Taihoan Tea House in Uji, Kyoto
Traditional tea ceremony, or sadō (茶道), is widely regarded as one of the hallmarks of tea culture in Japan. Located in the quaint city of Uji, Taihōan Tea House is the place for tea lovers to immerse themselves in the tranquil world of tea brewing and enjoy an authentic cup of Uji tea – Japanese green tea from plants cultivated in the area.
Traditional tea ceremony at a tranquil tea house
Image credit: @ochanokyotodmo
A 20-minute train ride from the ancient city of Kyoto will bring you to Uji, a small city renowned for its excellent tea. Make your way along the Uji river and you’ll find the modest tea house Taihōan (対鳳庵), which literally translates as “tea house facing the phoenix”. It’s aptly named, as it’s just located across the Phoenix Hall (鳳凰堂) of the famed Byōdō-in, a Buddist temple and UNESCO world heritage site.
Image credit: @lucky_moon_cn
Built for the purpose of promoting Uji tea and introducing the art of sadō to visitors, Taihōan Tea House is more than just a rest area for visitors to drink and go. Tea is prepared through a ceremonial practice of sadō in a traditional tearoom and before one’s eyes, so visitors can appreciate the intricacies of this centuries-old art.
Image adapted from: @quealeus
From start to finish, the ceremony will last around 20 minutes. You’d be given a a cup of hot tea, as well as an accompanying traditional Japanese confectionery (和菓子; wagashi) to help balance the bitterness of the tea. The host will also guide you on the correct order to enjoy the set and etiquette to take note of, such as the proper way to hold the chawan (茶碗; tea cup).
You’d be required to sit on your knees throughout. If you have difficulties doing so or are travelling with elderly, let the host know in advance and they will provide a small stool.
Enjoy authentic Uji tea and wagashi
Image credit: @kyoto.uji_tour_official
Admission into Taihōan Tea House costs ¥1,000 (~USD9.65) per person. The fee includes an authentic cup of Uji tea with a seasonal wagashi served on the side. Different kinds of tea are served on different days, so you’ll be served either matcha or sencha.
Image credit: @jp_yuken
For those who’d prefer a more hands-on approach, pay a little more (¥2,400, ~USD23.15) for the otemae experience course (お点前体験). With an instructor on the side to guide you through each step of the tea ceremony, the course lets you try your hand at tea making.
Unlike the aforementioned course which accepts walk-ins, do note that reservations for the otemae experience course have to be done 3 days in advance.
Getting to Taihoan Tea House
Image credit: @w_h_a_06
If you’re in Kyoto and have an afternoon to spare, Uji makes for the perfect side trip – thanks to its proximity to the ancient city.
Getting there: Starting from JR Kyoto Station, take the train on the Nara Line and alight at JR Uji Station. From there, a 10-minute commute on foot along the river banks will bring you to the tea house.
Uji City Tourist Information Centre
Image credit: @hokkaidopharaohwang
Admission tickets into Taihōan Tea House can be purchased at the Uji City Tourist Information Centre. Once you’ve gotten the tickets, make your way to the tea house that’s situated beside the centre.
You’ll be ushered into the tea room once the space is available. The ceremony will begin shortly once the guests are seated, so relax and immerse yourself in the serene world of sadō.
Opening hours: 10AM-4PM, Daily (Closed from 21st Dec-9th Jan annually)
Address: Togawa-2 Uji, 611-0021, Kyoto
For more places to visit in Japan, read these:
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- Super Nintendo World – a guide to the latest attraction in Universal Studios Japan
- Fujiyama Tower at Fuji-Q Highland – see Mount Fuji on top of a roller coaster
- Peaceful Japanese Zen gardens
- Diorama restaurant in Osaka lets cats roam around freely