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'Japanese tea' city hopes heritage to help restore production | Updated: 2014-03-26 14:27

This week's completion of major maintenance work at a World Heritage temple in the historical city of Uji in western Japan is putting pressure on the local assembly to approve a draft ordinance that encourages residents to serve guests to the city with local tea, known as Uji Tea, instead of alcoholic drinks. Such a rule will be the first of its kind in Japan if introduced.

The new regulation is being proposed by the mayor of the riverside city in Kyoto Prefecture, where people will celebrate next month the completion of the repair work at the city's landmark Hoo-do (Phoenix Hall) of Byodoin Temple built in 1053.

Ahead of the re-opening after the two-year maintenance, local agricultural communities expect more people, especially international tourists, to taste the tea in the city, and thus promote its production.

However, compared with neighboring cities such as Kyoto or Nara, Uji City, with a population of 190,000, has few places where tourists can taste the tea, which was first planted by a Buddhist monk who studied in China in the 12th-13th century.

Speaking of the"unsatisfactory"situation for the tea, Yuko Iwamoto, a spokesperson for the city, told Xinhua that the municipal government was not enthusiastic about the current promotion of the tea because such efforts have relied on the name of the agricultural product that has been commonly used in the Japanese tea ceremony. "Because everybody in Japan associates Uji with quality tea, but not particularly with the city, we have simply imagined that higher production would be sustained as long as people drink the tea. But the reality now is different and serious,"she warned.

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