The sun was out this morning, so I dragged myself out of my futon, got ready, and rushed to the ATM to find out that I had not been paid yet...darn.  So, I walked back to my apartment, grabbed my train pass and camera and set off to the station to think of a place to go that wouldn't cost too much.

I ended up on a train bound for Kyoto, and then one to Nara, but I got off a bit before that in Uji, the green tea capital of Japan.

I have been to Uji before, but that was ages ago so I thought since it was sunny it would be a nice setting for some pictures, and I could grab some green tea soba for lunch while I was there.

I quickly found that most lunch places were closed - I suppose since it was mid-week they weren't expecting an onslaught of hungry tourists, so I popped into one of the first open restaurants I saw, "Uji Gawa (宇治川)...boy was that a mistake.

After standing awkwardly for several minutes (it was probably only 30 seconds, but when you're the only blonde girl in a place it feels like at least 3 minutes) I was finally able to get someone's attention to ask if I could sit where I wanted since there was no sign anywhere.  I sat down and waited and finally saw a waiter to "sumimasen" them over so I could order.  I ordered tempura soba, and she scurried off.  I waited longer.  I quickly noticed that every other person or group who came in was immediately offered a cup of green tea, a glass of water and a hand towel...not me.  I waited.  Eventually the waitress slid a stray of bright green soba and fresh tempura in front of me, but still no drinks or hand towel.  I caught her attention before she ran off to ask for some water (in Japanese, I even know I said it correctly).  She looked at me and said, "water?" in English.  Uh, yes, that's what I asked for.  I really wanted to snap at her, while you're at it, can I have my tea and a towel, or is that saved for Japanese customers? but I kept that thought to myself.  She came back several minutes later and sloshed a half full glass of water in front of me and scurried off.  I ate my soba quickly, paid, and got the heck out of that place.

If you ever find yourself visiting Japan and decide to go to Uji, DO NOT eat at Uji Gawa, unless you are with a Japanese friend.  I've been treated poorly in Japan on account of not being Japanese before, but I found this place pretty appalling.  The food itself was ok, but not worth 1000 yen, if you ask me!

To make up for my substandard lunch, right next door a very polite, friendly girl sold me this ice cream cone.  It made everything better!

I wandered around a bit more, then hopped back on the train to Kyoto.  I bought myself some pretty pink flowers to add some color to my apartment, and headed back home.

Uji is a nice little town for a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto. As I mentioned, it is Japan's green tea capital, so you can get nice tea, and be sure to try the matcha ice cream!!  There are several famous sites there, one being Byoudou-in, the temple seen on the back of the 10 yen coin...however the main building is under renovations until 2015, so save your entrance fees until then.  If you are familiar with the book The Tale of Genji, a lot of it took place in Uji, so there are many statues and even a museum devoted to the book.

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