"Yokoso" Welcome to Uji city, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan !

The Unesco World Heritage of Humankind


 Phoenix Hall of the Byodo-in Temple
   ( Byôdo-in  Hôô-dô )
    Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture

Uji-bashi Bridge

The Uji-bashi Bridge was repaired in 1996. This bridge is one of the
three oldest extant bridge in Japan. It was originally built in 646 by the
buddhist priest Dôto of the Gangô-ji Temple in Nara.

Two other old bridges recorded in history do no exist now.

In 1791, the stone monument to the Bridge, explaining about the building
of the bridge, was found from under the grounds of the Hashi-dera Hôjô-in
(Jyôkô-in) Temple at the east end of the bridge.

It had been at the riverside of the Uji River. It must have been carried
there by a flood.

The monument had only one third of the inscriptions and the two thirds
of it were torn off and were missing. The five scholars including Kobayashi
Kôsetsu investigated about the two thirds of the missing inscriptions.
They found the full text of the inscriptions in the "Chronicle of the Emperors"
published during the Kamakura Period.( 1192-1333). Two thrids of the
monument was reproduced and was fixed to one third of the monument
which is called the Uji-bashi Danpi, "torn-off monument to the Uji-bashi

It is one of the three oldest monuments in Japan together with the "Tako-
no-hi" monument in Gunma Prefecture and the monument to the Kaga
Castle in Miyagi Prefecture.

The protruding platform of the bridge shown in the photo was called "San
-no-ma" from where at the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, water was drawn
for his tea ceremony during the Azuchi-momoyama Period.(1568 - 1600)

"Uji" was and is the synonim of the best quality tea.

During the Edo Period, there were official processions to carry tea pots
from Kyoto to Edo for the shogun in the Edo Castle and to the mausoleum
of the first shogun at Nikko. People enjoyed watching the fascinating
procession to carry tea to Edo. This procession was abolished after the
fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1867 but it was revived as an event
in 973. It is performed on May 2nd. It do not march a long distance to
Tokyo. It starts at Kenninji Temple and arrive at the Yasaka Shrine..

The Pope John Paul II drank delicious tea of Uji when he visited Kyoto.

It is said that the tea growing in Uji started in the thirteenth century by
the priest Myôe of the Kôdai-ji Temple in Kyoto who taught the local farmers
how to grow tea. During the Muromachi Period ( 1338 - 1573 ), the Ashikaga
Shogunate encouraged tea growing. The culture of tea ceremony flourished
in Kyoto and many important warlords such as Hideyoshi learned tea
ceremony from the great masters such as Sen no Rikyû.

The Uji-bashi Bridge was the spot which appeared in many legends, works
of literature, in painting and poems.

Phoenix Hall of Byôdô-in Temple

After 8 years of the excavation reserches, the original parts of the pond ,
was reproduced in 1998. The flat and the curved bridges were reproduced
in 2000.

The Phoenix Hall in April with the cherry blossoms in

Phoenix Hall of
the Byôdô-in Temple

Wisseria flowers "Fuji no hana "in May

Wisseria flowers "Fuji no hana "in May

The Saint Hônen Shônin (1133-1212) founded the Jôdo Shû sect of
Buddhism easy to be understood by the mass of ordinary people in
contrast with the esoteric Buddhist sects founded during the Heian Period
with their philosophy difficult to be understood by ordinary people.

The teaching of the Jôdo ( Pure Land ) sect is simple. Anyone can go to
Pure Land only by chanting "Nenbutsu"( sutra ). In those days, there was
some uneasy and pesimistic feeling prevailing in the Japanese society.

Many people believed that the end of this world was coming soon. This
belief is called "Mappô Shisô" . Many people wanted to go "Pure Land "
(Jôdo) after death.

The teaching of the "Jôdo" sect was accepted widely among poor people.
It was an attractive teaching to poor people. Some noblemen, however
were influenced by the popular belief of Jôdo teaching.

Uji is a place of scenic beauty and from the beginning of the Heian Period
( 794-1192), noblemen in Kyoto had country villas there.

The imperial noblemen were at their height of power before emergence of
the powerful samurai class during the eleventh century. Fujiwara Michinaga
( 966-1027 ), the most powerful nobleman of the Fujiwara clan, composed
a poem which says :

" This world is mine. The moon is alway full for me, it will never wane
for me. " Michinaga obtained the resort palace of Minamoto Shigenobu
from his widow. Fujiwara Yorimichi, the eldest son of Michinaga, inherited it
and turned it into a buddhist temple named Byôdô-in in 1052, the year
which was believed as the first year toward the end of this world.

In 1053, the image of Amida in the Phoenix Hall was completed by the
famous sculptor r Jôchô.

Yorimichi wanted to reproduce the Pure Land on earth with the Byôdoin

The famiy of the daughter of the author in front of
the Gate to the garden of the Byôdô-in Temple

"Hôô" ( Phoenix )


The original bell is in the Hôshôkan".Museum, where you are prohibited to
take pictures, Here, you can take pictures.

In 2000, the flat and the curved bridges were reproduced


Fudôdô Hall

Tomb of Minamoto no Yorimasa
( 1104-1180)
In the precincts of Fudôdô Hall

Tomb of Minamoto Yorimasa

Minamoto Yorimasa, indignant at the autocratic behaviors of Taira no
Kiyomori, with the order of Imperial Prince Mochihito-ô, rose in revlt against

On May 26th 1180, with the warrior monks of Mii-dera, he arrived at Uji.

Taira no Tmonoki, leading leading overwhelmingly large army, defeated
his forces completely. He commited seppuku in the precincts of Byodo-in
Temple. He was seventy six years old.

His farewell poem was ;

花さくことも なかりしに
みのなるはてぞ 悲しかりける

Uzumoregi no
Hana saku kotomo nakarishini
Mino naru hatezo kanashi karikeru

I am a piece of tree,

buried under earth,

How sad !, without never having been in bloom

His uprising and defeat were the begining of the fall of the Heike.

In the No play "Yorimasa"

能 「 頼政 」

In the No play "Yorimasa", one travelling monk visited Uji in his way to Nara.

An old man appeared and he kindly guided the monk to several interesting
places in Uji. In the precincts of Byôdôin Temple, the monk asked him about
the fan-shaped lown. The old man explained that there Minamoto Yorimasa
put a fan and sitting on it , comitted seppuku.

He said : " I myself is Yorimasa" and dissappeared.

One night, in a dream of the monk, the ghost of Yorimasa appeared,and
explained him the detail of the fierce battle in Uji and chanted a poem :

I am a piece of tree,

buried under earth,

How sad !, without never having been in bloom

The ghost asked him to perform the appropriate funeral services and

Aji-ike Pond viewed from the Museum.

Uji-gawa River
On December 20th 2007

I visited Uji On December 20th 2007. I found very few tourists. In December,
another palce of scenic beauty, Arashiyama is crowded with Japanese
and foreign tourists.

In this calm place, many fierce battles, famous in Japanese history, took

On January 20th 1184, the army of 25,000 warrriors led by Minamoto
Yoshitsune fought against the army of Kiso Yoshinaka.

Sasaki Takatsuna, a retainer of Yoshitsune was the first to cross the
Uji River to attack the enemies.

Kajiwara no Kagetsuna was at the head of the warriors but Sasaki
Takatsuna told him : " My lord, be careful. The girth of your horse is loose.

Kagetsuna alighted from his horse to find that the girth is well tight.
Meanwhile, Takatsuna reached the other side of the River..

The Coat of arms of Sasaki Takatsuna and
of the author of this article.

Sasaki Takatsuna crossing the Uji River.
( By courtesy of Yasaki Inari Jinja Shrine in Tokyo. )

On December 20th 2007,
the leaves of the willow tree at the foot of the Uji Bridge
have fallen.

The Sunset


The monument to the
competition to be the first
to cross the Uji River to
to attack the enemies.

"Asagiri-bashi" ( Morning Mist ) Bridge
to go to Ujigami Shrine from
Byôdô-in Temple

The First Torii Gate
to go to Ujigami Shrine
and Uji Shrine

To a place to get aboard boats.

宇治神社 桐原殿 ( 拝殿 )

The Worshipping Hall of Uji Shrine

Main Hall of
Uji Jinja Shrine

Main Hall of
Uji Jinja Shrine

The Worshipping Hall "Haiden"
of Ujigami Jinja Shrine

The Main Hall "Honden"
of Ujigami Jinja Shrine
designated Heritage of Humanity
by the UNESCO

The inside of the Main Hall
of Ujigami Shrine
Three shrines incorporated
in one building

Byôdô-in Temple and Uji-gami Shrine were declared heritages of humanity
by the UNESCO in 1994.

Ujigami Shrine has a modest looking, but it is a unique Japanese architecture
of the most ancient style of Shinto Shrine and at the same time, it has a
structure of residence of noblemen of the Heian Period. It is designated
World Heritage by the UNESCO and National Treasure by the Japanese

After the death of Emperor Ôjin, the Crown Prince Uji-no-waki-iratsuko
doggedly refused to suceed to the throne and insisted that his brother,
Prince Ôsazaki-no-mikoto should govern the Sun Rising Country, because
his brother is more wise and virtuous than him.

The imperial throne continued vacant. Meanwhile, one of his brothers,
Prince Ôyamamori-no-mikoto intended to assassinate prince Uji-no-waki
-iratsuko to usurp the throne. Prince Ôsazaki-no-mikoto had knowledge
of this conspiracy and he informed his brother prince Uji-no-waki -iratsuko
of this wicked attemp of Prince Ôyamamori-no-mikoto. The Crown Prince
with this knowledge, attacked Prince Ôyamamori-no-mikoto and defeated

The Crown Prince committed suicide to force his wise brother to ascend
the Imperial throne for the sake of the nation.

Prince Ôsazaki-no-mikoto finally ascended the Imperial throne and became
Emperor Nintoku (Virtue). He became a soverein, wise and virtuous, as his
brother suppoed him to be.

Postage stamp to commorate the First Milemium
of the Tale of Genji

issued in 2008

Statue of Lady Murasaki

del siglo XI. Esta novela es la más larga y antigua del mundo. El Museo
de la Historia de Genji da a conocernos expone el esplendor de la cultura
de la nobleza en el siglo décimo y undécimo, narrado en su novela.

The novelist Lady Musaki chose many places of Uji in "The Tale of Genji,
written at the beginning of the 11th century.

Uji-bashi Bridge

This platform was made by order of Toyotomi
Hideyoshi to draw up water from the river for
tea ceremony

三星園 上林三入本店
( みつぼしえん かんばやしさんにゅうほんてん )

Tea shop "Mitsuboshi-en Kanbayashi Sannyû"

The owner of this tea shop is a descendant of Kanbayashi family which
was a official supplier for Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the shogun.

Kanbayashi was director general of the Procession of Tea ""O-chatubo
Dôchû" (Journey of Tea Jars).

It is said that the High Priest Myoe was given some tea seeds by the priest
Eisai who brought tea seeds to Japan from China. Myoe planted them in
Togano-o in the late twenteeth century. Tea growing was spread to many
places of Kyoto and then to other regions.

Dicen que el Santo Myôe del Templo Kôdai-ji de Kioto trajo té a Japón
desde China y enseñó a los campesinos de Uji el cultivo del té en el siglo
XIII. Los shogunes de Muromachi promovieron el cultivo de té. Durante
el Período Azuchi-momoyama, la ceremonía de té llegó a ser muy popular
entre los comerciantes ricos, los señores guerreros y los nobles.

La parte saliente en el centro del Puente es el lugar donde sacaban
agua del Río Uji-gawa para la ceremonía de té por orden de Toyotomi
Hideyoshi. El té de Uji era casi el sinónimo del té de calidad durante el
Período Edo. La procesión pomposa y flamante "del Viaje del Tarro de Té"
transportaba el té de calidad de Uji al Castillo del Edo para el shogun y
para ofrendar al Mausoleo del primer shogun en Nikko. La procesión de los
tarros de té dejó de realizarse con la caída del shogunato.

En el año 1973, se recuperó esta tradición de la procesión de los tarros
de té.
Actualmente el segundo día de mayo, se presenta la procesión
como un evento cultural. La procesión no viaja hasta Tokio. Sale del
Templo Kennin-ji y llega al Templo Yasaka Jinja en Kioto..

El Papa Juan Pablo bebió el té de calidad de Uji cuando visitó Kioto.

El Puente de Uji aparece en muchas leyendas, poemas y novelas.
En el primer domingo de Octubre, se celebra en Uji el Festival de Té.

Tarro de té del Festival de
"Ochatsubo Dôchû( Viaje de los
Tarros de Té )

La pesca con cormorán era tradicional y exclusivamente para
hombres. Pero, recietemente, hay jovenes pesacadoras aprendizas de

鵜飼( うかい )

"Ukai" Pesca con cormorán

La historia de la pesca con cormorán tiene una historia milenaria.

En la Crónica de Japón "Nihon Shoki", publicada en el año 720, se relata
que durante el reinado del primer emperador Jinmu, un hombre que era uno
de los descendientes de una familia de los pescadores que practicaran la
pesaca con cormorán.

Un chino de la dinastía Sui ( 581-618) que visitó Japón, describe ;
" En Japón, los japoneses practican pesca muy rara con cormorán."
Actualmente, en algunas regiones de China, se practica la pesca con

Los cormoranes se sumergen bajo el agua y capturan peces.con pico largo
y los engullen. Sus cuellos están atados con un lazo de cañamo para
presionarlos. Cuando los presionan, vomitan peces. El lazo está bastante
flojo y los pecitos pequeños llegan hasta el estómago.

La pesca con cormorán se practicaba en muchos ríos. Durante la Era
Meiji, se fue desapareciendo en muchos ríos.

Hoy en día, se practica esta pesca en unos ríos como el Río Nagara( En
la ciudad de Gifu, Prefectura de Gifu ), en el Río Uji ( En la ciudad de Uji,
Prefectura de Kioto ), en el Río Nishiki-gawa ( En la ciudad de Iwakuni,
Prefectura de Yamaguchi ) etc., durante el verano y en algunos ríos
hasta septiembre.

Matsuo Basho hizo un haiku que reza :

Es tan divertida la pesca "Ukai" primero,

Luego me pone triste

Ukai ( Cormorant fishing )
on the Nagara River

Cormorant fishing

Emperor Nintoku

The War between the Heike Clan (Taira)
and Genji Clan ( Minamoto )

Heike Monogatari ( The Tale of Heike )

Uji City

Byodoin Temple

Searching for the True Uji

The Jodo sect Buddhism ( Pure Land
 Buddhism )
 Official Web. Page

Shinto Shrines :

Wangin Culture Festival
Yeongam, South Jeolla Province, Korea

Buddhist Temples
Mausoleum of Emperor Nintoku
In Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture

Emperor Nintoku ( Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park )

Temple in Uji. Both Fujiwara Michinaga and his son Fujiwara Yorimichi
wielded their power as prime ministers, regents, and fathers in-law or
grandfathers of the emperors.

The Temple had many buildings in a large area. In 1336, however,
Kusunoki Masashige fought in Uji against the Ashikaga Takauji who
wanted to enter the capital of Kyoto. Takauji's troops were held back by
Masashige's troops. Many buildings of the Temple were burned down.
The Phoenix Hall was the only remaining building.

Later, after the Civil War of Ônin, the Temple was left uncaredfor. The
Phonix Hall is now the only building which reminds us of the glory and
splendor of the past of the Temple.

The Byôdô-in Temple was proclaimed by the Unesco in 1994 as the World
Heritage together with the near-by Uji-gami Jinja which is modest-looking
but represents the old shinto shine style and has a structure of the residence
of the noblemen of the Heian Period.

It was, therefore, designated also as the National Treasure and
was declared as the World Heritage by the Unesco.

The Praying Hall "Haiden" of the Uji-gami Shrine is of the "Shinden-zukuri"
style of the Heian Period ( 794 -1192). It was the style of the dwelling house
of the noblemen of the Heian Period. The Main Hall "Honden" is of the
"Ikkensya zururi style" which is the the oldest shinto temple style.
The three shrines for three deities are in another one shrine building.

The spirits of emperor Ôjin, emperor Nintoku and prince Uji-no-waki-
iratsuko are enshrined in the shrine. Emperor Ôjin loved his youngest son
prince Uji-no-waki-iratsuko and nominated himas a crown prince to become
emperor. After the death of emperor Ôjin, however, the prince believed that
his elder brother prince Ôsazaki-no-mikoto was wiser and more virtuous
than him and deserve to be emperor more than him.

The crown prince Uji-no-waki-iratsuko asked his brother to ascend to the
throne. Prince Ôsazaki-no-mikoto, however, said that the will of their father
must be respected. The throne continued to be vacant during three years.
The prince Uji-no-waki-iratsuko retired and went to Uji so that his brother
would feel obliged to become emperor.  In the meanwhile, one of their
brothers, prince Ôyamamori-no-mikoto conspired to assassinate prince
Uji-no-waki-iratsuko to become emperor. Prince Ôsazaki-no-mikoto
obtained this information of the conspiracy and sent a warning to prince Uji-no-waki-iratsuko,who attacked prince Ôyamamori-no-mikoto and
killed him in Uji.

The crown prince thought that the nation must have a ruler

and committed suicide to make his younger brother ascend the throne.
Prince Ôsazaki-no-mikoto grieved over the death of his brother and erected
a shrine in Uji for him. It is the origin of the Uji-gami Jinja Shrine.
Finally, the throne was occupied by prince Ôsazaki-no-mikoto who became
emperor Nintoku.He proved to be an excelent monarch as his brother
Uji-no-waki-iratsuko had believed.

The Tale of Genji - Genji Monogatari - is a classic novel of Japanese
literature, attributed to the noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu, written in the
early eleventh century. It is often called the world's firist novel, in the modern
sense, and at the same time, one of the best classics of all time.

Over more than one thousand years, the Tale of Genji had profound influence
on every genre of arts,pictures, poems and other forms of arts.

From the Meiji Era ( 1868 - 1912 ), several writers translated this classic
work into modern Japanese language. In Modern ages, a couple of foreign
Japanologists translated it into English.

The author depicts, in a flowing and elegant Japanese, the elegant life style
of and the high sensibility towards beauty of the noblemen and noblewomen
during the Heian Period (794-1192) when the noble class was at its height

The chapter of "Morning glory"
of the Tale of Genji

Sasaki Takatsuna was the
first Genji samurai to cross
the Uji River to attack the Heikes,

- 8 -

of power before the emergeance of the powerful samurai class, by developing
a love story of a son of an emperor.

The Tale of Genji is composed of 54 chapters. The last ten chapters is
called "the Ten Chapters of Uji", because the story take place mainly in
beautiful spots of Uji.

Uji City situated south of Kyoto City with the beautiful landscape was the
favorate place for the noblemen in Kyoto to have the resort palaces during
the Heian Period.

The Byôdô-in Temple has the Byôdôin Phoenix Museum where you can see
the masterpieces of the arts of the Heian Period.

Uji was also the battle field many times as it is a gate to enter Kyoto City.

Lady Murasaki Shikibu, author of "Tale of Genji" chose many beautiful
spots of Uji as the scenes in her novel. You can see the splendor of the
life of the noblemen during the Heian Period in the Museum of "Tale of Henji".

©All copyrights reserved - Hiroaki Sasaki - Written on 20th April 2005.
Revised on 2nd May 2007

Searching for the True Uji

Buddhist Temples

The Jodo sect Buddhism ( Pure Land
 Buddhism )
 Official Web. Page

Shinto Shrines :

Wangin Culture Festival
Yeongam, South Jeolla Province, Korea


Every year on the first Sunday of October, Uji Tea ceremony will be held
in Uji. The tea ceremony will be performed in the Kôsei-ji Temple. In the
evening, the Parade of the Ages will start from the "Otabisho" of the
Uji Shrine.