Japan. Travel futures and logs!

Culture, language, tangibles, intangibles from countries known for tea

Re: Japan. Travel futures and logs!

Postby rdl » Mar 25th, '15, 14:02

I've been to these:
In Uji,
Tsuen, easy to find at the base of Uji bridge.
https://www.facebook.com/TsuenTeaInternational
also (from japan-guide.com)
"A short walk from Byodoin Temple is Taihoan, a public tea house which offers visitors the opportunity to participate in an authentic tea ceremony at a very reasonable price. In a traditional tea house setting, guests are served matcha (powdered green tea), and the host gladly shares about the correct tea ceremony etiquette.

Across the river from Taihoan, Fukujuen Ujicha Kobo is a workshop that offers various tea related hands-on activities such as matcha grinding classes, in which participants can learn how to prepare their own tea. The experience concludes with a tasting session whereby participants make and drink tea from the powdered tea leaves which they have prepared. Advance reservations are not required. The building also contains a restaurant which serves tea and tea related meals and snacks."
and, a large tea shop/restaurant on the main street going to the river. Hard to miss, very popular. I'll post the name when I recall it.*** I got it, Nakamura Tokichi Honten
http://www.tokichi.jp/english/stores/index.html
Maiko Tea I have never been to but worth the effort to visit.
In Kyoto, http://www.marukyu-koyamaen.co.jp/engli ... index.html
In Hiroshima and Osaka I had incredible coffee. But off-hand I can't think of tea places. Except for the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum. You can visit the galleries, beautiful garden and the tea room there.
Enjoy your travels!

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Re: Japan. Travel futures and logs!

Postby chingwa » Mar 28th, '15, 07:14

Also of note, since you'll be right in the area, I recommend a visit to Himeji castle... just a 20 minute train ride from Osaka... It has recently undergone a multi-year restoration and just opened up to the public again this week :)

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Re: Japan. Travel futures and logs!

Postby jayinhk » Apr 3rd, '15, 00:37

I'm off to Okinawa at the end of the month and would like to pick up some shincha. So far it seems Jusco in Naha might be my best bet. Anyone have any suggestions for tea sources?

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Re: Japan. Travel futures and logs!

Postby KaiRong » Apr 16th, '15, 09:46

Thanks for the advice :) In the end, I didn't go to Uji, unfortunately the weather near Kyoto was very bad for doing long outdoor programs. But I had some nice bowls of matcha in Kyoto :)

I can also recommend two places: Cha cha no ma is a great tearoom with very knowledgeable tea sommeliers in Tokyo's Shibuya district. It's not too easy to find the place, but it worth the efforts. I drank a sencha there (called Aoi Tori) and also bought a pack of sencha (Sakuya), both were very delicious, they're among my best sencha experience. The place is quite small with six small tables, but the decoration was very nice.

Ippodo's Tokyo shop/tearoom is also a great one, I drank a very sweet and fresh gyokuro called Kanro. Staff speaks quite good English, they can give you info on the different kind of teas.

I stocked up on a lot of matcha/gyokuro, now I even fear that I won't have a chance to drink them all in the next six months :D I bought 40 grams of Koyamaen's Aoarashi, Isuzu, Chigi no Shiro, Yugen, Wako, Kinrin and Sanyu no Shiro, 20 grams of Koyamaen's Choan and Harukasumi, 30 grams of a smaller brand's matcha, and also some gyokuros, both from Koyamaen (Tensho, Mizuyama), Ippodo's Kakurei and other smaller producers' gyokuro.

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Re: Japan. Travel futures and logs!

Postby tenoh271 » May 5th, '15, 23:45

Tea Wares Browsing in Tokoname City , Aichi Prefecture and home of Banko-yaki, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture:

For those landing in Chubu Airport, Nagoya, and have some time - between half a day to one full day - to spare, Tokoname City would be a nice place to spend some time in if ceramic wares are of interest.

They have a strolling path through the old quarter of ceramic production; small paths weaving through old buildings, small galleries and residences, with chimney stacks dotting the hillside, and an old climbing kiln
(noborigama) being the highlight of the stroll. While many shops sell mass-produced ceramic items, a few small galleries specialise in Tokoname artisan wares, with some focusing on the famed Tokoname Kyusus.

The Maneki-Neko Street where artisan-made (some non-Japanese) Maneki-Neko of all shapes and styles were mounted on a concrete slope is worth a visit. Adorable and fun! :)

There is also a Ceramic Mall located a bit away from the city centre where many Tokoname wares, from flower pots, tableware to Kyusus can be found. This Ceramic Mall is a curious mix of retail shops and office-cum-warehouse space. Good for a one-stop shopping excursion.

While not on the same level as other more famous tourist areas in Japan, Tokonama City is a lovely place for those looking for artisan-made Kyusus and a simple stroll through winding paths which might end in a beautiful garden and cozy gallery.


On the other end, Yokkaichi City might not be worth the visit for short-term tourists, unless you have arranged a visit with one of the artisan kilns there, or planning to get a few Banko-yaki Kyusus as gifts/souvenirs or personal use. :wink:

Reflecting its industrial base, there is not much tourist attraction sites in Yokkaichi related to pottery aside from the Banko-Yaki-No-Sato ceramic centre a station away from the main Yokkaichi train station.

The ceramic centre itself is minimalist and slightly provincial, showcasing mainly commercial Banko wares, with only a few artisan made purple clay Kyusus here and there. The only major plus point I could think of is the fact that they give a 20% discount on items sold there. :D (They have a sister centre in Yokkaichi City proper which doesn't have the same discount).

All in all, it has been a lovely trip to two well-known Kyusu production areas in Japan. One I am hoping to repeat again in the not-far-off future. Peace.

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Re: Japan. Travel futures and logs!

Postby john.b » May 11th, '15, 04:48

Greetings! I was just in Japan last month so I'll mention a bit about there, related to tea. Really it's a bit bizarre to be posting about it on a forum like this because I'm not particularly into Japanese green tea (I drink different teas, just not that), and didn't try to explore it at all on that trip. I'll get back to it--I drank Japanese green tea more years ago, and Japanese grocery stores in Bangkok sell lots of it anyway--but since it wasn't a tea vacation I tried to pick up some unusual teas that weren't green in passing, matching my current general preferences more. Our main destination in Japan was the Tokyo Disneyland, and we were doing a strange multi-country trip where we split nearly two weeks between Yokohama, Japan and Seoul, Korea (both countries we'd been to before, or else logistics would've been a nightmare; everything isn't in English both places).

To make a long story medium length I discovered hojicha and tried wakoucha, roasted green tea and Japanese black tea (which also goes by koucha or kocha). Hojicha is interesting, and it will be nice to drink through it sorting out how I feel about it. The black tea wasn't particularly nice, but then picking up one tea at random without trying it first isn't a good way to get a feel for a new tea type. I tend to pick up teas at random in different countries (I live in Bangkok and travel in Asia some), and even if it doesn't work out sometimes it leads to trying something else better later, and sometimes really nice teas just turn up out of nowhere.

One odd part of the trip was walking through the Yokohama Chinatown looking for tea (short on time there too, so not much walking). The staff in the one shop we stopped in was surprised I was asking about Japanese tea because being there they only sold Chinese tea. They had some decent looking mid-grade range teas I couldn't pass by due to the reasonable pricing so I bought some wuyi yancha, lapsang souchong, and pu'er there, which seemed odd. All were decent, to my taste preferences on par with the other teas I bought, most others for much more, although the variances in quality levels was evident.

The moral of the whole story might be that it takes time in addition to some research to find nice teas. Chance can steer you right past a great shop but with more reading up and a half a day to wander you stack the deck in your favor. I had spent a crazy amount of time researching tea sourcing in Seoul the week prior but I just couldn't get around to two countries worth of review, and I'd hoped Japanese tea shops would be all over the place, like in China. Sort of, but not exactly. It's nice that essentially all teas are available online, although there are exceptions to that.

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Re: Japan. Travel futures and logs!

Postby rdl » May 12th, '15, 07:25

tenoh271 wrote:Tea Wares Browsing in Tokoname City , Aichi Prefecture and home of Banko-yaki, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture:

tenoh271,
I've never made it to Tokoname, but if and when, I'll re-read your post. Thanks for the useful information.

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