Kyoto Uji Sightseeing Map

History of Uji

History of Uji

The city of Uji is rich in both historical and cultural resources that include world heritages, such as Ujikami Shrine and Byodoin Temple, and the beautiful sight of Ujigawa River that keeps streaming after 1,000 years.
Sometimes as a battlefield, and at other times as a center of cultures, Uji has always been closely associated with the Japanese history.
Historic remains in Uji City pass on the breath of each period and attract us to travel back in time and experience the history and culture of Uji City.

History of Uji

From long before, Uji was an important location even politically.
It has been told that Ujinowaki Iratsuko, an Imperial prince, killed himself to hand over the Imperial throne to his brother, the Emperor Nintoku, following the demise of the Emperor Oujin in the early 5th century when the foundation of the Yamato Government was almost complete. Ujinowaki Iratsuko’s imperial villa is said to have been built around where Ujikami Shrine and Uji Shrine are today.

After the Ujibashi Bridge was built in the mid-7th century, Uji played an important role in history as a point that connects Nara, Kyoto and Shiga through both land and water.Once known as an embodiment of the Buddhist Paradise that presented the splendid dynastic culture and Fujiwara’s villa in the Heian Era, the sight of Byodoin Hoo-do is well-preserved in today’s world.

Uji makes an appearance in many Japanese literature, such as Man’yoshu and the Tale of Heike, and is widely recognized as the setting of “Uji Jujo”, the third chapter in the “Tale of Genji”.

As the social system shifted from nobles to samurais, the battle between The troops of MINAMOTO Yoshinaka (also known for his other name, KISO Yoshinaka) and The troops of MINAMOTO Yoshitsune occurred, one particular scene of which is known as the “Fight for the vanguard in Ujigawa River” today. Even after that, many battles, such as “Yamashiro-no-kuni-ikki (the riot in Yamashiro Province) that is believe to have implemented the first self-government in Japan and the Battle of the Makishima Castle that led to the end of the Muromachi Shogunate, occurred around Ujigawa River.

In the Kamakura Era, Myoe from Toganoosan Kosanji Temple brought tea to Uji. Uji prospered as a tea-producing district under the protection of ODA Nobunaga and TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi. Even after the center of politics moved to Edo, Uji Tea has always been valued highly as high-grade tea.

In the Edo Era, Koushoji Temple and Manpukuji Temple were built, and Uji contributed to the development of symbolic Japanese culture, such as “Sado (the way of tea)” and “Zen”.

Chronological Table of Uji History

Early 5th Century Ujinowaki Iratsuko establishes the Uji Imperial Villa.  
645 The Taika Reforms.  
646 The Ujibashi Bridge, one of the most ancient bridges in Japan, is built. The Ujibashi Bridge,
Hashi-dera Temple
694 The capital transfers to Fujiwara-kyo.  
710 The capital transfers to Heijo-kyo.  
Mid-8th Century Compilation of Man’yoshu (the earliest anthology of waka-poems). Man’youkahi (a moment inscribed with poems)
794 The capital transfers to Heian-kyo.  
941 Matafuri Shrine is built to console the vengeful spirit of FUJIWARA Tadafumi. Matafuri Shrine
Early 11th Century Murasaki Shikibu writes the Tale of Genji. Uji Jujo Koseki (historic remains)
1052 FUJIWARA Yorimichi builds Byodoin temple based on what used to be his villa and holds Agata Shrine as a guardian deity. Byodoin Temple,
Agata Shrine
1053 Byodoin Amidado (Hoo-do(Phoenix Hall)) was completed.  
1102 Shirakawa Konjiki-in Temple is built by FUJIWARA Yorimichi’s daughter, Kanshi. Konjiki-in site
Mid-12th Century The Kannon belief becomes popular and Mimuroto-ji Temple propers as the tenth holy place of the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage (33 holy places total). Mimuroto-ji Temple
1184 The troops of MINAMOTO Yoshitune defeat the troops of MINAMOTO Yoshinaka (also known for his other name, KISO Yoshinaka) on Ujigawa River. The fight between SASAKI Takatsuna and KAJIWARA Kagesue over the vanguard in Ujigawa River occurs.
Ujigawa-Senjin-no-hi (a monument for the Fight for the vanguard in Ujigawa River.)
1191 Eisai brings back tea seeds from the Song Dynasty.  
Early 13th Century Myoe, a monk from Kosanji Temple, delivers tea to Uji.  
1286 Eizon, a monk from Saidaiji Temple, reconstructs the Ujibashi Bridge and builds the thirteen-story stone pagoda. Hashidera Temple,
the thirteen-story stone pagoda
1336 The Muromachi Shogunate is established.  
Early 14th Century Uji Tea acquires reputation as a high-grade brand of tea.  
1573 The Muromachi Shogunate falls. ASHIKAGA Yoshiaki surrenders to ODA Nobunaga at the Makishima Castle. Makishima Castle Ruins
Late 16th Century The Fushimi Castle is built. Taikotsutsumi (riverbank) is built and changes the river route of the Ujigawa River.  
1603 The Edo Shogunate is established.  
1648 NAGAI Naomasa, the castellan of the Yodo Castle, reconstructs Koushoji Temple. Koushoji Temple
1661 Ingen, a monk, finds Obakusan Manpukuji Temple. Obakusan Manpukuji Temple
1868 Foundation of the Meiji Government.  
1951 Uji is incorporated as a city.  
1964 Amagase Dam is built. Amagase Dam
1994 Ujikami Shrine and Byodoin Temple become world heritages. Ujikami Shrine,
Byodoin Temple
1996 Opening of Uji City Botanical Park. Uji City Botanical Park
1998 Opening of the Tale of Genji Museum. the Tale of Genji Museum
2001 Opening of Byodoin Museum Hoshokan. Byodoin Temple

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