Jan. 23, 2019 UPDATE

Hunt for the autumn leaves in Ohara in 2017

The autumn leaves of 2017 are turning to vivid colors of red and yellow, so of course we had to go see what Sanzen-in Temple looks like in autumn 2017!

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. 

Seryo HinazatoBut 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. 

lunch setsThe 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. 

lunch boxYou 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. 

Address Sanzen-in, Ohara, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City
Open Hours 11:30am - 3pm

Sanzen-in Temple

Sanzen-in TempleSanzen-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. 

autumn leaves at Sanzen-in TempleActually 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 seasonDuring 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. 

Address 540 Ohara Raigoincho, Sakyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 601-1242
Open Hours 9am - 5:00pm November: 8:30am - 5:00pm December-February:9am - 4:30pm

Jikko-in Temple

Jikko-in TempleJikko-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 paradiseJikko-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. 

cherry blossomsAnd 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

Hosen-in TempleHosen-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

The temple is full of little details a small stream going through it, so you have to pay attention when looking around. 

rock gardenBut 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. 

Address 187, Ohara Shorinincho, Sakyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 601-1241
Open Hours 9am - 5pm (must enter by 4:30pm)

dangoWe considered buying a dango skewer… (the sign says no pictures, but only if you’re not buying.)

soft serve… 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! 

Sampo[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]
It’s not often that you get to go to three temples in a place as far away as Ohara, but because of this, the temples somehow feel even more special. There is pretty much nothing around the temples but other temples, and you get a feeling of serenity you don’t often get at the big temples of Kyoto. Still, I would like to recommend getting the dango-skewer if it’s autumn and already pretty cold.
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All Things To Do Ohara

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