Wazuka town (和束町), hidden by mountains, has over 800 years of tea history. The town is 80 km away from Kyoto and in order to get to Wazuka from Kyoto station, it would take around 1 hour by train and another 30 minutes by bus.
According to Wikipedia, Wazuka is mostly a farming town and prides itself in its top quality green tea (said by many connoisseurs of tea to be no. 1 in all of Japan).
In 2015 I was working there as a NICE volunteer from September to December, together with boss Osamu-san and 4 other volunteers (Magda from Poland, Giulia from Italy, Anna and Arina from Russia). In another post I would share in details about this exchange program, how to apply and how wonderful the experience of being a tea farmer is.
Last week, I went back to the village to say hello to Osamu-san and tour around the village to spot the differences compared to the last time I was there. Well it was definitely hotter, and greener.
Vietnam is also a country very famous for tea, ironically I haven’t got the chance to visit any tea plantation in Moc Chau, Thai Nguyen or Lam Dong. This year it would be nice having a short trip to those provinces in November to learn how they grow, harvest and produce teas. And to answer the question of whether hand picking tea leaves would lead to better tea quality or not?
Back to Wazuka, many tea farmers here also own rice fields. Though Wazuka doesn’t have rice paddy arts like Inakadete or rice terraces like our Sapa, the town still has its own alluring charm when the new crop begins and green rice grows.
The trip would be incomplete without a visit to Wazuka Sport Park, where the Chagenkyo Matsuri is organised annually.
Wazuka town is a discovery off the beaten track that I would recommend to people who want to get away from crowded tourist spots of Kyoto. As one of the most beautiful villages in Japan, Wazuka does live up to its reputation by having beautiful scenery all year around: awakening pink in spring with cherry blossoms along the rivers, rich green in summer with tea and rice fields, seductive red in autumn with falling maple leaves and pure white in winter with occasional snowflakes.
So, Wazuka… Looking forward to seeing you in spring and winter.