The best time to view autumn leaves in Ohara is a bit earlier than the rest of Kyoto, usually around the middle of November. So we had to go see what the autumn leaves looked there in 2017! (Don’t worry, we’ll also go to Ohara in 2018 too – and probably 2019 also!)
Ohara is not that close from the center of Kyoto, it takes over an hour to get there from Kyoto Station. But the trip is worth it, as you get into a wonderful, rustic little village in the mountains, to see beautiful autumn leaves.
But first, as we were hungry, we decided to have lunch at Seryo Hinazato. This is the restaurant of the ryokan of the same name, and the ryokan is even listed as a recommended place to stay on the Michelin Guide.
The food here is just made for Instagram, and most of the other guests were women. Their lunch sets cost around 3,000 yen for one person, so they’re not cheap, but you do get really many small portions of Japanese food, so you shouldn’t have to leave the restaurant hungry.
You can your lunch served in a real layered lunch box, and if you feel like it, you can add yudofu – boiled tofu – to your lunch too. It’s pretty rare even in Kyoto to see a lunch set this photogenic.
Ryokan of Ohara, Kyoto SERYO Hinazato
Sanzen-in Temple is one of the oldest in Kyoto, and because it’s in Ohara, it’s of course surrounded by beautiful nature. The temple is really big, and you get to enjoy not one, but two Japanese gardens.
Actually in 2017 the temple was not quite as beautiful as usual because of the two typhoons that hit it in early autumn. So, we’re already looking forward to the 2018 autumn leaves at Sanzen-in Temple!
During the autumn leaves season the temple can get pretty crowded, but luckily it’s also really big so even if there are many people, they are going to be dispersed.
Jikko-in Temple was built as a sub-temple of Shoren-in Temple, a big temple found in Higashiyama close to Gion. Jikko-in Temple is has a beautiful garden, but it’s most famous for its cherry blossoms, which bloom almost all through the year. The cherry blossoms at Jikko-in Temple are in full bloom in November!
Jikko-in Temple has a garden representing the paradise, which is really beautiful, and normally very quiet. During the peak autumn leaves season, even this small temple can get crowded, but you can also order a cup of matcha for a small extra fee. Drinking matcha while you look at the beautiful garden is a soothing experience.
And you can’t forget about the cherry blossoms. There may not be many of them, but getting to see cherry blossoms and autumn leaves at the same time is something special.
Hosen-in Temple is the other main temple in the Ohara area, the first one being of course Sanzen-in. Hosen-in’s specialty is that you get matcha and a traditional Japanese sweet if you visit the temple, and you get to view the temple’s gorgeous garden while you drink your matcha.
The temple is full of little details a small stream going through it, so you have to pay attention when looking around.
But the temple does not only have one garden but two. So remember to also head left from the entrance to the temple, where you can find this quiet little rock garden where sand plays the part of water.
We considered buying a dango skewer… (the sign says no pictures, but only if you’re not buying.)
… but got something else completely. So after going to three temples, and getting to see some extremely beautiful autumn leaves, it was time to finish on a high: shiso soft serve!
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