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About Uji-cha Tea Cultural Landscape

“Uji-cha Tea Cultural Landscape”

Yamashiro area of southern Kyoto is the “home of Japanese tea” that created maccha, sencha, and gyokuro representing Japanese tea by improving the production technology of the tea. They have been producing Uji-cha tea for about 700 years.

Concept of the Proposal

This assets represents the cultural scenery indicating the technological innovation, that have generated new green tea such as ※, “Maccha ※”, “Sencha ※, ” and “Gyokuro” that are new to the world via the innovative tea production method including Ohishita-cultivation and Uji production method (Aosei Sencha Seiho), based on the steamed production method originally accepted from China. The production method of Uji-cha tea over 700 years have made a unique scenery, consist of Ohishita-chaen※ that carry-out cultivation of tea leaves and covered with shade to harvest good leaves and Roji-chaen※ developed in the flat or sloped field; tea factory※ for the production of aracha tea leaves※; tea wholesaler※ that makes the finish tea production and Gogumi※, or assembly of tea leaves※, and it still continues to evolve at present. Such techniques have spread all over Japan and played a major roll of the green tea production methods in Japan. For this reason, this asset is an important cultural scenery that cannot be lacking for an understanding of the history of tea in the world and Japan.

Tea originated in China has about 2000 years of history for human consumption. It is still a type of health drink favored in all over the world and is a favorite drink. Tea is said to come to Japan by the 9th century by priests and merchants and created its own drink culture that is good for health.

The production of Japanese tea in Yamashiro area of southern part of Kyoto, can be traced back to the early 14th century, when the production methods including steamed method were introduced from China. The region, since then, being in the good location as a suburb of Kyoto where was the center of politics and culture, as well as a large tea-consuming city, had great natural conditions that are optimal for growing tea and easy to obtain night soil and other fertilizers including rapeseed oil cake produced by and conveyed from the said large city by water transport. By repeating the succession of tradition and innovations, the region became known as the producer of Uji-cha green tea, the top brand that represents Japan, by the mid-15th century at the latest. Then, thanks to the efforts of tea skilled in the art that does not settle for the status, new teas, “Maccha”, “Sencha,” and “Gyokuro” “tea”, “tea”, unique to Japan have been created, which continues to maintain its position until today.

As a result, they developed not only the flat land that is good for growing “maccha”, “sencha”, and “gyokuro”, but also Ohishita-chaen, tea field covered with shade to harvest good leaves developed on hills and riverbed, sencha tea field called Roji chaen developed in the sloped field, villages that included tea farmers and tea factories, and streets of tea wholesalers that utilize the advantage of the land such as water supply had been formulated, which are still continuing now.

Since this asset is a composition asset which consists of various tea fields from the production of various kinds of tea and tea-production-related facilities, it is categorized into a serial property (Group of heritages which has the same history and culture and has a value as a whole).

Also, the production of “maccha” in this area has been supporting tea drinking culture called “Chanoyu” and the production of “sencha” and “gyokuro” has been supporting tea drinking culture called “senchado”. On the other hand, the production of “sencha” generalized the “tea drinking culture that is rooted in their daily life” to brew tea in a kyusu (teapot). As it shows, this area made a large contribution to the formation of green tea drinking culture subjecting all ranks of citizens by producing “maccha”, “sencha”, and “gyokuro”

“The Landscapes of Uji-cha tea production “is one and only cultural scenery of tea leaves that communicates well about the history/culture of Japanese tea production which made its own development as green tea and made contribution for the cultivation of various tea drinking culture related to this from the perspective of “The landscape type that tells important stages of the history of green tea production”, “The land use to characterize the green tea production,” and “The association with the tea culture.”

Keywords concerning revised draft of the proposal concept


The steaming production method  One of the methods to stop the activity of the oxidizing enzyme of the tea. The production method that was conveyed from China to Japan. At present in China, roasting tea in a drier method is the mainstream.
The tea production methods accepted from China, including the steaming production method.   The cultivation method and the production methods of tea told to Japan by China. They can be greatly separated by the following three times China had invented new tea cultures, but nothing is left except for the Encha (culture of steeping tea in hot water to drink the essence) method that was introduced to Japan in Ming dynasty.

Tang Dynasty: Tea culture was conveyed to Japan using the tea leaves cultivated in the open culture, steamed and dried in proofing without being hand-rolled, made solid/power and drank after being boiled in hot water.

Song Dynasty: Tea culture was conveyed to Japan using the tea leaves cultivated in the open air, steamed and dried in proofing without being hand-rolled, made to powder and drank by pouring the powder and hot water in a cup. Thereafter, the current “maccha” using the tea leaves of Ohishita cultivation was invented in Uji region.

Ming Dynasty: Tea culture was conveyed to Japan using tea leaves roasted in a drier while being hand-rolled, dried, and drank by sipping leaves in hot water. Thereafter, passing through the “Momisei senji-cha” using the tea leaves made by the Ming Dynasty method, and roasted while being hand-rolled on the straw mat and dried, and drank after boiled in hot water, “Sencha” made by Uji method was invented, using tea leaves dried in a drier while being hand-rolled.

Ohishita-cultivation  The cultivation method to let the tea leaves shade the light with coating material and grow a sprout. By shading the light it can produce strong taste leaved having bright strong green color. This is a new technology invented at our production site, Uji, which has brought about the new powdered green tea whose taste and color are different from the powdered green tea which came from China. This technique is adopted for “Gyokuro-cha”. A reed and straw have been used for coating material traditionally, but chemical fiber material is mainly used nowadays.
Uji production method (Aosei Sencha Seiho))  The processed tea method which is dried while rubbing by hand the tea leaf in a drier to dry. It is a technique invented at our production site. The Production of green tea by the Uji manufacturing method became a mainstream from the late Edo period to the earlier period of Meiji. Currently mechanization is underway based on the manual process.
Ryokucha green tea  After inactivating the enzymes in the tea leaves by a method such as by steamed or steaming roasted in a drier, to produce them to the conditions which are applicable for drinking in hot water.
Maccha  Tea leaves (Hikicha) cultivated by Ohishita method, which being steamed and dried without being rubbed, then ground by hand-mill to make fine powder. After being put into a cup and poured hot water, stirred by Chasen (tea whisk), served to drink. This is a tea which is indispensable to the tea ceremony.
Sencha  Tea leaves cultivated in the open air with which prepared by the Uji-cha method. Drink leachate by soaking the tea in hot water.
Gyokuro  Tea leaves cultivated in the Ohishita environment (in the light shaded condition) and then processed by the Uji method. Drink the leachate by soaking the tea in hot water. It has a stronger taste than sencha green tea leaves. Currently, it is known as luxury tea.
Ohishita-chaen  Tea plantation where Ohishita cultivation is performed. Tea plantation covered with coated shelves are seen often on plain land and also seen in the riverbed.
Tea plantation in the open air  Tea plantation where cultivation in the open air. Many of them can be seen often in the slope of mountain back in addition to flat land. Until the frost fan was invented many of them were located in a river valley where well-ventilated and less frost damage or where river fog is generated, but since the post-war mechanization increase of production became possible and the tea garden excavated in the mountain area until the top of the mountain. After the spread of riding plucking machine the tea plantations have increased that have been constructed in the plains.
Aracha manufacturing  After steaming the tea leaves, they are dried without being rubbed for maccha, and being rubbed for sencha and gyokuro.
Tea factory  Factory to carry out the Aracha tea processing. A tea factory was built in each tea farmer house, where drying was carried-out by hand operated drier until the mechanization. When the mechanization advanced, introduction of hikicha drier in the maccha factory and mechanism based on the hand rubbing process in the sencha factory have made progress. In recent years, a joint factory system has proceeded.
Finishing tea production  The final step to commercialize the tea. After purification of the rough tea, tea dust such as bars and stems are removed, adjust the appearance of tea leaves by aligning the shape and size, re-dried to prevent the deterioration, and bring out the aroma and the taste by re-burning.
Gogumi, or assembly of tea leaves  It is to combine the different tea leaves that are different in the production area and the production time. Taking advantage of the characteristics of the individual tea leave, make the combined tea suited to the tastes of consumption areas. It corresponds to the blend of tea in the case of black tea.
Tea wholesaler  It purchases Aracha tea leaves from various places, and performs all or either of Gogumi, finishing process, wholesaling/retailing.