Sunday, June 12, 2016

Kyoto Travel—Visiting Ohara for Autumn Colors and Moss Garden

Ohara (大原) is a nice walking area (1.5 hours) somewhat comparable to Arashiyama, where you can touch the heart of rural Japan.  Sanzen-in Temple (三千院)  is the main attraction of the rural town of Ohara.

In Japanology's video "moss", it has introduced Saiho-ji temple (西芳寺) — a  Buddhist temple with famed moss garden.  However, you cannot visit it without advance reservation and satisfying preconditions (see here). Then, Sanzen-in Temple could be a good alternative for you to visit a moss garden. Read [2] for more details.


  • Sanzen-in Temple (三千院)[4] best of Japan
    • From the main hall (神殿 / shinden ), visitors can enjoy the most famous view of Sanzenin Temple—the Ojo Gokuraku-in Hall seen through maple and cedar trees across a moss garden.
    • Admission: 700 yen
    • Open Hours
      • 9:00-17:30 (Mar-Oct), 8:30 - 17:30 (Nov)
      • 9:00-16:30 (Dec-Feb)
  • Jakko-in Temple (寂光院outstanding
    • A long flight of stairs leads up to the temple gate, which is particularly attractive during the autumn (紅葉 / こうよう / kouyou; see picture above)
    • Admission: 600 yen
    • Open Hours
      • 9:00-17:30
      • 9:00-16:30 (Dec-Feb)
  • Waterfalls (音無の滝 / おとなしのたき / otonashi no taki)
    • If you follow the walking trail behind the temples further into the forested mountain, you will eventually get to Otonashi Waterfall.
    • Is an attractive waterfall located in the forest behind Ohara.
    • Read [1] for more details
  • Hot springs
    • For travelers with less time, the baths are also open to day trippers in combined lunch and bath sets.

Get There and Around

Using buses in Japan can be intimidating to foreign tourists because there are usually few English displays or announcements, and there are different systems of ticketing depending on the company.
Read this good article for how to use a local bus.

To reach Ohara (大原), there are at least three options:[7]
  • From Kyoto Station (~40 mins)
    • Take the Karasuma Subway Line
      • to its terminal station Kokusaikaikan Station (20 minutes)
    • Then Kyoto Bus number 19 
      • to Ohara (20 mins)
  • From Kyoto Station (60 mins)
    • Take Kyoto Bus number 17  (Bus Stop C-3) to Ohara
      • Check out the timetable here (in Japanese)
  • From Shijo-Kawaramachi Station 四条河原町 (45 mins)
    • Take Kyoto Bus number 17 to Ohara
      • Check out the timetable here (in Japanese)
      • Stop over Sanjo Kehan Station (三条京阪) too
The timetable(s) are shown in Japanese only.  Here are some important translations of them:
  • 行先 (Destination)
    • 大原 (Ohara)
  • 経由 (Stopover)
    • 四条河原町(Shijo-Kawaramachi Station)
    • 三条京阪 (Sanjo Kehan Station) 

Finally, remind you that:
  • The bus rides are not covered by the 1-day bus pass 
  • To get around, see the map (click to enlarge)

Photo Credits

  • Japanhopper.com
  • JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization)


  1. Ohara Area (大原) outstanding
  2. Sanzenin Temple outstanding
  3. Ohara Bus Timetable 
  4. Kyoto Walks (JNTO)
  5. Autumn Colors
  6. Local Buses (important)
  7. 三千院門跡
  8. お得な乗車券 (Discount Bus Tickets; in Japanese)
  9. 寂光院 (in Japanese)
  11. Arukumachi kyoto route planner (bus and train)
  12. 春を呼ぶ水仙 (in Japanese)
  13. At Home with Venetia in Kyoto
    • Venetia Stanley-Smith has been living in Kyoto's Ohara district for a decade. We introduce her eco-people-friendly way of life.
  14. Kyoto Bus Route Map (pdf)
  15. Kyoto 14 day weather forecast, Japan 

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