Rhonja ordered perfect weather for Marcel’s birthday today. She pleaded with the weather gods to keep the sunshine coming. It was a perfect day..
Ok, so maybe they misunderstood a little. Sunshine, or a Japan shaped/sized raincloud that wouldn’t let up throughout the day, we get the confusion there.
Still, we headed towards Uji with two umbrella’s. Uji is renowned for its matcha tea so Rhonja found a bunch of tea related things to do. Like joining a tea ceremony, being taught how to perform a tea ceremony and grinding/drinking your own matcha tea! There’s also a temple known for its relation to tea and while you’re at it there’s a shopping street with matcha related foods. Rhonja might enjoy the matcha flavour a little more than Marcel, but it’s still a cool thing to do for your birthday!
The weather did influence the order we would do things in though. We started by visiting some other shrines nearby that are also on the world heritage list. Inside one of them was happening what appeared to be a super serious ceremony. We got to peek inside through a little through a window and moved on. The temple grounds were already a water park, but luckily there were stepping stones. It started to rain even more.
On the map Rhonja saw we were near an observation deck on top of a mountain. Signs indicated it was only 1.2km away, it didn’t seem too high and the path seemed easily accessible. We made the climb so we could have a little lunch Rhonja brought along at the top. The view was pretty nice, but the rain did obscure a lot of it which was quite a shame. Just as we thought it couldn’t rain more… it started to rain more.
We were near the building where you could grind your own matcha though, so when we got down the mountain again we decided to head there first! There were several things to do in the building. There was a shop, a tea ceremony, a café, a little museum about tea and of course the workshops. The museum was teeny tiny, really it was just a room with some of the machinery used to process tea, some signs and a movie you could watch that described the different processing types for tea. It was english so we watched that for a bit before seeing if we could join a workshop. We waited at a counter and saw people busy with workshops in the next room over behind glass. The workers definitely saw us but did not acknowledge us for a few minutes which was weird. But eventually one came to us and said we could currently only join the matcha grinding workshop, which is what we set out to do in the first place anyway! Matcha grinding is done with a special grinding stone which you turn counter-clockwise. Not too quickly, 3 seconds per turn, or the matcha is too coarse and turns out bitter. It was kind of relaxing to do and when we had enough matcha to make tea with we had to gather it up in a box to move along. We had to use a special type of bamboo whisk to make some froth on top of the tea and we got a red-bean sweet to go with it. It was tasty but mostly just kind of fun to drink your own tea! (Marcel looks extremely bored in the picture, but he was actually having fun 🙂 )
We headed towards a temple next which looked really pretty in pictures. It’s partly surrounded by water with koi fish and a beautiful garden. Now however, it was almost completely surrounded by water. The rain did a real number on that one! It seemed to have let up a little though… Or so we’d like to say, but it seemed to get even worse instead.
The museum that went with the temple was packed with people who had had enough of the rain like we did. Our shoes were drenched, our bags were soaked and we were just starting to feel a little miserable. We decided to head home early instead. Our walk back to the station still took us past the street with matcha related foods though, so we looked at the selection a bit while passing by but we didn’t really feel up to it anymore. The rain managed to get even worse! Or maybe we just got more fed up with it and it just seemed that way.
On our way back to the hotel we also were passed by some kind of ceremony. People holding little shrines and banging drums, and also an old guy being carried by others. We got a bunch of sticks from one of the people, but we weren’t sure what they were for.
We asked our hotel staff if they knew what they were, but unfortunately they didn’t know either.
Back at the hotel we hung our clothes to dry a little and after changing and relaxing a little we went for dinner. The restaurant Rhonja initially chose was full though, so on our way to the next option we happened to pass by another restaurant Rhonja had seen online that looked tasty and fun! We both had some beef cutlet, served with rice, miso soup, some kale and a soft-boiled egg. A soft boiled egg is nearly raw in Japan as it’s used as a sauce for your food. Rhonja saw they served matcha beer and thought that would be fun, and Marcel went for a normal Kyoto beer. It was all very tasty (except the matcha beer though it was still decent).
Afterwards we headed towards a nearby arcade to play some pop-n-music together. Rhonja didn’t do too shabby if you ask her, since she managed to (usually) get a score of a little above 50% of Marcel’s score!
It was still fairly early though when we finished playing so we headed towards Yodobashi again since they have plenty of things to look at. After that though, we headed back to our hotel stopping at a Lawson’s to get some beers and snacks for in our room. Though a very, very rainy day we still had fun!