Ohara is a country-side area of Kyoto, and it is located north of Kyoto city.
Here, the most popular spot is Ohara Sanzenin Temple (700 yen/adult) with 1200 years of history. It has a large premises scattered with beautiful Japanese gardens. The best seasons to visit this temple are cherry blossom season (beginning to middle of April), summer (middle of June to beginning of July) when vivid hydrangeas are blooming and autumn leaves season. Among these, the autumn leaves season is the busiest, so be sure to go on weekdays.
Some people visit Sanzenin and immediately leave the Ohara area. That is OK, but not the smartest plan considering the time spent on transportation. Hosenin Temple (800 yen with green tea and sweet) and Jakkoin Temple (600 yen) are also worth visiting. Hosenin is famous for its garden view in which the columns inside the room act as a photo frame. Also, the ceiling stained with blood is also worth checking out. This particular ceiling was moved from Fushimi Castle and it used to be a floor where a few hundred samurai soldiers who were about to lose the battle killed themselves in 1600. To honor their spirits, these floors were used at Edo Castle later by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Then after his Tokugawa government returned its power to the new Meiji government in 1868, the floors were donated to several places including Hosenin Temple.
Jakkoin temple (nunnery) is away from Sanzenin / Hosenin (30 – 40 minute walk), but still considered one of the best spots in Ohara to visit. Just like the other locations, the best season to visit is autumn leaves season.
Although there are some great spots mentioned above, not many people go to Ohara because it is relatively difficult to get to.
Even Japanese people do not visit this place as often as other places such as Gion area.
That does not mean Ohara is not worth visiting. In fact, for people who do not mind spending a whole day for the visit, it is not a bad idea to explore the Ohara Area.
How to Go to Ohara
This is the easiest method. It costs more, but it is the fastest and the easiest. For people traveling with a group of three to four, it might be better to take a taxi, at least on the way back after walking a couple of hours.
From Kyoto Station, take a Kyoto Bus (Line 17) from C3 and get off at Ohara (about 60 minutes : 600 yen). Or take Subway Karasuma Line at Kyoto Station to Kokusai Kaikan (20 mins: 290 yen), then take a Kyoto Bus bound for Ohara/Kodeishii from stop 3 and get off at Ohara (20 minutes: 350 yen). Follow the sign (Sanzenin is a ten minute walk from the bus stop while Jakkoin is 20 minutes from the bus stop).
Note that Kyoto Bus is different from the City Bus and the One Day Bus Pass is not accepted for this route because Ohara is not included in the fixed fair area. The Kyoto Bus has white body with wine red line.