Shaanxi Province

Uji is a city on the southern outskirts of the city of Kyoto, in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.

Founded on March 1, 1951, Uji is between the two ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto. The city sits on the Uji River, which has its source in Lake Biwa.

As of October 1, 2015, Uji has an estimated population of 184,726 and is the second largest city in Kyoto Prefecture. It has an area of 67.54 km², giving it a population density of 2,735 persons per km².

History and culture

In the 4th century the son of Emperor Ōjin established a palace in Uji.

Three battles of Uji-gawa took place here in 1180, 1184, and 1221.

Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358–1408) promoted cultivation of Uji tea in the area. Since then Uji has been an important production and distribution center of superior quality green tea. Tsuen tea has been served since 1160 and is still sold in the oldest tea shop in Japan and possibly the world—the Tsuen tea shop.

The final chapters of The Tale of Genji are set in Uji, attracting visiting literature buffs.

In the 15th century A.D., shimamono tea jars destined to be used in the Japanese tea ceremony were brought by the shogun from Luzon to Uji.

Uji was a political focal point from old times. They say the detached palace of Ujinowakiiratsuko, who killed himself to yield the throne upon the succession of the Emperor Ojin, was located near the current Ujigami-jinja shrine/Uji-jinja shrine. Uji played the more important role in history as a strategic place for land and water transportation to connect Nara, Kyoto, and Shiga after the Uji Bridge was built.

As the locale for personal villas of the Fujiwara clan who were at the height of their prosperity in the Heian Era, splendid imperial culture flourished in Uji. The Phoenix Hall of the Byodo-in, an embodiment of the paradise, still retains in its original shape as its symbol.

Uji is also the setting for many literary works such as the Manyoshuf and The Tale of the Heike. Uji is well known by the setting for the Ten Uji Chapters from the world-renowned Tale of Genji.

In the Kamakura Era Meikei at Toganoo Kozanji Temple introduced teas to Uji. Under the patronage of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, Uji became famous for growing teas, and Uji Tea has been valued as a high-end tea since the transfer of the capital to Edo up till now.

Sightseeing and events

Most visitors are attracted to Uji for its centuries-old historic sites, which include many Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Among the most famous are the Ujigami Shrine (built in 1060) and the Byōdō-in that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto." The Byōdō-in, with its Amida (Phoenix) Hall built in 1053, is featured on the reverse side of the 10 yen coin.

Other religious sites include the Mampuku-ji, the head temple of the Ōbaku Zen sect, built in Chinese Ming style in 1661 and the Zen temple Kōshō-ji, with its Kotozaka entrance (framed with dense thickets of cherry, kerria, azalea, and maple trees, each of which dramatically changes color with the seasons) constructed in 1648. Noteworthy is the Mimuroto-ji, which is famous for its purple hydrangeas. The city features numerous other small Shinto shrines. With a few exceptions, most of the important historical sites are in walking distance of one another and all are easily accessed by rail.

The last ten chapters of the Japanese classic novel The Tale of Genji take place in Uji, and so there is The Tale of Genji Museum.

Due to its striking natural setting, Uji boasts many natural attractions, including its scenic riverside, large parks, and a botanical garden. Slightly upriver from Uji Bridge, the Amagase Dam spans the river and day trippers can walk to its base in about an hour. The route, which begins directly across from Keihan Uji Station, is a wonderful walk along the river on a paved road and offers access to several grassy open spaces where people can rest and picnic.

The city hosts two major festivals each year. The Agata Festival, held on June 5, begins in the early morning and runs until late at night. It is famous throughout western Japan for activities that are rumored to take place when the lights are suddenly doused at midnight. Like many cities in Japan, Uji hosts an hours-long fireworks festival on August 10. Both events draw huge crowds and require that the town's main thoroughfare to be shut down.

There is cormorant fishing in summer during the evening, from mid-June to late September.

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