Ohara, a rural glimpse of Japan

On our last day in Kyoto, we planned to go outside the town. The local tourist information center suggested visiting Ohara, a village north of Kyoto, to get a glimpse of rural life. Although we had to check out, the hotel kept our luggage the whole day, which made it very convenient to spend the day in Kyoto.

We took bus number 17 from Kyoto Station to Ohara. The bus leaves every 20 minutes. A bus drove an hour for a 580 yen ticket to the Ohara bus station. We followed the walking map from the bus station and found a Sanzen-in temple. The entrance fee was 700 yen, the highest we paid for entrance to a temple.

Sanzen-In temple was founded in 784. Sanzen-In’s principal object of worship is a golden statue of the Amida Buddha. The temple possesses two seventeenth-century pond gardens of great beauty: the Shuhei-en Garden (“Garden that Gathers Green”) and the Yusei-en Garden (“Garden of Pure Presence”). The gardens of Sanzen-In were the most beautiful gardens we have seen in Japan. They are worth visiting.

The hiking in Ohara was great; it was a peaceful area with rice fields and a rural atmosphere. There are plenty of opportunities to buy local food, snacks, or souvenirs. There is another prominent temple, Jakko-In, also in the area, but we did not visit it.

Cypress forest in Ohara

What to do in Ohara?

  • Sanzen-in Temple – a beautiful and historic temple with a beautiful garden and traditional architecture.
  • Hosen-in Temple – a serene temple with a beautiful rock garden and traditional architecture.
  • Ohara Museum of Art – showcasing exhibitions of modern art, including works by Monet, Degas, and other famous artists.
  • Ohara Market – a traditional Japanese market selling local produce and souvenirs.
  • Ohara no Sato – a cultural center showcasing the history and culture of the town, including traditional crafts and food.
  • The scenic hike up to Mount Hiei – offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
  • Enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at a local tea house.
  • Visit the Ohara Bamboo Forest – a beautiful forest with towering bamboo trees and a peaceful atmosphere.

After driving back to Kyoto, we had an idea to buy some souvenirs, and we went to do that in the big shopping mall in Kyoto Station. There were two options-Isetan and Porta. Isetan is a very modern department store in the Kyoto Station building. It has 13 floors, including a restaurant floor, a cosmetics floor, an amusement arcade, and an art gallery. Isetan department stores had high-end brand names (which you can see everywhere in the world). Porta is located beneath the station area. The brands sold here were unfamiliar to us. Porta has a good selection of different cafes and restaurants. We did not find a good souvenir shop here. We brought home sushi dishes from Isetan.

At 6 o’clock, we took the Shinkansen to Nagoya. It took only 30 minutes without any stops, and we had already arrived at Nagoya station. We decided we did not want to go to our airport hotel early. So we visited some electronics and manga souvenir shops just opposite the central entrance of Nagoya station. The electronics shop and Bic Camera store were good shops with many reasonably priced items.

Then it was time for the train, and it came out that the JR pass was not good for the Meitetsu line going to the airport. So, we needed to buy tickets for 1,200 yen each. But we did not have the 2400 yen cash anymore. Payment with a credit card was not possible, so we needed the ATM. The nearest ATM did not approve any of the cards we had. We spent almost an hour trying to find a proper ATM, but finally, we had cash, and then we had our last ride on the Japanese railway.

We have booked a Comfort Inn at Nagoya Airport. This was a very good choice-it connected to the airport with walkways (we used airport trolleys until our room door), rooms are spacious, free Wifi is available, and if you do not have a computer, you can rent one for 500 yen (24h). If 14000 yen for a double room is an okay price for you, this should be a choice near the airport. The Comfort Inn was a good option because we had to go to check in after a good sleep and breakfast. Our plane left Nagoya at 11 AM on July 10th.

The trip to Japan was memorable; it was full of sightseeing and glimpses of Japanese culture.

Photos from this trip: Japan Photo Gallery

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