Kansai's Hidden Treasures: Kyoto's Ohara

For a feel of rural life in Japan without going too far from a big city, look no further than Ohara, a small town nestled in the mountains to the north of Kyoto. Just an hour away by bus from Kyoto Station, Ohara seems like another world, full of traditional houses, rice fields, and beautiful temples. This town is best well known for Sanzenin Temple, a sprawling temple with plentiful gardens and an assortment of enchanting buildings. Founded by the monk Saicho during the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism, it has retained its importance till this time. 
A sample of Sanzenin's beautiful gardens

The winding path to Sanzenin from the main road/bus stop is lined with charming stores, selling a variety of Japanese crafts and local foods. 
Surrounding Sanzenin are a few temples also part of the Tendai sect. A ten-minute walk on a trail behind these temples through the forest leads to Otonashi Waterfall, a picturesque cascade. 
Otonashi Waterfall
To the opposite side of the bus stop are a few more temples. Of special note is Jakkoin Temple, another temple part of the Tendai sect. There are a few cafes on the road leading up to it. A unique one is a footbathing café, where you are able to enjoy a cool drink while dipping your feet into cool water running over rocks below—a welcome respite for sore feet, especially in the hot summer months.  
-       Ohara is known for being especially beautiful in the fall, when its bountiful trees turn beautiful hues of red and orange. Nevertheless, it is also not to be missed in the other months, with flowers blooming in the spring, lush moss covering the temple grounds in the summer, and snow dusting the buildings in the winter. 
-       The Kyoto City Bus 1-Day pass cannot be used to fully pay for this journey and a small surcharge will apply. Even without using a pass, the one-way fare will only be ~ ¥ 550 from Kyoto Station. 

Eri Lin