Tuesday, April 8, 2014


While visiting Uji, I stopped for tea at Japan's oldest tea shop.

Tsuen/通圓 was founded in 1160 on the eastern side of the Uji Bridge by Furukawa Unai who later took the name Taikei-an Tsuen Masahisa.  Descendants of Tsuen have continued to operate the tea shop and have served important figures in Japan's history, including Ashikaga Yoshimasa, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.  The current version of the tea shop was built in 1672.

The central area of the tea shop is part of the original structure.  Tea urns from the past three hundred years are on display, as well as a wooden figure of the first Tsuen.  Here you may purchase tea, teaware, and gifts, and sample their tea.

In addition to the tea shop, Tsuen also offers a tea room where you can have a light meal with tea while enjoying the view of the Uji River.  

Due to limited seating, guests may need to sign in and wait for a table to become available.  It's worth the relatively short wait, but for those who just want a quick treat, Tsuen also offers green tea ice cream that can be enjoyed on the comfortable seating outside the tea room entrance.

Guests of the tea room are served a refreshing cup of houjicha as soon as they are seated.

I ordered zenzai (a favorite traditional dessert), which was delicious, and the constant refills of the houjicha were greatly appreciated.

If you have a free morning or afternoon while staying in Kyoto, I highly recommend a visit to Uji, and especially a visit to the famous Tsuen tea shop.  It's a short 20-30 minute train ride from Kyoto Station on the JR Nara Line or by the Keihan Uji Line and then a short walk east from JR Uji Station across Uji Bridge or directly across the street from Uji Station (Keihan Line).

〒611-0021 京都府宇治市宇治東内1番地
〒611-0021 Kyōto-fu, Uji-shi, Uji, Higashiuchi−1

9:30am-5:30pm (Open 7 days)

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