Why Tea Lovers Should Visit Shizuoka Japan | CoolJapan

Japanese tea is synonymous with green tea. Ever since its introduction into the country by Buddhist monks in the 8th century, the beverage has gained favour with the locals who value it for its health-giving benefits. In fact, the Japanese have built an entire culture around tea — from the traditional matcha tea ceremony to present-day vending machines that dispense all manners of green tea. 

According to online statistics portal Statista, almost 86,000 tons of green tea was consumed in Japan in 2018. This was an increase from around 81,300 tons in the previous year. To understand the nation’s obsession with green tea, you need not look further than Shizuoka. Located in central Honshu’s Pacific coast, the prefecture is the largest producer of green tea in the country, with 40 per cent of tea production originating from Shizuoka. 

A view of Mt. Fuji from a tea plantation

Typical yet breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji from a tea plantation. (Photo by: Shizuoka Prefectural Tourism Association)

If you love your ocha, here are four great activities to include on your travel wishlist. 

Hop on a steam locomotive that takes you through tea fields

Travel back to yesteryear Japan on this 1930 steam train locomotive that takes you along the banks of the Oigawa River with resplendent views of the Japanese Southern Alps in the distance. The 39.5km journey starts at Shin-Kanaya Station in central Shizuoka and takes just over an hour to reach Senzu Station in Haibara District. Along the way, you get to admire bucolic views of rolling tea plantations and enjoy the scent of flowering plants from your open window.

Oigawa Railway

Oigawa Railway is the only railway in Japan running Steam Locomotives throughout the year. (Photo by: Shizuoka Prefectural Tourism Association)

Try your hand at picking your own tea leaves

If you want a hands-on experience during your trip, be sure to visit Grinpia Makinohara, located in western Shizuoka. The sprawling tea estate offers visitors an opportunity to experience the entire tea cultivation process — from picking the leaves and learning how the leaves are processed to sampling the tea and snacking on tea-infused dishes such as tempura tea leaves. You are allowed to take home the leaves you pick so be sure to bring a cooler box and ice pack with you.

Women picking tea leaves

Experience tea-leaf picking! (Photo by: Shizuoka Prefectural Tourism Association)

Play a game of “Guess the tea”

For a unique tea-tasting experience, head to Muramatsu Shoten in Hamamatsu City. Part shop, part plantation and part factory, this establishment offers a great window to Japanese tea culture. Apart from taking you on a factory tour, the tea farmers also play a game of “cha kabuki” with their guests, a blind tea-tasting game where visitors try and guess the type of tea they’re tasting. Although this game originated in Kyoto, the owner Masahiro Muramatsu wanted to introduce a fun and interactive way for guests to learn more about the different types of tea cultivated on-site.

Visit an entire museum dedicated to tea

Of course, you can’t go to Japan’s biggest tea-producing region without paying a visit to a tea-focused museum. Located in the city of Shimada, Tea Museum Shizuoka offers visitors a rich and immersive experience that introduces them to the history and culture of tea cultivation in the region.

Pouring tea

Tea lovers will appreciate the various workshops that offer you a chance to grind some matcha, blend your own original tea as well as participate in a tea ceremony in a traditional tea ceremony house.