Doors of the divine Ohara
Over a thousand years old, the
holy temples of Ohara and their surroundings have the beauty and
the blessings of the gods.
No matter in which part of the Kansai you are
located, Ohara, just north of Kyoto city, is a very accessible local
hideaway that is too often overlooked. The place is a perfect destination
for those who want to touch the cultural history of Japan and be
touched by the beauty of Japanese nature. Being off the beaten Kyoto
temple trail but a significant heritage centre in its own right,
it has the air of being under-discovered rather than un-discovered.
Yet it is a place open to all to enjoy a relaxing atmosphere, scenic
landscape, historical treasures and a walk in the countryside.
Ohara is about an hour bus ride north from Kyoto
Station, cutting through Kyoto city and later traveling hilly roads.
When you arrive at the bus stop, you have the options of choosing
either left for Jakko-in temple or right for Sanzen-in temple
the two most significant attractions of Ohara. In either direction,
during the fifteen minutes walk to the temples you can hardly hear
any noise, except the murmuring of a stream and twittering of the
birds, and you will find several paddy fields surrounded by thick-wooded
The walk is through real countryside and you can
enjoy chatting with farmers in the rice-fields, looking at ancient
traditional Japanese houses and the beauty of rural life. You may
even see some of the local monkeys strolling across the roads and
fields as they still owned the place and oblivious to the busy humans.
Approaching the temples, souvenir shops and pickle stores line the
Jakko-in is an ancient temple founded in
594 by Prince Shotoku is famous in particular for its association
with the empress, Kenreimonin (1155~1213), who was a second daughter
of Kiyomori Taira. After the destruction of the Taira clan in the
naval battle with the Minamotos (1185), she shaved her head to become
a nun, and lived the rest of her life at Jakko-in temple where she
prayed for the repose of the Taira.
Regrettably, the main hall of the temple was burned
down in a big fire on May 9th, 2000. Currently, the temporary main
hall is placed, and its reconstruction project is under going.
Nearby Sanzen-in temple is very famous for its beautiful Japanese
gardens and important cultural properties and therefore, you may
see more tourists around.
The temple is surrounded by some of the best Zen
gardens of the region. Shakyo, transcribing a sutra, is one of the
popular attractions of the temple. It is said that if you transcribe
words of the Buddha, then your cherished ambition would be realized.
So make sure you try your luck!
Ojo Gokuraku-in temple and Raigo-in temple are
the neighboring temples of Sanzen-in, much smaller in scale but
perhaps better representations of the spirit of Buddhism. Both the
temples have three wonderful statues of a seated Buddha in a nicely
A perfect ending to the day is Shorin-in temple,
which is again very close to Sanzen-in, and quiet enough to close
your eyes to have few meditative moments in front of the beautiful
solitary statue of Buddha to gain absolute silence within.
Without doubt this will remain with you till you are back on busy
Kyoto roads, memorised by picturesque Ohara.
From C3 Kyoto Bus Terminal (next to JR Kyoto station), get on the
Kyoto Bus #17 or #18 that takes you to OHARA bus stop (the last
A one way ticket costs ¥580.
Entry to temples: ¥300/¥600.