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Visiting the Wazuka Tea Plantation Near Kyoto
If you are a fan of tea, specifically green tea, then you’ll love visiting the Wazuka tea plantation near Kyoto. This area is home to some of the finest matcha in Japan and is responsible for half of the green tea production in the Kyoto Prefecture.
Not only is this small town important for its tea, but it is also very picturesque and offers a variety of unique activities you can enjoy as a day trip from Kyoto, Osaka, or Nara. While visiting, make sure you go on a guided tour of one of the tea farms where you can pick your own tea leaves, attend a traditional tea ceremony, or learn how to cook with Japanese green tea!
Where is Wazuka?
Wazuka is located in the southern Kyoto Prefecture (not to be confused with the city of Kyoto). It is a small town with around 5,000 people residing there. As I said earlier, the tea plantations in Wazuka grow nearly half of all green tea production in the Kyoto Prefecture, so it goes without saying that tea is a big deal here. In fact, there are over 800 years of history in these tea fields.
When is the Best Time to Visit Wazuka?
The best time to visit the Wazuka tea plantation is from May until August because that is when you can see the tea leaves best. In May the tea leaves are more of a golden yellow-green color but as the weather gets hotter they become bright, vibrant green. We visited in early-July and found that the tea leaves were a mix of bright green and yellow. The weather was also hot, but manageable – though we were there on a cloudy day!
How to Get to the Wazuka Tea Plantation
When we were driving in Japan we decided to stop by the Wazuka tea plantation on our way to Nara because it was an easy detour! However, you can visit easily from Kyoto or Osaka too. In my opinion, the best way to get to the Wazuka tea plantation is to drive because they are located in a small rural town. However, there are some tours that will take you to the tea farms from Kyoto and there is public transportation that will get you there as well.
Traveling to Wazuka from Kyoto by Train
If traveling from Kyoto you can take the Miyakoji Nara Rapid Service train from Kyoto Station to JR Kizu Station. Then take the Yamatoji Rapid Service train to JR Kamo Station. From Kamo Station go to the Kamoeki Bus Stop with service going to the Wazukayamanoie Bus Stop (about 11 stops total). The trip takes about 1 hour 30 minutes and costs approximately ¥1,260.
Traveling to Wazuka from Osaka by Train
From Osaka take the Yamatoji Rapid Service train to JR Kamo Station. Then go to the Kamoeki Bus Stop with service going to the Wazukayamanoie Bus Stop (about 11 stops total). The journey takes about 1 hour 30 minutes and costs approximately ¥1,480.
Experiencing the Wazuka Tea Plantation & Things to Do in Wazuka
There are many different activities that you can enjoy during your visit to the Wazuka tea plantation. Although you can tour on foot, you can also rent e-bikes from one of the local cafes so you’re able to explore more areas!
When you get there make sure you take a moment to enjoy the view of the tea leaves from the road above! The meticulously placed rows of green leaves honestly look like a piece of captivating artwork. Because of the serene view of the tea, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in Japan and was even designated as the first Scenic Property of Kyoto Prefecture.
Also, it is important to note that while the Wazuka tea plantations offer tours, they are still privately owned farms. The tea produced here is the resident’s livelihood so please be respectful when visiting. Don’t trespass on parts of the property that are outside of the tour and make sure to not touch the tea unless your tour allows you to pick some! 🙂
Go On A Guided Tea Plantation Tour
The Wazuka tea plantation is made up of three large farms including Harayama Tea Plantation which is the oldest tea plantation in Wazuka, the Ishitera Tea Plantation which is the most popular to visit, and Kamatsuka Tea Plantation which is located on many rolling hills!
If you have the time, scheduling a guided tour of one of the tea farms is by far the best way to enjoy Wazuka. A tour is informative, interesting, and fun – telling each guest about the tea that is grown in this area and its significance. Most guided tours are about 2-5 hours and allow you to pick tea leaves, visit a tea factory, and taste the green tea grown here at various different harvest times, which changes the flavor of the tea.
A Few Guided Tea Plantation Tours We Recommend
Attend A Tea Ceremony
Being able to experience a traditional tea ceremony is definitely a Japan bucket list item. In Wazuka, you can do this in an intimate setting with the tea harvested right from the fields you’ll see and walkthrough.
Typically when attending a Japanese tea ceremony it is a more formal event where you can dress up in a kimono or yukata while learning the history of the ceremony rituals prior to enjoying your tea. After, a host will either make a cup of matcha for you or allow you to prepare it yourself with guidance.
Visit A Local Cafe
If you don’t have time for a tour, then I highly recommend visiting one of the small cafes in Wazuka that have a variety of matcha flavored snacks and sweets. You can find cafes all over the town but here are a few we recommend!
Sky Cafe Wazuka
Sky Cafe Wazuka is a small cafe that resembles a treehouse! It allows you to reserve the entire space for one hour for only 500 yen. Inside the cafe, you can sip on your tea while overlooking the tea fields where your tea was carefully cared for. You also receive a few traditional Japanese sweets to enjoy with your tea.
Location: Shishigaguchi Shirasu, Wazuka, Soraku District, Kyoto 619-1222, Japan // MAP
Hours: 10am-5pm daily
d:matcha has a tour experience plus tea tastings with small plates, snacks, and sweets available to purchase making it a great place to stop for lunch. While we didn’t take a tour with d:matcha, we’ve heard nothing but positive remarks! If you’re looking for an all-inclusive approach (tour, meal, etc) then d:matcha is a great tour to book!
Location: Kyomachi-17 Kamatsuka, Wazuka, Soraku District, Kyoto 619-1212, Japan // MAP
Hours: 11am-4pm daily
Wazukacha Cafe (Wazuka Tea Cafe) is one of the most popular cafes in the area. The menu has a large variety of teas and sweets to choose from at very reasonable prices. While I love matcha, hojicha is a roasted green tea that Logan and I both love as well.
Wazukacha Cafe has some yummy sweets made with powdered hojicha including a Swiss roll cake and a parfait. If you decide to visit Wazukacha Cafe I also recommend purchasing some tea and/or sweets to take with you!
Location: Japan, 〒619-1222 Kyoto, Soraku District, Wazuka, Shirasu, Ohazama−３５ // MAP
Hours: 10am-5pm daily
Purchase Tea to Take Home
Before leaving Wazuka make sure you purchase some tea to take with you! It makes a great souvenir and it is something you can enjoy at home to remember your trip. You can purchase tea from Wazuka on some tea plantation tours or in a local cafe. But there are also local tea stores that are typically located near the cafes you can purchase from too. 🙂
Wazuka is an interesting off-the-beaten-path activity that is perfect to add to your Nara itinerary or as a Kyoto day trip!