Kyoto is one of the largest cities in Japan with the population of approximately one point five million people. The city is impressive in its sights of the ancient architecture, honoring the times of Kyoto being a capital of Japan. Kyoto's number one attractions are the Imperial Palace and the Gold Palace, but there are more places, not so widely known in the world, but they can turn your visit to Kyoto into a beaten path.
Ohara is a rural town in northern Kyoto City, about one hour north of Kyoto Station. It is an excellent place to escape from the buss of the city, its crowds and traffic. A visitor can spend a great day here, walking from a temple to temple and exploring the tiny town of Ohara, experiencing one of Ohara onsens (the town has many good ones) and accommodating in a nice ryokan with tatami mats in the rooms. Ohara is for those, who want to take a deep rest from the civilization and absorb a unique Japanese ancient culture.
The Sansen-in Temple is a temple in Ohara, famous for its beautiful moss gardens. The gardens are fine to take a stroll and enjoy the scenery all around. There are two gardens, surrounding the temple, Juhekien and Yuseien the Sanzen-in's Ojo-Goguraku-in (Amida Hall). The second was first built in 985 by the Tendai priest Genshin and the name literally means the Temple of Rebirth in Paradise. You can see a statue of Amida with two kneeling attendants, Kannon and Seishi in the garden. The main building of Sanzen-in is also famous for its Funazoko or boat's bottom ceiling, which makes visitors feel that they are in an upside down boat. People say that Sanzen-in is particularly attractive in autumn, when the foliage is multi-colored from bright yellow to crimson.
Along the road from the Ohara bus stop to Sanzen-in you will enjoy the views of a small twisting river, as well as you can visit one of numerous souvenir shops.
Another famous temple in Ohara is Jakko-in. The temple is said to be founded by Shotoku Taishi in the seventh century, it was destroyed in the arson of two thousand, but reconstructed in 2005. Not far from Jakko-in there is a hot spring, appeared in 2004, which bubbles to the surface from more than one kilometer depth. There is one more temple in the area, Hosen-in, with a magnificent garden, where you can sip traditional green tea and listen to the history of the site.
There are many small restaurants in Ohara, but one of the finest places to dine is Serio, located next to Sanzen-in. The restaurant serves beautifully presented Japanese meals, ranging in price from cheap to more expensive, and in a good weather you can have dinner outside on a river terrace.
There is also a good ryokan, offering Japanese rooms with tatami and Western-style appartments.
One more place that will make your visit to Kyoto outstanding is a walk through the historical Nishiki Market. The offers of the market are diverse. The Aritsugu knife shop, dating back to 1560, displays the handcrafted knives that are actually the works of art. Essential Japanese spices, such as dried yuzu, sansho powder, shichimi and yuzu kosho are sold at Dintora. You can have a quick snack with osembei (rice crackers) at Mochiyaki Sembei, and at Konnyamonja you can try original doughnuts with soy milk. Kyoto is famous for its abundant culinary delicacies and you will find many of them at the Nishiki Market. The Market is located in central Kyoto and the closest subway station is Karasuma.