Kyoto : The Phoenix in Uji

Byodo-in 平等院 - Phoenix Hall 鳳凰堂

31st May 2011. Written by Xin Li.
Kyoto, Japan
It was my third time visiting this town located south of Kyoto well known for its green tea.


Ujigami-jinja 宇治上神社


Just a train ride away from Kyoto, Uji is a must-visit for any visitor to Kyoto.

Uji 宇治


Located in Uji is the Ujigami Jinja, an ancient Shinto shrine.

Ujigami-jinja 宇治上神社


Some believed it is the oldest in Japan.

Ujigami-jinja 宇治上神社


The temple was originally built as a guardian shrine for the Byodo-in.

Ujigami-jinja 宇治上神社


The Byodo-in 平等院 ,was built in 998 AD during the Heian period. The temple is a well-known national icon as it is featured on the 10 Yen coin.

Byodo-in 平等院 - Phoenix Hall 鳳凰堂


Originally a private residence, the Byodo-in’s role changed in 1052 was converted into a temple by a member of the Fujiwara Clan.

Byodo-in 平等院


Upon entry to the Byodo-in (600 Yen, 0830 – 1730), the first feature of the temple comes into a plan, one of the few existing examples of Japanese Pure Land Gardens.

Byodo-in 平等院 - Phoenix Hall 鳳凰堂


The entire scenic area surrounding the temple was a representation of the Western Paradise on earth.

Byodo-in 平等院 - Phoenix Hall 鳳凰堂


In the center of all these, is the famous Phoenix Hall, one of the few surviving and exemplary pieces of Heian architecture. The hall was built with the sole purpose of housing the Amida Buddha image and the roofs were adorned with bronze phoenixes. The hall cost an additional 300 Yen to enter.

Byodo-in 平等院 - Byodo-in Museum Hoshokan


Another feature of the temple is the Byodo-in Museum Hoshokan built into the terrain.

Byodo-in 平等院 - Byodo-in Museum Hoshokan


Designed by Akira Kuryu as an abstract representation of Byodoin’s main hall, the building blends into the landscape in order to achieve a harmony between the historical landscape of the Byodo-in and the contemporary architecture of the museum.

Byodo-in 平等院 - Byodo-in Museum Hoshokan


The museum houses a number of national treasures such as the Byodo-in Temple Bell, one of the most in Japan for its unconventional design during its time.

Byodo-in 平等院 - Byodo-in Museum Hoshokan


Equally mesmerizing is the 52 beautifully crafted wooden Worshiping Bodhisattvas on Clouds.

Byodo-in 平等院 - Byodo-in Museum Hoshokan


Photography is not allowed in the museum, which is a pity.

Uji 宇治


While in Uji, how can you not indulge in some tea? I dropped by Kanbayashi 三星園 上林三入本店 for a snack.

Kanbayashi 三星園 上林三入本店 - Interior


I had a Uji Kangetsu (650 Yen), vanilla ice cream topped with matcha powder and served with mocha and azuki beans as well as a cup of fine tea.

Kanbayashi 三星園 上林三入本店 - Uji Kangetsu


The matcha go very well with the vanilla ice cream but I was hoping for a matcha ice cream.

Kanbayashi 三星園 上林三入本店 - Uji Kangetsu


A snack I enjoyed very much during a hot weather.

Ujigami-jinja 宇治上神社


The town of Uji is also very well-known for its link with the world’s oldest novel, the Tale of Genji.

Uji-eki 宇治駅 (Keihan)


FROM KYOTO STATION : Uji is easily accessible via train from Kyoto. From Kyoto Station, you could take the JR train to Uji on the Nara line. The ride takes about half an hour and cost 230 Yen.

Uji-eki 宇治駅 (Keihan)


FROM KEIHAN LINE (GION/DEMACHIYANAGI/ SANJO) : Alternatively, if you do not stay around Kyoto Station, you could take a train from Demachiyanagi, Gion-Shijo, Sanjo or Shichijo on the Keihan Main Line. Then transit at Chushojima and take a train to Uji on the Keihan Uji Line. The train ride takes about 26-30 minutes and cost 300 Yen.

Uji-eki 宇治駅 (Keihan)


Compared to the JR station in Uji, the Uji Keihan Train Station has more character.

Uji-eki 宇治駅 (Keihan)


The building was designed by Wakabayashi Hiroyuki, the designer of the Rapi:t express train that links Osaka Namba Station with Kansai International Airport.


Uji-eki 宇治駅 (Keihan)



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