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Ohara (匴, Ōhara) is a rural town nestled in the mountains of northern Kyoto, about one hour from Kyoto Station, but still technically located within Kyoto's city limits. Ohara is best known for Sanzenin Temple and particularly popular in mid November during the autumn leaf season, which typically occurs about one week earlier than in central Kyoto.

Sanzenin Temple is located part way up the forested mountains in the east of Ohara. It is a large temple with a variety of buildings and gardens, and was established in the early Heian Period (794-1185) by the great monk Saicho, who founded the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism. The path from the town to the temple is lined with numerous small shops. One of the local specialties on sale are aisu kyuri, cucumbers pickled in seaweed flavored ice water and served on a stick.

The temples surrounding Sanzenin also belong to the Tendai sect. They are quite small, and typically have only a couple of buildings or a garden. If you follow the walking trail behind the temples further into the forested mountain, you will eventually get to Otonashi Waterfall.

There are also a few attractions on the hillside on the opposite side of the valley, although there is generally less to see in this area. Jakkoin Temple, another temple of the Tendai sect, is the area's main attraction. The temple has a long history, but unfortunately suffered serious damage from a fire in 2000 in an act of arson. The area has a few shops, but not nearly as many as around Sanzenin.

In 2004 drilling took place in Ohara that allowed the town's ryokan (Japanese inns) to access hot spring water from over a kilometer deep within the earth. There are two ryokan near Jakkoin and one near Sanzenin where visitors can stay overnight, enjoying hot spring water baths after a day of sightseeing. For travelers with less time, the baths are also open to day trippers in combined lunch and bath sets.

Main Temples

Sanzenin Temple

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (from 8:30 in November, until 16:30 from December to February); admission ends 30 minutes before closing
Closed: No closing days
Fee: 700 yen
Sanzenin Temple is the main attraction of Ohara, around which most of the town's tourist activity is centered. The temple has a number of temple buildings, gardens, and walking paths to explore. There is a highly valued statue of the Amida Buddha on display that dates back to the 900s.

Jakkoin Temple

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (shorter hours during the winter)
Closed: No closing days
Fee: 600 yen
Jakkoin was founded around the year 600. A long flight of stairs leads up to the temple gate, which is particularly attractive during the autumn. Unfortunately, the main hall burnt down in 2000, but it has since been rebuilt and holds a statue of the Buddhist deity Jizo. Jakkoin is noted for having served as the nunnery of a former empress.

Minor Temples and Sights

Hosenin Temple

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed: No closing days
Fee: 800 yen (includes green tea and Japanese sweet)
Hosenin is a small temple with attractive gardens, the most impressive of which has a large, carefully pruned 700 year old pine tree. Visitors can admire the tree from a tatami room while being served tea. There is also a strolling garden with large stones and a maple tree that is impressive during the fall.

Shorinin Temple

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (admission until 16:30)
Closed: No closing days
Fee: 300 yen
The temple was founded in 1013, and served as a location of practicing the Shomyo style of Buddhist chanting that was imported from China. The present main hall was built during the mid-Edo Period (1603-1867), and holds the temple's main object of worship, a statue of the Amida Buddha.

Jikkoin Temple

Hours: 9:00 to 16:00 (until 16:30 in November)
Closed: January 1
Fee: 500 yen (plus 300 yen for green tea and Japanese sweet)
Located just across from Sanzenin, Jikkoin is another temple that has an attractive garden. Jikkoin's garden is a typical Japanese garden with a pond, shrubs and variety of flowering plants. There are small walking paths, but the garden is best enjoyed from the temple building while seated on tatami.

Raigoin Temple

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Closed: No closing days
Fee: 400 yen
Raigoin is located quite deep within the forest. The distance from the shops and large crowds gives the temple an especially tranquil atmosphere. The temple was founded in the mid 9th century, its main hall and bell tower date back to the Muromachi Period (1333-1573) and a small stone pagoda was built in the Kamakura Period (1192-1333).

Otonashi no Taki

About a 10 minute walk from Sanzenin, Otonashi no Taki is an attractive waterfall located in the forest behind Ohara. Signs along walking paths clearly mark the way, so visitors don't need to worry about getting lost. The waterfall itself is like a stream that quietly trickles down the rocks. Otonashi no Taki is Japanese for "waterfall without sound", and according to legend the sound of the waterfall is gone because it fused with the sound of the nearby monks chanting.

Getting there and around

From Kyoto Station, the fastest way to reach Ohara is to take the Karasuma Subway Line to its terminal station Kokusaikaikan Station (20 minutes, 290 yen) and then Kyoto Bus number 19 to Ohara (20 minutes, 360 yen, every 40 minutes). Alternatively, Kyoto Bus number 17 provides a direct connection from Kyoto Station to Ohara (60 minutes, 560 yen, every 20 minutes) via Shijo-Kawaramachi (45 minutes, 530 yen). The bus rides are not covered by the 1-day bus pass.

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hotels around Kyoto

Top rated in Kyoto
Budget:
    • Guesthouse Engawa
      Budget-friendly
      Guesthouse Engawa offers accommodation in Kyoto. Guests can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of Kyoto in their rooms. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, and an electric kettle will be provided upon request. Bathroom facilities are shared with other guests. Free toiletries and hairdryers are also available. There is luggage storage space at the property. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is 600 metres from Guesthouse Engawa, while Heian Shrine is 2.4 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Kyoto, this traditional Japanese guest house features free Wi-Fi and a free public computer. Shichijo Onmae bus stop is 3 minutesf walk away. A seating area and shared bathroom are provided with each room at Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS. Free toiletries are provided and blankets are available upon request. Select rooms have a garden view. A shared living area and bicycles are available for guestsf use during their stay at this Kyoto Guesthouse Compass. Access to the shared kitchen is available upon request. The guest house is 4.5 km from Imperial Palace and 2.2 km from Kyoto Station. Nijo Castle and Toji Castle are within a 30 minutesf bus ride away.
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    • Ryokan Mugen (Adult Only)
      Mid-range
      Mugen is a property that was built 160 years ago, situated in Kyoto, 1 km from Nijo Castle. Every room at Mugen features an en suite shower room, toilet, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. You will find a shared lounge on site and a bar at the annex building. The ryokan also offers bike hire. Imperial Palace is 1.1 km from Mugen, while Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is 1.6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Gallery Nozawa Inn
      Budget-friendly
      Gallery Nozawa Inn offers accommodation in Kyoto, 25 minutes on foot from JR Kyoto Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Every room includes a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. Each room is equipped with a private toilet, and bathrooms are shared. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is luggage storage space at the property. Guests can sample Japanese-style breakfast featuring seasonal ingredients. There is a public bathhouse located a 10-minute walk away. Nijo Castle is 2.4 km from Gallery Nozawa Inn, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.4 km from the property. Osaka Itami Airport is 36 km away.
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    • Guesthouse tu casa
      Budget-friendly
      Attractively located in the Higashiyama Ward district of Kyoto, Guesthouse tu casa is situated 1.2 km from Sanjusangen-do Temple, 1.4 km from Kiyomizu-dera Temple and 1.9 km from TKP Garden City Kyoto. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and a shared lounge, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The guest house has family rooms. At the guest house rooms are equipped with a shared bathroom. Samurai Kembu Kyoto is 2.2 km from Guesthouse tu casa, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.8 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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    • Mitsuki Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      Set in Kyoto, within 600 metres of Kyoto International Manga Museum and 1.7 km of Nijo Castle, Mitsuki Kyoto offers accommodation with a garden and free WiFi throughout the property. The property is located 2.1 km from Kyoto Imperial Palace, 2.3 km from Heian Shrine and 2.3 km from Samurai Kembu Kyoto. The accommodation provides a concierge service, ticket service and luggage storage for guests. At the ryokan every room has a private bathroom. An Asian breakfast is available every morning at Mitsuki Kyoto. Guests at the accommodation will be able to enjoy activities in and around Kyoto, like cycling. Shoren-in Temple is 3.2 km from Mitsuki Kyoto, while TKP Garden City Kyoto is 3.4 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 39 km from the ryokan.
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    • Guest House Oumi
      Budget-friendly
      Well set in Kyoto, Guest House Oumi provides air-conditioned rooms, a shared lounge, free WiFi and a garden. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation offers a shared kitchen and room service for guests. At the guest house every room comes with a shared bathroom with free toiletries. A continental breakfast is available daily at guesthouseoumi. Nijo Castle is less than 1 km from the accommodation, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.2 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 37 km from Guest House Oumi.
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    • Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandereverie
      Luxury
      Ideally situated in the Shimogyo Ward district of Kyoto, Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandereverie is situated 1.3 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum, 1.9 km from Samurai Kembu Kyoto and 2.3 km from TKP Garden City Kyoto. Boasting family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, a concierge service and luggage storage for guests. All rooms are fitted with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a wardrobe. Featuring a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries, rooms at the hotel also feature free WiFi. Shoren-in Temple is 2.7 km from Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandere, while Nijo Castle is 2.8 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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    • IMAYA Hostel Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      Attractively situated in the centre of Kyoto, IMAYA Hostel Kyoto features air-conditioned rooms, a bar, free WiFi and a shared lounge. The property is around less than 1 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum, a 16-minute walk from Nijo Castle and 2.4 km from Samurai Kembu Kyoto. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen, a concierge service and ticket service for guests. The rooms at the hostel are fitted with a flat-screen TV and a kitchenette. The shared bathroom is fitted with a bidet, a hairdryer and free toiletries. All guest rooms will provide guests with a microwave. Kyoto Imperial Palace is 2.9 km from IMAYA Hostel Kyoto, while Heian Shrine is 3.1 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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    • Hotel Muso
      Mid-range
      Well located in the Shimogyo Ward district of Kyoto, Hotel Muso is located 1.8 km from Sanjusangen-do Temple, 1.9 km from Samurai Kembu Kyoto and 2 km from TKP Garden City Kyoto. The 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom and free WiFi. The hotel features family rooms. The rooms in the hotel are fitted with a kettle. Guest rooms in Hotel Muso are equipped with a flat-screen TV and a hairdryer. The accommodation offers a hot tub. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is 2 km from Hotel Muso, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.2 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from the hotel.
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