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Ōkōchi Sansō

Just next to packed Tenryū-ji temple and the Bamboo Grove lies Ōkōchi Sansō, lit. the “mountain villa of Ōkōchi,” a complex of several gardens and buildings dating back to the early twentieth century. Ōkōchi Denjirō 大河内 傳次郎 (1898–1962), a movie star of his time, has built this complex as his residence. From within the bamboo grove, a path leads up to the entrance of Ōkōchi Sansō, hiding the beauty of the place from potential visit. This, and an entrance fee of 1,000 Yen (which includes a cup of Maccha), helps keeping this place one of the few remaining hidden treasures of Kyōto.
After passing the entrance gate, visitors are invited to first enjoy their Maccha at a tea house to the left, before passing through a wooden gate to reach the main building and its courtyard. From there, on sunny days, a splendid view towards the city awaits visitors. The course, however, continues further up, through the forest, to a small building surrounded by a karesansui garden, and finally, to a maple tree grove with lush moss on the ground and a tea house at its back. Where the main building celebrates the beauty of light and sky, this area is much more wabi-sabi. After enjoying the colors there, which are undoubtedly best during maple foliage season, the path continues even further up to the top of the small mountain, from where you can look down to Katsura River, the Arashiyama Mountains, and a temple nestled into the mountain on the other side. Another pavilion awaits the visitor further along this path, this time offering another panoramic view of Kyōto City and Mt. Hiei. Descending, a small museum is the final stop of this magnificent estate. In my opinion, no matter the weather, a visit to Ōkōchi Sansō is a must for any traveler to this area.

Admission: open year-round
Nearby places of interest: Bamboo Grove, Tenryū-ji, Arashiyama Park

Overlooking Kyoto with Mt. Hiei in the back.

Overlooking Kyoto with Mt. Hiei in the back.

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