As the new season approaches, I had the pleasure last week to go to and Ujitawara Uji, near Kyoto.
Here in Uji, the Asahi-yaki workshop. Along the river Ujigawa on the shore opposite to that of Byôdô-in. 10min walk from JR station and 5 minutes from the Keihan train station.
The excellent hôhin, samashi and cups by Asahi-yaki are available on Thés du Japon.
Ujitawara is reputed to be the place where Nagatani Sôen developed the method for hand rolling and drying steamed sencha in 1738. (It is an isolated area, difficult to access without a car.)
This is where he and his descendants would have lived, but the house (which is open to the public only on weekends) is no longer the original. It was built to protect the remains of the hoiro that Nagatani Sôen would have used. (A hoiro is a paper-covered surface that is heated from underneath and used for rolling and drying tea leaves during the temomi process.)
Next door is a small shrine erected to the glory of Sôen, passed to deity status for farmer and tea merchants. We see engraved on marble blocks the important contributor’s name: big wholesalers or tea shops chain company.
Offering of few coins, clap in hands, bow, and 2015 should be a great year for Thés du Japon thanks to Sôen’s soul !