Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ocha no Sato World Tea Museum

Ocha no Sato (お茶の郷) World Tea Museum stands nestled among the tea fields of Shimada, Shizuoka in Japan.  Parking is free at the museum for those who drive.  For those who visit by train, a taxi from Kanaya Station is very affordable at only 850 yen or you can also make the 1.5-2km trek on foot.

During this first visit, I chose to walk and experience more of Shimada.  Directional signs for Ocha no Sato are scarce near the rail station and walking maps for the area are lacking in recognizable landmarks, so I went with the reliable route following Highway 473.  Along this roundabout 2km uphill climb, I was able to see bamboo and ancient tree groves, persimmons a-plenty, traditional homes, and tea fields.



At the top of the hill, all signs point to Ocha no Sato!


The round building to the front holds the Yume Ichiba shop, Gensoen tearoom, and Moegi restaurant.  The rectangular building to the rear holds the museum exhibits.  

Enter the museum on the 1st floor where you'll find a large meeting room and tea library, and take the elevator to the 2nd floor to find the ticket and information desk.  Admission to the museum is 600 yen or 1,000 yen including admission to the teahouse.  You will receive a guide (in English if that is your preferred language) and a set of laminated cards explaining each exhibit.  If you would prefer a guided tour of the museum and teahouse, please make a reservation with Ocha no Sato in advance.

Follow the printed guide through the 2nd floor, viewing tea and related items exhibited along the way, then take the elevator to the 3rd floor.

100 Ryo (3.65kg/8lb) and 1,000 Ryo (36.5kg/80lb) Tea from Hunan, China

Russian Samovar

The World of Tea exhibit is located on the 3rd floor of the museum.  Before entering, visitors can taste a sample of the monthly featured tea and interact with a display of 90 teas from 30 countries that you can see, smell, and touch.  

Monthly Tea: Taiwan Oolong

Tea leaf variations

Goishi Cha

Enter the World Tea Room and explore a replica of Huxinting Teahouse (Shanghai, China), a Tibetan home (Nepal), a Turkish restaurant (Ankar), and a British home.  Teaware from all over the world are also on display throughout the exhibit.


Carved door donated by Nepal (left) and a multi-story replica of one of the oldest tea trees in Yunnan, China (right) 

Return to the 2nd floor and enter The Workshop Corner.  Here visitors can enjoy a sample of tea, make a chamusume (tea harvesting girl) bookmark, and grind their own matcha.

Kabuse Sencha


Chamusume bookmark instructions

Matcha grinding workstation

In the same area, you'll find equipment used in early tea production.


Enter the Japanese Lifestyle and Tea exhibit room to see the history of tea in Japan, videos and miniature dioramas highlighting early tea production, and examples of tea as it is enjoyed throughout Japan. 


Examples of Buku Bukuu Cha (left) from Naha, Okinawa Prefecture and Bata-Bata Cha (right) from Asahi, Toyama Prefecture

Moegi Restaurant is located on the 2nd floor of the Yume Ichiba building and can also be reached by a walkway from the 2nd floor of the museum building.  It seats 200 with a fine view of Mount Fuji on a clear day.  Meal sets range from simple curry and rice dishes to sushi and kaiseki ryori.  Last orders must be placed by 2pm as the restaurant closes for everything except group reservations by 2:30pm.


My meal set was cold chasoba (handmade green tea noodles) with sakuraebi kakiage (shrimp tempura) and sencha in a kyusu that produced three cups of tea.


Shomokurou (縱目楼) teahouse is a combined restoration from the estate of a Fushimi magistrate designed by famous Edo-era architect and tea master, Kobori Enshu, and Iwashimizu Hachimangu shrine sub-temple, Takinomotobo.

Tickets to attend a tea ceremony and enjoy a bowl of matcha with a seasonal wagashi (tea sweet) are only 500 yen (400 yen when included with museum admission) and may be purchased at the ticket and information desk on the 2nd floor of the museum.


Enter through the automatic shoji doors, remove and store your shoes on the shelves provided, and step into the formal reception room, Taiunkaku (対雲閣). You will be guided through Kohokyo (向峯居) tearoom which overlooks the garden with a view of Mount Fuji on a clear day, and into the bright and airy antechamber, Rinsuitei (臨水亭) where you can take part in a tea ceremony. 





Before you leave, you may also visit Yukenan (友賢庵) tearoom which is currently being restored and features a traditional nijiri-guchi (small crawl-through doorway) leading to the garden.


Ocha no Sato's Japanese garden is free and open to the public.  The Kaiyu-shiki-teien (strolling garden) is a reconstruction of the east garden of the Sento Imperial Palace designed by Kobori Enshu for Emperor Go-Mizunoo following his abdication in 1629.  A yatsuhashi (eight-plank bridge) can be found along the northern wall of the garden, though this area was under repair during my visit.


The Yume Ichiba shop is located on the ground floor of the first building you will encounter when arriving at Ocha no Sato.  Here, you can purchase a wide variety of local teas, teaware, and souvenirs. 

Gensoen tearoom is located near the front of Yume Ichiba and is a great place to relax with a pot of tea and a seasonal dessert.  


I concluded a wonderful half-day visit to Ocha no Sato with a hojicha and zenzai (sweet red bean soup) set at Gensoen before setting off on the long, scenic walk down to the train station.


Address: 〒428-0034 静岡県島田市金谷富士見町3053-2
〒428-0034 Shizuoka-ken, Shimada-shi, Kanayafujimichō, 3053−2

Hours:
Ocha no Sato Tea Museum: 9:00am to 5:00pm, Closed Tuesday
Ocha no Sato Teahouse "Shomokuro": 9:30am to 4:00pm
Ocha no Sato Restaurant "Moegi": 11:00am to 2:30pm

3 comments:

  1. Great post. I had heard about Ocha no Sato in Shimada but have never visited. It's on my wishlist for the next time I visit Japan.

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    1. Thanks Ricardo! When you go, the Tokaido Main Line train will take you from Shizuoka City to Kanaya Station in just over 30 minutes. It's very convenient.

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  2. What a great museum and culture, I'm going to see the museum. Can i ask? I Heard that the museum is closing now because of renovation of the building. If so. I can't be there :(

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