Out of Japan's 47 prefectures, tea is produced almost everywhere except for Hokkaido, the most northern part of Japan, as well as Osaka and Yamagata prefectures.
Shizuoka and Kagoshima are the two most significant regions of tea production throughout Japan.
Japan is the 8th largest tea producer in the world. However, less than 2% of all the tea grown in Japan is exported. Most tea is grown for local retail.
If you were to cut Japan diagonally through the middle, almost all tea farmers would remain in the Southern part. There are no major tea producing areas in the north of Japan.
Let's start up north from the prefecture closest to Tokyo — Shizuoka, and then take a trip down south!
Top Japanese Green Tea Producing Regions
Shizuoka, the breathtaking province surrounding Mount Fuji, is the largest tea producing area in Japan. Shizuoka prefecture is on top of the Japan list not only for tea lovers but also for everyone who wants to experience Japan's incredible nature. To make things even better, it is just a 60-minute shinkansen (high-speed rail) ride away from Tokyo.
Most Japanese sencha green tea for everyday drinking is produced in Shizuoka prefecture. However, we should not forget about all the next-level green teas that Shizuoka farmers produce.
It is interesting to note that Shizuoka is "Japan's center of tea." Sometimes even the teas that are produced in other prefectures are shipped to Shizuoka for packaging and retail. It is not uncommon to find sencha blends of teas grown in various prefectures across Japan.
While Kyoto is not in the top 3 producing tea areas of Japan, it is where Japan's tea culture holds its origins.
Over 800 years ago, when Kyoto was the capital of Japan, tea was grown in many of the prefecture's tea gardens belonging to the Buddhist temples.
A small town in Kyoto prefecture called Uji is regarded as the birthplace of tea in Japan. It is a prime spot for tea tourism in Japan. Walking around the town's small streets, you can quickly feel the history of the place and taste tea from century-old tea shops.
One particularity of Kyoto green tea is that most of Kyoto's tea is actually labeled as such despite being produced outside of Uji. "Uji tea" is sometimes even used for blends of green teas coming from different prefectures, as long as more than half of the volume is produced in Kyoto.
Uji, Kyoto, is still regarded as the country's top matcha producing area, and many tea connoisseurs will opt for buying Uji Matcha. However, Nishio, a relatively small city in Nagoya prefecture, produces the most Japanese matcha tea.
Mie is the third largest tea producing prefecture in Japan. It is specifically known for its Kabuse Sencha, a sencha green tea that is shaded for two weeks before harvest. For fans of Kabuse Sencha, Mie prefecture tea is the way to go!
Are you a fan of Gyokuro? I know I am! If so, chances are you've had Gyokuro grown in Fukuoka prefecture. About half of all of Japan's Gyokuro is produced in Fukuoka.
Another famous green tea stemming from Fukuoka is Yame Sencha. Both Yame Sencha and Gyokuro are known for their deep green color, unmistakable umami, and sweetness.
Although Miyazaki produces the least tea out of all the listed prefectures, its tea is still highly revered. Miyazaki prefecture mostly produced Sencha and Gyokuro green tea.
Located at the southernmost tip of Japan's main island, Kagoshima prefecture is the country's second-largest tea producer. The geographical specialties of this prefecture are what distinguish its teas and make them so popular. The ocean surrounds Kagoshima, and the soil is full of volcanic ash. These constitute unique growing conditions, making the tea aromatic and deep.
Traveling around Kagoshima's sensational views, you are sure to stumble upon many up and rising tea houses serving local tea beverages.
Ibaraki, Saitama, Shiga, Aichi, Okayama, Nara, Shimane, Yamaguchi, Nagasaki, Koichi, Gifu, Kumamoto, and Saga prefectures are also known for their tea farms. However, these prefectures generally produce less than 5% of the country's teas.
While tea plantations generally don't extend much north past Ibaraki prefecture, locality is valued in Japan. I did have a chance once of trying some of Fukushima's local sencha productions, and it was on par with many others throughout the country.
Read More: A Deeper Look Into Japan's Tea Cultivars