Known also as Arioka Castle, Itami Castle was owned by one Murashige Araki - the most capable student of the famous master Sen-no-Rikyu (famed for his lasting influence on the traditional Japanese tea ceremony). It is said that through Sen-no-Rikyu’s teaching, Araki gained a profound knowledge of the Japanese ‘way of tea’.
During the Edo period, Itami prospered, primarily for its sake production. Its Uji district, however, dominated by the close-knit Konoe family, was to become known not for sake, but for Japanese tea. As an area controlled by the Shogun, Uji was frequently visited by writers and artists, and quickly blossomed as a place rich in haiku culture besides its associations with the tea industry.
Even today, the connection between Itami and Japanese tea can still be felt, with ‘Arioka-mo-midori’ (literally, ‘the green of Arioka’) retaining widespread renown. With its tea leaves still hand-picked with utmost care from the neighbouring Uji River, the leaves are then ground using a hand-mill, creating a deliciously pure tea, known for its rich aroma and flavour.


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