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Uji - Japan

Uji (宇治市 Uji-shi) is a city on the southern outskirts of the city of Kyoto, in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.

Founded on March 1, 1951, Uji is between the two ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto. The city sits on the Uji River, which has its source in Lake Biwa.

As of October 1, 2015, Uji has an estimated population of 184,726 and is the second largest city in Kyoto Prefecture. It has an area of 67.54 km2, giving it a population density of 2,735 persons per km2.

Other religious sites include the Manpuku-ji, the head temple of the Ōbaku Zen sect, built in Chinese Ming style in 1661 and the Zen temple Kōshō-ji, with its Kotozaka entrance (framed with dense thickets of cherry, kerria, azalea, and maple trees, each of which dramatically changes color with the seasons) constructed in 1648. Noteworthy is the Mimuroto-ji, which is famous for its purple hydrangeas. The city features numerous other small Shinto shrines. With a few exceptions, most of the important historical sites are in walking distance of one another and all are easily accessed by rail.

The last ten chapters of the Japanese classic novel The Tale of Genji take place in Uji, and so there is The Tale of Genji Museum.

Due to its striking natural setting, Uji boasts many natural attractions, including its scenic riverside, large parks, and a botanical garden. Slightly upriver from Uji bridge, the Amagase Dam spans the river and day trippers can walk to its base in about an hour. The route, which begins directly across from Keihan Uji Station, is a wonderful walk along the river on a paved road and offers access to several grassy open spaces where people can rest and picnic.

The city hosts two major festivals each year. The Agata Festival, held on June 5, begins in the early morning and runs until late at night. It is famous throughout western Japan for activities that are rumored to take place when the lights are suddenly doused at midnight. Like many cities in Japan, Uji hosts an hours-long fireworks festival on August 10. Both events draw huge crowds and require that the town's main thoroughfare to be shut down.

There is cormorant fishing in summer during the evening, from mid-June to late September.

In 1467, a great civil war, the Ōnin War, took place inside Kyoto, and most of the town was burned down. Japan plunged into the age of warring feudal lords. A new strong man, Tokugawa Ieyasu, established the shogunate at Edo (today's Tokyo) in 1603.

In the 15th century AD, tea-jars were brought by the shōguns to Uji in Kyoto from the Philippines which was used in the Japanese tea ceremony.

The Meiji Restoration returned Japan to imperial rule in 1868. Emperor Meiji, who was now the absolute sovereign, went to stay in Tokyo during the next year. The imperial court has not returned to Kyoto since then. During the instigation of Fuhanken Sanchisei in 1868, the prefecture received its suffix fu. The subsequent reorganization of the old provincial system merged the former Tango Province, Yamashiro Province and the eastern part of Tanba Province into today's Kyoto Prefecture.

Although many Japanese major cities were heavily bombed by U.S. bombers during World War II, the old capital escaped such devastating bombing. During the occupation, the U.S. Sixth Army was headquartered in Kyoto.

Kansai is known for its food, especially Osaka, as supported by the saying "Kyotoites are ruined by overspending on clothing, Osakans are ruined by overspending on food" (京の着倒れ、大阪の食い倒れ Kyō no Kidaore, Ōsaka no Kuidaore). Popular Osakan dishes include takoyaki, okonomiyaki, kitsune udon and kushikatsu. Kyoto is considered a mecca of traditional Japanese cuisine like kaiseki. Kansai has many wagyu brands such as Kobe beef and Tajima cattle from Hyōgo, Matsusaka beef from Mie and Omi beef from Shiga. Sake is another specialty of the region, the areas of Nada-Gogō and Fushimi produce 45% of all sake in Japan. As opposed to food from Eastern Japan, food in the Kansai area tends to be sweeter, and foods such as nattō tend to be less popular.

The dialects of the people from the Kansai region, commonly called Kansai-ben, have their own variations of pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Kansai-ben is the group of dialects spoken in the Kansai area, but is often treated as a dialect in its own right.

Kansai is one of the most prosperous areas for baseball in Japan. Two Nippon Professional Baseball teams, Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes, are based in Kansai. Koshien Stadium, the home stadium of the Hanshin Tigers, is also famous for the nationwide high school baseball tournaments. In association football, the Kansai Soccer League was founded in 1966 and currently has 16 teams in two divisions. Cerezo Osaka, Gamba Osaka, and Vissel Kobe belong to J. League Division 1 and Kyoto Sanga F.C. belongs to J. League Division 2, the top professional leagues in Japan.