Publicado el

Visit of Uji – most famous tea prefecture – and surprising sushi dinner

Today we visited Uji, which is very close by Kyoto. Almost everybody in Japan refers to the famous teas of Uji, which is a relatively small tea plantation area and most famous for it’s high quality Matcha. We are lucky that we go there accompanied by Toshi san, who is importing Niepoort wines to Japan. He is a tea lover and his wife’s family are tea producers. So we go straight to Namakura Tokichi Honten, which he considers the best tea producer and shop in Uji. After trying their house blend, we take some of it and a very nice looking Kabuse Sencha as well as Premium Kukicha Karigane Quality.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As we go more to the centre of Uji, we are getting overwhelmed by the lots and lots of teashops. There many Japanese students around and even more tourists. The only thing that helps us, not getting lost, was to look at the distance, where we see the beautiful Uji mountains, knowing that on the other side there is the tea plantations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After visiting the temple we have lunch in a teahouse. Green Matcha Soba Noodles with vegetables and for desert a very delicate Matcha with a perfect foam and the traditional Matcha sweet, which is not too sweet (cha dango).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the evening we have a very surprising sushi dinner at an almost private house with sushi chef Masashi Ohtani, who also is a sommelier and big burgundy fan. We are more than lucky, as nobody else is there and he spends a lot of time with us explaining every single of the very delicate sushis.

05 Sushi

Besides the excellent quality of the sushi he is able to make the most perfect matches of wine and sushi. The white burgundy (Meursault Genevriere 1995, Francois Jobard) is matching perfectly with the noble white fishes. Also are very happy to see that Ohtani san really likes the Turis 2012 we brought from Douro… even so much that he is opening a wonderful red burgundy for us from his private cellar (G. Roumier Chambolle Musigny 2001). Both are going very well along with the tuna nigiri. At the end we have a Japanese friend more we hope to see again in Portugal.

06 Tomodachi

Publicado el

Visit of Katsura Rikyu and tea pottery

Today a dream became true. Since some years ago I have visited a photograph exhibition at the Japan Foundation in Cologne/Germany, I was dreaming of one day visiting Katsura Rikyu (Katsura Imperal Villa). As today we are coming closer to it, I am asking myself if I will get disappointed seeing the buildings in reality as the photographs of Japanese star photographers have been so wonderful. But already walking along the bamboo fence and reaching the entrance gate, I know that this is even getting better than in my dreams.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We are very lucky, right the moment we enter the famous garden the sun comes out and here and than sends a little light on the million details of the garden and constructions. Katsura Rikyu was completed 1615 as a tasteful and simple summer residence for Prince Toshihito. It is the emblematic building of the tea style architecture (Shoin), which just uses natural materials of the surrounding environment. The very simple but at the same time very effective architecture inspired our day star architects like Mies van der Rohe and became the basis of the minimalistic architecture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At Katsura Rikyu three villas and numerous tea houses in different styles are arranged in a beautiful garden, which stretches around a lake. It was taken a lot of care, with every step you have a new sight on the buildings and the garden is opening up. Through the garden leads a path with big rocks, someone has to walk carefully with the intention to concentrate on the way to the teahouse. The biggest and most important teahouse Shokintei has a very small entrance, visitors must hunch over to pass through the interior. This is very common in traditional teahouses, because in old times samurai that way were forced  to leave there sword outside. Until today the gesture of passing the small entrance on the knees has the intention to show, that every visitor is equal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The next teahouse is Shokatei, a mountain teahouse, build on the highest point of elevation of the garden with a view to the Kyoto surrounding mountains.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Than comes Shoiken, a country-style-teahouse and finally Gepparo, which is build above the shore of the pond. It’s intention is to watch the full moon light reflecting on the water. Almost drunk of the beautiful garden and the stunning architectonical details, we walk out the Katsura Rikyu. The whole day I will have backflashs of what I have seen in the morning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Later we walk into some potteries close to Shichijo Station and finally we find one which really has very special ceramics from father and son. After buying some nice pieces, they offer us a very delicious Sencha. When we ask to see the leaves, he shows us a copper tin box, which is beautifully aged with a measuring spoon also made out of copper. Asking where to get those, he indicates us the way. Later we arrive at the Kaikado shop, where the different tins, aged for different periods are beautifully arranged. The older they get, the more beautiful they are. This is the secret of japans estetics. Another secret of Kaikado is, that if there is something wrong with the tin, they fix it for free, the whole lifespan of the tin… you have to consider, that Kaikado exists since 1875 and many tines within families are handed over for decades. It does so good to see how handcraft is taken serious in Japan until today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA