People have preferences when it comes to their favorite drinks. Some are coffee persons. Some like beer. But for me, I prefer having tea. It is always nice to have a warm cup of tea especially in the mornings. But drinking tea is not just limited in the mornings. It is actually best to drink tea for its health benefits.
Everyone in Japan drinks tea. It is the most common beverage. Tea is considered to be an integral part of Japanese culture. And because of it, the art of tea ceremony was brought forth. There are many types of tea that are available in Japan. Everyday, tea and tea products are being consumed. The most common type (and one of my favorites) is green tea. If you order tea (ocha) in a restaurant without indicating any specific type, you will most likely be given green tea. Green tea is the central component of the Japanese tea ceremony.
The places that are featured in this article are the top three places where tea is produced in Japan. These places are almost synonymous for the cultivation of tea and producing tea products. If you are a tea lover and headed to Japan, be sure not to miss out these great places.
Tea is considered to be Shizuoka Prefecture’s top product. It is known to be Japan’s Riviera because of its location. It is situated along the Pacific coast in the south of the Chubu Region. You will not only enjoy drinking tea in Shizuoka Prefecture. You will also be able to see the beautiful sights in it.
The iconic and beautiful Mount Fuji is located in Shizuoka. It is Japan’s highest mountain. With its perfect shape, it has been a symbol of worship and a subject for art and literature. You can sit down in one of the many restaurants overlooking the snow-capped mountain while enjoying a cup of tea. I recommend viewing Fuji-san in the winter because you will have better visibility.
The Izu Peninsula is also part of Shizuoka. You can enjoy your tea in this resort area. Take a dip in the hot springs or see the beautiful coastlines and beaches while relaxing. If you go here in the off season, you will experience a relaxing stay while sipping your tea.
You can also head to Lake Hamanako for scenic views and its outstanding hotels and attractions. The famous Kanzanji Onsen is located in Lake Hamanako. You can go to Pal Pal Amusement Park and even ride its large Ferris wheel. You can also take a ride in the Kanzanji Ropeway. It traverses over the inlet between Pal Pal Amusement Park and the summit of Okusayama Mountain. The mountain has an observation deck you can access for free to watch the sights. If music boxes are your thing, you can visit the music box museum located at the mountain’s summit for a fee.
Kagoshima Prefecture is also one of the top places that cultivate tea. It consists of the southernmost part of Kyushu and the northern half of the Nansei Shoto (the group of islands stretching from Kyushu to Taiwan). For Japanese history buffs, Kagoshima was formerly known as Satsuma. (I remember Saigo-san from the Satsuma clan because I watched the Japanese historical drama Atsuhime. Satsuma played an important role in the Meiji Restoration.)
While enjoying tea in Kagoshima, you can do so in Yakushima. It is a subtropical island just off the southern coast of Kyushu. You will see some of Japan’s oldest living trees in Yakushima’s extensive cedar forest. Feel the energy coming from nature while hiking along trees that are more than thousands of years old (known as yakusugi). Some areas of Yakushima are considered to be Natural World Heritage Sites. It rains a lot in Yakushima, especially in the dense forest. I do recommend bringing a raincoat if you would like to hike there. You can also visit Shiratani Unsuikyo in Yakushima if you are up for a hike. There is a part of the forest that served as the inspiration of Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke) by Ghibli Studios.
Go to Kirishima for their famous onsens (hot springs) towns and breathtaking volcanic landscapes. You will be surrounded by mountains and volcanic lakes. You can also pay a visit in the Kirishima Shrine dedicated to Ninigi no Mikoto (the grandson of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu).
Uji is located in Kyoto. It is not just rich in history. Uji is synonymous to green tea. During the Kamakura Period (1192-1333) in Japan, the green tea leaves imported from China was cultivated in Uji. It was Eisai, a Zen priest who introduced Zen Buddhism from China to Japan, who introduced the benefits of green tea using a book to several priests in Uji. From there, it has become popular among the nobility and had spread out to the rest of the people. Uji is the best place to enjoy a nice, warm cup of tea. It is guaranteed to be superior in quality.
You can go to any restaurant or shop in Uji to sample their tea products. Not just tea, you will be able to experience the Uji tea culture. How about matcha (green tea) flavored soba noodles? Do you want to try matcha dango and other green tea sweets? I strongly recommend my favorite matcha ice cream.
Head out to Omotesando to buy tea for you to take home. There are also many tea products and souvenirs that you can buy there for your family and friends. You can also visit the historic Byodoin Temple while you are in Omotesando. It is the best example of Buddhist Pure Land architecture. You can walk in the garden and have a relaxing time before or after you start buying souvenirs lined outside the temple. From Byodoin Temple, you can take a short walk to Taihoan. This is the tea house to go if you want to participate in an authentic Japanese tea ceremony for a fee. The price is reasonable so you can try it if you like. Enjoy some matcha while learning about the correct tea ceremony etiquette.
Do you want to work on something related to tea? You can go to Fukujuen Ujicha Kobo. This workshop offers tea related activities. You can join in match grinding classes and learn how to prepare your own tea. You don’t need to book a reservation in advance if you want to engage in the activities of the workshop. You can also enjoy tea and a good meal at the restaurant located in the building.
These are the top three places to drink tea in Japan. I strongly recommend visiting these places to all the tea lovers out there. You not only get to drink tea, you will also be having fun! Tea is not just a beverage; it is also a way of life.