Okochi-Sanso Villa - The Most Breathtaking Villa in Arashiyama Kyoto


Located in Arashiyama area of Kyoto, close to the famous bamboo forest lies the beautiful Okochi-Sanso Villa. Even though the Okochi-Sanso isn't included on most must-see list when visiting Arashiyama; I will assure you it will be after you have read this article.

The Okochi-Sanso villa is a quiet villa with huge surrounding gardens and was built by the popular actor Okochi Denjiro and has been open to the public for a few years now and is totally worth a visit.
However, with the 1000 yen admission fee, most visitors will be redundant to enter (just like me when I happened to walk past this villa). Nevertheless I paid the price and I will tell you why next time you will pass by the entrance you will not hesitate to pay the entrance fee.

The entrance fee inclused a cup of Japanese hot matcha and a chewy Japanese sweet in the tea house on the grounds. You can sit inside and face the beauty of the bamboo forest or sit in the garden under the trees.
Also, when following the clearly indicated walking route, you will be lead to all the beautiful and unique parts of the garden including some amazing viewpoints of Arashiyama city. You can easily spend a hour to 1,5 hours just wandering around the gardens. (20 thousand square meters)

When you enter the Okochi Sanso, the first building you see is the Daijokaku, the Japanese styled villa and the main house. Even though, you are not allowed to enter the villa the nice grassland in front of the house give a beautiful view of the city. (Especially in Autumn)
The gardens are designed to be beautiful all year round with cherry blossoms in spring, blue azaleas in summer, Japanese maple trees in autumn and pines in winter!

The Villa

Stunning Momiji (even though not yet at their peak!) - Look at the crowds... barely there

Afterwards, you are lead through the gardens by a clear indicated path, which I personally loved, because when walking a designed path you are sure you will not miss any of the major highlights. You are guided on twisting path, cobblestone steps and the multi-level gardens to give you breathtaking views.

Cobblestone path in autumn
The path will guide you on the path above to the second tea house, where, even though you can not get any tea, you can relax and enjoy this tranquil view of the moss garden, which looks great in any season.

Arashiyama Viewpoint

Upon reaching the highest point of the gardens you will find this amazing resting place, which is great for having a packed lunch. With views over Arashiyama, which in my opinion are even more breathtaking as the famous one of the Iwayatama Monkey Park, the lunch will taste even better. Relax, sit back and enjoy the view.

Random Momiji picture

And another one...

After, visiting the highest point you are slowly descending by viewing some other parts of the huge gardens. More breathtaking gardens will be passed when heading back towards the tea house, where you can have your cup of Japanese tea.

However, for the more cautious wanderer, who hasn't had enough of these beautiful gardens there are some secret nooks, which are not regularly explored.

This first one being the museum of Okochi Daijiro, the actor. This open-air museum is located in a square gallery near the end of the trail. Personally, it wasn't my cup of tea, since all the explanations where in Japanese and the museum was about the life of Okochi Daijiro, whom I am not familiar with...

The second, however, is definitely worth a visit. This little temple like building is located just off the main trail on a small flight of stairs. The building is secluded and is a beautiful place of tranquility.

After taking off your shoes you can enter the temple-like building and copy sutras or pray. However, the most impressive thing to do is to visit the veranda just outside the temple overlooking a beautiful rock garden and just let the natural beauty overflow you with happiness

Breathtaking isn't it? (yes, this is me!)

Okochi-Sanso has completely impressed me. Even though, I had the villa on my to-do list, it wasn't on top and I almost passed it by because of the pricey entrance fee. However, because of the beauty of the Japanese gardens and the complementary Japanese Matcha and Sweet, I think the price is more than reasonable.

The Okochi-Sanso is now honestly the most impressive and breathtaking place to visit and will be the first on my list whenever I will be in Arashiyama again!

I hope it will be on yours now as well!

For questions... Please ask below

How to get there:

Getting to the Okochi-Sanso villa is really easy. Just walk the famous Bamboo forest all the way. (This is highly recommended, since the crowded bamboo forest gets less crowded the further you get from the main entrance to the forest) At the end of the bamboo forest you will see a path going up a small slope with a big sign (in English) saying: Okochi-Sanso Villa. Just few steps and you will get to the entrance of the property.

Useful information:

-Opening hours: 9:00-17:00
-Admission: 1000 yen
-Address: 8 Tabuchiyama-cho Saga Ogurayama Ukyo-ku Kyoto
-Best season to visit: Autumn

Disclaimer: All pictures were taken by yours truly.

Miki P