THE SPECTACULAR VIEW OF TEA PLANTATIONS – CLIMB UP TO WAZUKA A TEA-GROWING REGION

  • 2022/11/1
  • THE SPECTACULAR VIEW OF TEA PLANTATIONS – CLIMB UP TO WAZUKA A TEA-GROWING REGION はコメントを受け付けていません

THE SPECTACULAR VIEW OF TEA PLANTATIONS

CLIMB UP TO WAZUKA
A TEA-GROWING REGION

A spectacular spot in Kyoto where tourists from domestic and overseas come to enjoy beautiful tea plantations and Uji tea gourmet cuisine.

Among the traditional cultures of Kyoto Prefecture, the southern region is a place especially where Japanese tea culture was nurtured through a long history, producing “matcha (1),” “sencha (2),” and “gyokuro (3)” teas. Located at the southern tip of Kyoto Prefecture, near the border with Nara Prefecture, the tea plantations of Wazuka Town have a long history of approximately 800 years, and is a major tea production area, producing approximately 40% of the tea that is marketed as “Uji tea,” Kyoto’s representative brand. Also known as “Chagen-kyo (4)” which is based on the motif of “Togen-kyo (5),” the town’s mountainsides are covered with tea fields. Tea cultivation in Wazuka Town and the surrounding area developed because of its favorable weather and soil, as well as the large temperature difference between day and night, which was suitable for growing fragrant tea. It is also said that the fog created by the Wazuka River flowing through the center of the basin blocks the light and protects the tea leaves from the strong sunlight, while at the same time producing a delicious flavor and taste.

Since the tea fields in Wazuka Town are on a slope and cannot be accessed by large machinery, tea farmers have cleared the fields to make them easier to work in, resulting in a landscape lined with beautiful green stripes. The improved tea fields produce better quality tea, and because of its high quality, Wazuka is also known as a high-end tea production area. The beautiful wave patterns of Wazuka’s tea fields are the result of the sweat of the farmers.

Wazuka Town was registered as the first “Kyoto Prefecture Scenic Property” in 2008, joined the “Most Beautiful Village in Japan” association in 2013, and was recognized as a “Japan Heritage” in 2015.

  1. Tea leaves grown under cover (Cover the shoots with cloth during their growth and keep them out of the light for a certain period of time.) and dried without rubbing, ground in a tea mill to produce a fine powder. It is bright green in color, creamy and frothy when brewed with a tea whisk, and has a fragrance of fresh, young tea leaves. The taste of matcha is rich, with an astringent taste with deliciousness and sweetness.
  2. Green tea grown without blocking sunlight, using new sprouts, and dried by rubbing the tea leaves in several stages. You can enjoy its yellow-ish watercolor, refreshing flavor, and a good balance of sweet, astringent, and bitter tastes.
  3. Gyokuro is grown in the sun by covering it with cloth for a certain period. It is characterized by a full-bodied flavor, with not much astringency or bitterness. After the tea leaves are harvested, they are heated and dried using steaming heat while being well rubbed.
  4. “Cha” means tea in Japanese.
  5. The word means a perfect utopia that cannot be achieved in reality.

At some point, tourists from overseas began to visit Wazuka to see the tea plantation scenery, and the beauty of the tea plantation became well known to the Japanese as well, attracting tour groups by sightseeing bus, and by around 2018, it had become such a popular spot that about 70,000 people visit annually. This is the result of the successful implementation of projects involving the local community, such as the naming of “Chagen-kyo,” overseas promotion through social media, and “farm stay,” in which visitors can stay at a farmhouse and experience farm work.

After mid-October, when the average daily temperature drops below 20℃, the evergreen tea trees stop growing. At this time, the work of trimming branches and shaping the tea plantation begins. The ridges are sharply formed, giving the appearance of a work of art. In April, when the new shoots are somewhat ready, they begin to cover the fields with black cover to block the sunlight, so the best time to see the tea plantations is from November to March.

Various lands, such as slopes between mountains and on hills, are used for tea plantations, and the green and black stripes follow each other like a geometric pattern. What you see as black lines are narrow pathways in the tea fields, and according to the locals, tea from neatly tended fields produces delicious tea. It is both the natural terrain of Wazuka town and the hands of people who keep the tea fields beautiful that make Uji tea, a leading brand in Japan, and a formative beauty that attracts tourists.

There are several tea plantation viewpoints in Wazuka town:

• Kamatsuka Tea Plantation
• Shirasu Tea Plantation
• Erihara Tea Plantation
• Ishidera Tea Plantation

Kamatsuka Tea Plantation
The tea plantation of Kamatsuka was started by the town’s ancestors, who cultivated all of the land up to the steep slopes near the top of the mountain by hand. The combination of the tea fields and buildings that retain their old-fashioned atmosphere offers a unique view.
The large tea plantation “Kamazuka Tea Plantation” visible from the center of town where the Wazuka Tourist Information Center is located.

Shirasu Tea Plantation
Tea plantations in Shirasu, where you can enjoy the scenery of various patterns formed by the different tea fields.

Ishidera Tea Plantation
The most famous tea field in Wazuka town is the Ishidera Tea Plantation. In 2008, it was recognized as the first district to be registered as a scenic asset by Kyoto Prefecture. All the small mountains are covered with tea fields, and the power of the tea fields stretching skyward is a fascinating feature of the area. From the traffic light at Wazuka Takahashi on Prefectural Route 5, walk up the road lined with houses and trees, and when you round the bend, the view opens up to reveal a vast tea field covering the entire mountain. No matter where you take your picture from, it is sure to look great on a social media. At “dan dan cafë”, located along the road, you can enjoy lunch and cafe menu while relaxing and enjoying the view from the glass-walled restaurant.

A panoramic view of the Ishidera the plantation can be seen from inside dan dan cafë.

Parking lot of dan dan cafë.

Access to Wazuka-town

Wazuka Town is surrounded by mountains and despite being popularly considered an unexplored region, is still conveniently accessible by car. It takes about 80 minutes from Kyoto and Osaka, and about 30 minutes from Nara. Needless to say, it is also accessible by public transportation. The nearest JR Kamo Station is about 60 minutes from JR Kyoto Station and about 66 minutes from JR Osaka Station; from JR Kamo Station, take Nara Kotsu’s Route 66 bus (bound for Wazuka-Town Kosugi), which takes about 15 minutes to the tea farm area. The buses run about once an hour, so it is recommended to check the bus timetable in advance.

It is highly recommended to rent bicycles to explore the tea fields, as the roads approaching the tea fields are narrow and parking space is limited. Electric bicycles are available for rent at the Wazuka Tea Cafe and the Wazuka Tourist Information Center, making it easy to get around the tea fields, which are often hilly.

  1. The Wazuka Tea Cafe sells Wazuka tea and other specialty products directly. At the eat-in space, you can enjoy desserts made from Wazuka tea.
  2. Electric bicycles can be rented at the Wazuka Tea Cafe.
  3. The Wazuka Tea Cafe offers a variety of tea-based souvenirs, including tea dumplings, matcha chocolate, matcha pudding, Wazuka tea, and sencha dressing.
  4. Tea fields are the fruit of farmers’ efforts. Do not enter the tea fields or the restricted areas.
  5. Electric bicycles can also be rented at the Wazuka Tourist Information Center.

Wazuki Tourist Information Center
Kyoto | Tourist Information Center

19, Kamatsuka Kyomachi, Wazuka-cho, Soraku-gun, Kyoto
Open: 9:00-17:00
Closed: Year-end and New Year holidays
https://kyotowazuka.com/

dan dan cafë
Kyoto | Cafe

1-1, Higashitani, Ishitera, Wazuka-cho,
Soraku-gun, Kyoto
Tel: +81-(0)774-66-1185
Open: 10:00-17:00
Closed: Tuesdays, Wednesdays

A cafe where you can enjoy the view of Ishidera’s tea plantation. You can enjoy lunch dandan Gohan (phone reservations recommended) and the cafe menu. Latte, sweets, and gelato using local matcha and hojicha teas are popular.

https://dandancafe.business.site/

Wazuka Tea Cafe
Kyoto | Cafe

35 Shirasu Ohazama, Wazuka-cho,
Soraku-gun, Kyoto
Tel: +81-(0)774-78-4180
Open: Monday-Sunday 10:00-17:00
Closed: December – March: Closed on Mondays, Year-end and New Year holidays

A cafe and store where you can taste Wazuka tea directly sold by local farmers as well as sweets made from Wazuka tea. More than 100 varieties of tea are sold directly, and tea sweets and processed foods are also available. It also serves as a tourist information center with a bicycle rental desk and a map.

https://www.facebook.com/wazukacha.cafe/

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