Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 1 Part 2 The Japanese Tea Fields

I am heading back to Japan's lovely tea fields.  It is such a pleasure to share this with you especially in light of the recent tragedies...

After studying tea harvesting and initial processing and then a wonderful lunch experience in Shizouka, we headed to some tea gardens. All along our drive, we viewed tea being grown on the sides of the steep green hills. Can you see the tea on the hills?  This area of Japan is quite beautiful.

We arrived at this lovely tea garden to tour. Every nook and cranny had been planted with tea plants. There wasn't any space wasted. The tea fields went straight up to the house and alongside the garage with rock walls used as retaining walls holding in the soil. Because the plants are machine harvested, do you notice how manicured the tea plants look?  It was stunning. 

You might be wondering about the aprons you see me and others wearing on the trip. We had separate ones for each country. They came in quite handy with the big pocket. Each of us was given a notebook so we could carefully log down what we were being taught and the pocket was just the right size for the notebook and my camera! In fact, I have referred to my notebook quite a bit while blogging about my trip.

I took some time by myself to enjoy the garden and meandered around.  I discovered at the top of the tea garden was a small outdoor temple-like structure.  It was such an interesting building, I felt compelled to go in to discover more.

As I walked up the pathway, I was intrigued with what I saw.  There were lovely statuary pillars at either side of the entrance. Inside the small outdoor building, tea branches hung around some sort of alter-like structure underneath the roof.  I was told later that this was a memorial.  On this stretch of road alongside the tea garden, there have been many accidents from travelers.  So, the local people built this memorial on top of the hill to have their souls rest peacefully and peaceful it is!  I guess it would be similar in thought to the crosses we see in the USA where people have passed away. 

From inside the memorial, you could view the tea gardens. It was so peaceful to be at the top of the hill and overlooking the tea fields. What would have made the moment perfect would have been a cup of tea.  Wouldn't you agree?
Unfortunately we had to leave the garden.  As we were gathering to walk back to our bus, this lovely elderly woman, who was a resident of the house and relative of our guide Mr. Yamanashi, approached our group.  She was carrying handmade gifts for us.  She told us that she was in her 90's and that she was a teacher at a senior center in the area.  She taught others how to do this form of origami.  She recycles old brochures and papers into beautiful things such as the umbrellas like the ones she is carrying in her hand. 

I was so honored that she would give one to me.  It even made it home safely on the plane without being crushed. I now have it hanging in my home office.  I am delighted every time I look at it, as it is a reminder of the gracious lady and her beautiful tea gardens!
With gift in hand,  we headed back to the hotel. We were on our own to eat dinner that night.  A couple of my girlfriends and I shopped and hunted for a place to eat.  It was interesting to find something as none of us spoke Japanese and not many Japanese in that area spoke English. We ended up eating at a place that had pictures on the menu so we could point out what we wanted!!!

Along this fun and lively shopping area, we noticed two Starbucks within a very short walking distance.  You might find it interesting that their menu is slightly different to cater to their market.  Hojicha (to refresh your memory on Hojicha) is served as a latte, hot tea and iced tea within all the Japanese market.

I hope you will continue to travel with me.  Day 2 is going to be fun as we head to some processing plants-one of them is a Hojicha plant and the famous "Shizouka tea auction."  You might find it interesting how they "calculate and seal their deal."

Happy Sipping and Reminiscing, Lisa


  1. Your trip was such a treasure. Loved the gift of the umbrella from that lady. Your picture from the memorial looking out at the tea garden is beautiful.

  2. Yes, Marilyn, the trip was a treasure and I do LOVE my umbrella!

  3. Oh I do so enjoy your travelogues. It helps me to feel as if I have visiting these places I so long to go. Thank you.

  4. Dearest Lisa,

    What a gracious elderly lady for being able still to make such perfect crafts from recycled material! You enjoyed it, one can tell.
    Japan is such a beautiful and clean country with gentle and very respectful people.

    Lots of love,