Hi,I’m Keiko from Osaka!
Ohara is a tranquil quiet village and the best-kept secret of Kyoto.
It is a small valley surrounded with mountains where you can experience the “rural” Japan, though located only 40 minutes to 1 hour away from Kyoto.
In recent years, Ohara is slowly becoming popular among expats and foreign tourists thanks to Ms. Venetia Stanley-Smith, who is a British expat and a writer.
She has popular TV shows and blogs on herb gardening and cooking using local produce in Ohara.
Abundant with nature and temples, Ohara is known to be a perfect place for a quiet stroll.
I myself am in love with beauty of Ohara that visiting there has become my annual ritual.
Let me share my favorite strolling path!
Ohara in Kyoto: A Local Guide to the Best Walking Paths!
1.Sanzen-in Temple/三千院Start your stroll at Sanzen-in Temple by taking an Ohara line bus from Kyoto Station to Ohara.
Sanzen-in Temple is a Tendai sect temple established in the 8th century.
A member of the imperial family had served as a priest in the temple during the early years.
Besides the numerous cultural properties including an amazing figure of Amida, two gardens (Shuheki-en, Yosei-en) are the absolute must see.
On the green moss paths around the gardens, you can also find cute little statures of Jizo (smiling stone statues).
The fall would be a perfect season where Sanzen-in comes most alive and the contrast of the moss carpet and colorful leaves becomes magical.
Note that leaves start to color a little early in Ohara than middle of Kyoto.
2.Jikko-in Temple/実光院The next stop, Jikko-in Temple, is located just a few steps away from the gate of Sanzen-in Temple.
It is a sub-temple of Shorin-in Temple that is small but lovely and famous for its gardens.
The beautiful framed view of the gardens from the Guest Hall is just like a piece of a framed art, and beyond any word.
You will sure to find inner peace in its beauty.
The garden also is famous for having Cherry Blossom trees that bloom in the autumn season, making it one of the few places in Japan where you can view the autumn foliage and cherry blossom at the same time.
The pond that sits in the center of the garden is shaped in the image of 心(heart) and is fed from the Ritsu River.
3.Shorin-in Temple/勝林院Just north of Jikko-in Temple is Shorin-in Temple, founded originally in 853 and rebuilt in 1013.
The legend has it that Shorin-in temple was a place Tendai priest Kenshin and Honen, the founder of the Jodoshu (pure land Buddhism) school got into a big debate.
Therefore, the temple is sometimes also called as the “Temple of Discussions.”
Though it is a small temple, the buildings speak of its long history.
The main hall, the cultural property, has a traditional shingled roof that gives an undisturbed Kyoto feel.
Next,Let’s go to to my favorite temple in Ohara!
4.Hosen-in Temple/宝泉院This is my favorite temple in Ohara.
I was stunned by the beautiful view from Hosen-in Temple when I visited there for the first time.
Hosen-in Temple is one of the temples referred to as “Bloody Temples of Kyoto.”
A part of the temple’s ceiling has been transferred from the ceiling of the Fushimi Castle that was stained by the blood of samurai soldiers defending the Castle, who committed ritual suicide when the Castle was captured by the opposition.
Parts of the ceiling have been transferred to various castle and temples to pay respect for the fallen samurai.
Hosen-in is also known for the two-leveled gardens.
There is a great guest hall from which you can see a 700-year-old pine tree in a framed view.
Sipping a bitter bowl of Macha in tatami room underneath the bloodstained ceiling looking at the ancient tree, you are experiencing both the power and transience of life.
5.Raigo-in Temple/来迎院Raigo-in Temple is one of the sub-temples of Enryaku-ji.
The three Buddhist images in the Main Hall, are the important cultural property.
The beautiful complex of the temple has so much to offer, despite its size, from a picturesque curved stone bridge to the gate, beautifully cut azaleas, belfry, and perfectly rush-green ground.
6.Otonashi Waterfall/音無の滝Otonashi no Taki (Otonashi Waterfall) can be translated as soundless waterfall.
It was name as such as the sound of the waterfall was subdued by chanting of the monks.
The waterfall is more like a stream in the mountain.
The attraction might rather be the trail than the waterfall itself.
It is a beautiful easy trail that you can enjoy and appreciate the nature and rural environment of Kyoto.
The trail starts right outside the gate of Raigo-in.
7.Jakko-in Temple/寂光院Away from the cluster of temples around Sanzen-in, located on the opposite side of Ohara is Jakko-in temple.
It is famous for its beautiful garden, autumn foliage, and moss garden.
The approach to Jakko-in Temple is itself a treasure.
Jakko-in Temple is believed to be built in 7th century.
The temple went though various fires, including the most recent one in 2000.
Though it lost some historical feel that you will see in other temples, you will get to see the unique Japanese technical capacity to reconstruct the historical properties.
There are many craft shops and restaurants nearby which are as attractive as temples and gardens themselves.
How to get to Ohara?From Kyoto station:Take Kyoto bus #17 or #18 bound for “Ohara/大原” and get off the bus at last bus stop and walk for 15 minutes.It will get you to Ohara about 1 hour for 600 yen.
From Sanjo or Kawaramachi station:Take Kyoto bus #17 bound for “Ohara/大原” and get off the bus at last bus stop and walk for 15 minutes.It will get you to Ohara about 45 minutes for 500 yen.
From Keihan Demachiyanagi station:Take Kyoto Bus #16 or #17 bound for “Ohara/大原” and get off at last bus stop and walk for 15 minutes.It will get you to Ohara in 35 minutes for 430 yen.
※Note,take Kyoto Bus,not a green Kyoto city bus.
7 Best Walking Paths in Ohara,Kyoto
- Sanzen-in Temple・・・ Sanzen-in Temple is a Tendai sect temple established in the 8th century.
- Jikko-in Temple・・・It is a sub-temple of Shorin-in Temple that is small but lovely and famous for its gardens.
- Shorin-in Temple・・・Just north of Jikko-in Temple is Shorin-in Temple, founded originally in 853 and rebuilt in 1013.
- Hosen-in Temple・・・Hosen-in Temple is one of the temples referred to as “Bloody Temples of Kyoto.”
- Raigo-in Temple・・・Raigo-in Temple is one of the sub-temples of Enryaku-ji.
- Otonashi Waterfall・・・The waterfall is more like a stream in the mountain.
- Jakko-in Temple・・・It is famous for its beautiful garden, autumn foliage, and moss garden.
It feels great to walk around Ohara especially in the morning.Take a deep breath of the clean, fresh air will refresh your body.
I hope you’ll enjoy a relaxing time in Ohara,Kyoto!
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