What is Chagenkyo?
Celebrating the long history of tea cultivation in Kyoto, the Chagenkyo Matsuri is a festival that has taken place annually for over 30 years. Located in the town of Wazuka, visitors can enjoy great tea and cultural education in a scenic location.Wazuka was one of the first places chosen to cultivate tea after it was imported from China over 800 years ago.
This year, Yunomi had the opportunity to attend this exciting event. The event was held over the course of a weekend and included many different activities such as various food vendors, tea ceremonies and tutorials, as well as farm tours and children’s games.
Spending the day at the festival meant having the chance to try plenty of unusual tea based concoctions. My first stop was a shop offering matcha cream coffee. It was a delicious combination of two unlikely flavors.
The stand also sold several Japanese confectioneries made with sweet rice and red beans. The friendly staff recommended purchasing the coffee and sweets as a set because the sweets are enhanced by the matcha flavor.
Next I followed the line of stalls only to fall upon an unlikely face. An American whisking up alcoholic green tea matcha beverages. His drinks were delicious and unique. Highly recommended.
We ordered Yuzu Matcha and Amaretto Matcha drinks. Although they look similar, they taste very different.
Along the way, I stopped by a stand collecting money to help Syrian citizens. They had “Stop Killing in Syria” signs and photos of support from many celebrities. The vendors said they’ve been participating in the festivities for the last four years.
One shop from Nara sold bamboo handmade utensils. This vendor travels to Kyoto to see their goods annually at the festival. Visitors can buy tea tools such as whisks and spoons. The stall also sold good unrelated to tea like the flower vase pictured below.
Hand dyed fabrics and accessories are displayed at one vendor. Dyes were created from tea, persimmon, and other natural ingredients. Kakishibu fabrics have recently gained the recognition they deserve in the fashion industry. These fabrics have antibacterial properties and are a symbol of Japanese culture.
Tea Tasting & Tours
Of course, no tea festival would be complete without tea tasting. Japanese teas were displayed along with unusual teas from around the world.
Local farms offered visitors the chance to tour the beautiful tea fields in the surrounding town. Visitors are also welcome to participate in traditional tea rolling.