Tea plantationTea plantation



Visiting ancient temples and tea culture in Kyoto (Part 2)


Visit Kyoto, the home of tea.A trip to Kyoto where you can experience the fragrant tea culture.

Kyoto is a well-known tea region. There are many famous tea merchants in Kyoto Prefecture, and you can enjoy tea and sweets made with tea at many locations. However, if you are an expert in Kyoto, why not take a short trip to experience Kyoto's tea culture? The deep greenery of the tea fields, the fragrant taste, and the many new discoveries you can make. Let's explore Kyoto, a tea producing area nurtured by rich nature.


Endless mountain ranges and tea plantations
Wazuka, the town of tea


I really want to see a tea plantation with my own eyes at least once. Many people probably think so. That dream will come true if you visit Wazuka Town. And in a way that far exceeds my imagination.


From Kyoto city, you can reach Wazuka town in about an hour by car. This town boasts an 1-year history since the land was cleared and tea was cultivated. As you drive through Wazuka town, you can't help but cheer as you see tea plantations everywhere. Like a child, I was captivated by the scenery I could see from the train window.I was fascinated by the sight of lush green tea plantations that stretched across the steep ridges of the mountains and even the slopes of the mountains beyond. Because you'll be surprised.



The tea tree is an evergreen tree. The tea plantations are colored with deep green color regardless of the season. From late April to July, the tea leaves are sometimes covered with sheets to protect them from direct sunlight, but you can still see the beautiful tea fields even if you visit in the summer, autumn, and winter.

Imperial Tomb of Prince Asaka Imperial Tomb of Prince Asaka

In the center of the small hill, also known as Taikoyama, is the Mausoleum of Imperial Prince Asaka. It is dedicated to Imperial Prince Asaka, who was the son of Emperor Shomu. It is surrounded by tea plantations. Please be careful not to enter the tea fields as you tour. It's a lively area with Wazuka Tea Cafe, a direct sales store for tea from producers in Wazuka Town, just across the street.

Wazuka Ishidera tea plantation Wazuka Ishidera tea plantation

The endless tea fields are a truly breathtaking sight. ``Ishidera Tea Plantation'' is a place that you can admire forever. It was also selected as the first scenic asset registered site in Kyoto Prefecture. In addition, it is close to the Mausoleum of Imperial Prince Asaka.It's fun to compare the tea plantations of Kamazuka and the steep mountains of Shirasu and Senbaru.


The man who changed the history of Japanese tea production
Visit the birthplace of Soen Nagatani


Tea was brought to Japan from China during the Nara period. For a long time, tea consumption was limited to high priests, aristocrats, and samurai. It wasn't until the Edo period that common people started drinking tea on a daily basis. It was also boiled using a simple method and was drunk as a dark red drink, which was not at all good in appearance or taste.


Soen Nagatani overturned that. If you visit his birthplace, you can see a device called a hoiro, which was invented by Soen. In 3, he devised the Aosei Sencha method (Uji method) in which tea leaves were hand-rolled and dried in a roasting furnace, making it possible to express a beautiful green color and refreshing taste. This was a major turning point for modern Japanese tea.

Nagatani Soen Birthplace Nagatani Soen Birthplace

Inside the restored house where he was born, tea making utensils and the remains of the roasting furnace from that time are preserved.

Inside Nagatani Soen's birthplace Inside Nagatani Soen's birthplace

Nagatani Soen Birthplace

Oaza Yuyatani Koza Sorahiro, Ujitawara-machi, Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto Prefecture
Visiting hours: 10:16 to XNUMX:XNUMX (Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays only)
Maintenance and management cooperation fee: 100 yen
*There is no parking lot, so please use the Soenkoyuan Yantan parking lot. About 14 minutes walk.

enjoy tea
Experiences you can experience at a farmhouse inn run by tea farmers


``Tea Farm Inn Enutoenu'' is run by the Kita family, a tea farmer that has continued for generations in Wazuka Town. It opened in 2017 after renovating an old private house. He is still an active tea farmer, running a guest house, and is said to be growing 24 types of tea plants. There's something nostalgic about old folk houses, like visiting a relative's house in the countryside.


The young proprietress, Noriko, is in charge of the meals. They use tea grown in their own garden for most of their dishes, such as steaming rape blossoms with tea and marinating them with kelp overnight, mixing tea leaves and dried persimmons with homemade namasu, and tempura with tencha and mitsuba leaves. All of the ingredients go perfectly with tea, and you can enjoy it with chopsticks.

Enu and Enu's cooking Enu and Enu's cooking

A number of pre-orders. The ingredients and tea match well and everything is delicious.

After the meal, we tried ``Cha Kabuki''. ``Cha Kabuki'' is a game that dates back to the Heian period and is also called ``Tocha.'' Listen to and memorize the scent of several types of tea leaves. The participants then drink the tea that has been brewed and compete to guess which tea is which. It's an elegant game where you try to guess which tea it is by observing its taste, aroma, and color (called light blue).


While brewing tea at ``Cha Kabuki'', I noticed that the temperature of the water that I usually brew myself was too high. The first dose should be around 70 degrees. The aroma and taste are completely different from the tea I usually drink. Brew the second batch at 90 degrees. The appearance of the tea is different from the first sip, but it's still delicious.


Excursions that you can take as a tea farmer are also attractive, such as tea picking experiences at your own tea plantation and walking tours of tea plantations. This is a farm guesthouse where you can learn about and experience tea while having fun.

tea kabuki tea kabuki

The type of tea is hidden, and tentative names such as ``Flower'', ``Bird'', and ``Moon'' are given.

Farm stay Farm stay

A well-maintained old house has been renovated into a guesthouse. Tea plantations are also nearby.

Young proprietress Noriko Young proprietress Noriko

The young proprietress, Noriko, is in charge of all the cooking.

Tea Farm Inn Enu to Enu
30 Nakasugaya, Wazuka-machi, Soraku-gun, Kyoto Prefecture
If you are unable to reach us by phone, please contact us by email.enutoenu@gmail.com
13,800 night with XNUMX meals XNUMX yen
9,900 night with breakfast XNUMX yen (all prices include tax)
*Excursions such as tea picking experience and tea kabuki are charged separately.
*You can also use lunch for 3,850 yen and dinner for 5,500 yen. Reservation required. (All tax included)

Refreshing and honest taste
Enjoy Uji tea at Horii Shichimeien


After leaving Wazuka Town, we headed to Uji, where many famous tea merchants gather, and visited Horii Shichimeien. This is a long-established store that still protects the Okunoyama tea garden, one of the seven tea gardens established by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga during the Muromachi period. It is said that there were seven tea plantations, but Okunoyama is the only one that still exists. The traditional cultivation method has remained unchanged since its founding.


Currently, many trees in tea plantations are cut into a round shape, and this is because they are harvested mechanically. At Okunoyama, tea trees grow straight upwards due to traditional hand-picking. Although the surrounding area has changed into a residential area, the Okunoyama tea garden has remained unchanged for more than 650 years.


Chotaro Horii, the 6th generation head of Horii Shichimeien, personally brewed ``Narino,'' a tencha tea grown at the ``Okunoyama'' tea farm. ``Narino'' is a single-origin tea that is not blended. When I drank it, I found that it had a rich taste in my mouth that I wouldn't have expected from the pale light blue color.The taste and aroma spreads, passes through your nose, and your entire body is enveloped in scent. The feeling of it falling smoothly down your throat is as gentle as the May wind.


"The characteristic of Uji tea is its straightforwardness. We value a smooth and well-balanced flavor," says Horii. Honest, good-natured, and dignified. I was fascinated by the refreshing scent of Uji tea.

Okunoyama tea garden Okunoyama tea garden

Okunoyama tea garden has been around since the Muromachi period. It is said that it is important for the soil in a tea garden to be soft and fluffy. Tencha ``Narino'' is grown in this tea garden.

Mr. Horii gave us a special look at how he inspects tea. Mr. Horii gave us a special look at how he inspects tea.

Mr. Horii gave us a special look at how he inspects tea. This is done in the morning in a place with plenty of natural light in order to see the color, shape, and light blue of the tea leaves.

tea inspection tea inspection

Place each tea leaf in a bowl, pour hot water, and check the color of the water.

Chotaro Horii Chotaro Horii

Mr. Horii pours hot water into a bowl containing tea leaves, scoops them up with a spoon, and checks the color, aroma, and taste. Mr. Horii inspects all of Horii Shichimeien's teas and decides on the taste. “That is the role and responsibility of the head of the family,” she says.


Horii Shichimeien
84 Uji Myoraku, Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture
(0774) 23-1118 (Main)
Business hours: 8:30-17:30
*Information about Okunoyama Tea Garden and tasting of Matcha “Narino”  1First name3,300You can experience it for yen. For details, please contact us by phone in advance.

Pursuing tea pairings unique to tea production areas
Ristorante Nakamoto



Ristorante Nakamoto, located near JR Kizugawa Station, is a popular Italian restaurant with many fans visiting from not only Kyoto but also from outside the Kinki area. I wanted to visit this restaurant because I heard that it has a great reputation for authentic tea pairings that can only be found in a tea area.


Many restaurants are offering tea pairings these days, but it is common for them to offer bottled teas blended by famous tea masters to go with their dishes. However, here, Chef Nakamoto himself researches everything from selecting tea leaves to blending and brewing the tea to suit the dish.

tea pairing tea pairing

The moment you hold your breath as you stare at the tea being poured into your wine glass.

tea pairing tea pairing

The ``Plate of Seasonal Vegetables,'' a salad that gives you a sense of the mellow earth, is made with about 30 types of vegetables grown in Kizu, along with a cold brew of tencha tea. Enjoy Kizu's terroir with salad and tea.

tea pairing tea pairing

Pair ``Onaga duck from Kagoshima'' with hojicha-based tea.

We offer a surprising variety of tea types, colors, and flavors, such as those with spices such as cardamom and vanilla beans, cranberries, and tropical fruits that pair well with food. Tea will be served.


``This is a tea producing area, so tea pairing was one of the things I wanted to try.I got to know people I can trust who work in tea, and I introduced them to them about the kind of tea they have and the kind of producers they have. I'm doing it through trial and error."


He conducts daily research using all kinds of tea leaves, including tencha, Awa bancha, kabusecha, matcha, hojicha, and Japanese black tea. Try combining spices and fruits, or changing the brewing time. Using free ideas, he creates ``tea that goes well with Nakamoto's cuisine.'' Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it fails. However, everything in this process is Chef Nakamoto's expression and crystallization.


At Ristorante Nakamoto, everything from aperitivo to dolce is served with surprise, and each plate and glass of tea is an experience that will have you cheering. This is definitely a restaurant you should go to right now.


Chef Akihiro Nakamoto. Chef Akihiro Nakamoto.

Chef Akihiro Nakamoto. After working in Florence's Enoteca Pinchiorri and in New York and Tokyo, he opened Ristorante Hisano Nakamoto in his hometown of Kizu, Kyoto in 2011. ``Tea is like a living thing.The freshness of tea changes depending on factors such as brewing time, temperature, and time before serving, so we are researching it every day.''



Ristorante Nakamoto
122-1 Minamigakigai, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture
 Lunch course 12,000 yen/Dinner course 20,350 yen (all tax and service charge excluded)
Both come with drink pairing


A trip to Kyoto, the tea producing region, is full of surprises, including the beauty of the tea plantations, the history and taste of tea, and the splendor of the cuisine. Why not take a short trip to explore Kyoto deeper than just sightseeing in Kyoto city? For tourist information and access information for the southern area of ​​Kyoto Prefecture, please visit the Kyoto Yamashiro Area Promotion Company (General Incorporated Association)Tea Kyoto DMO) Please check it out.

Photography by Noriko Kawase

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