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Ōhara 大原

Ōhara (大原, lit. "big valley") is a village (now part of Sakyō District, Kyōto City) in a valley located some 7kms north of Yase, the northeastern-most part of Kyōto City.


An ancient farming village, several historic temples are scattered through Ōhara, most notably the vast Sanzen-in (三千院門跡) complex on its eastern side. A temple so large it feels more like visiting three separate monasteris: the lower garden, a masterpiece of wet landscape garden design; the middle garden, a moss-covered forest with an ancient hall in the middle, and finally the upper areas, full of hydrangea bushes and ways through a forest and along a river. Nearby, the smaller but equally pittoresque gardens of Jikkō-in (實光院), Hōsen-in (宝泉院) and the temples of Shōrin-in (勝林院) and Raigō-in (来迎院), both with a fairly interesting selection of Heian Period Buddhist sculptures, are located.

Strolling along fields and old houses to the Western side, the temple of Jakkō-in (寂光院) can be found, as well as an Onsen Ryokan which also specializes in the making of hand-made Misō, probably by far the best one in all of Kyōto.

Ohara Morning.jpg

The Amida Hall of Sanzen-in in winter.

​Furthermore, some 2 kilometres north of central Ōhara, Kochidani Amida-ji (古知谷阿弥陀寺) lies hidden deep in the mountains. If you want to experience the real solitude of a mountain temple in Kyōto, take your time and walk there. It's worth it, especially between May-June and October-November.

Ōhara is a good bet for snow in Kyōto. If the forecast predicts snow, but it didn't seem to snow in the city, check the radar. There might be 5-10cm of snow in and around Ōhara, making the village the perfect trip for a winter day. Just be aware that Amida-ji is closed during winter... ;)

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