Architectural, Cultural sights in Kyoto
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Another stop for a taste of Uji’s famed green tea is Tsūen-jaya, located just across from the station. Japan’s oldest surviving tea shop, Tsūen-jaya has been in the Tsūen family for more than 830 years. The present building, near Uji-bashi, dates from 1672 and is full of interesting antiques. You can try fresh matcha (powered green tea), including a sweet, for ¥680.
Shimabara, a district northwest of Kyoto Station, was Kyoto’s original pleasure quarters. At its peak during the Edo period (1600–1867) the area flourished, with more than 20 enormous ageya – magnificent banquet halls where artists, writers and statesmen gathered in a ‘floating world’ ambience of conversation, art and fornication. Geisha were often sent from their okiya (living quarters) to entertain patrons at these restaurant-cum-brothels. By the start of the Meiji period, however, such activities had drifted north to the Gion district and Shimabara had lost its prominence. Though the traditional air of the district has dissipated, a few old structures remain.…