With the warm temperatures we were having in November, we somehow got tired to wait for the beauty of the Fall season, for the flamboyant foliage. The maple leaves were just not turning red around the city, so we decided to try our luck by going to the mountain. And one of the easiest and most beautiful place to go to during the Fall is Ohara with the superb Sanzen-In Temple (三千院).
The place is located about an hour north of central Kyoto. The approach from Ohara bus stop to Sanzen-In Temple is lined with shops and restaurants catering to temple visitors, and there are a number of smaller temples in the vicinity. Sanzen-In Temple itself has large temple grounds and a variety of buildings, gardens and walking paths.
The main attraction is probably the Ojo-Gokuraku-In Hall, containing an amazing figure of Amida, the Buddha of the Western Paradise. And another feature of this temple is the large open Shuhekien Garden, a traditional Japanese garden that has a small pond and hill.
I really enjoyed the little walk through the moss garden, the tranquil atmosphere that permeates this garden, and these amusing stone statues that peek out from the moss. Along with the rest of the temple, the garden is particularly impressive during the autumn colors, which usually take place in mid November, about a week earlier than in central Kyoto.
Sanzen-in Temple is easily one of the best daytrips out of Kyoto!
Sanzen-In Temple, Ohara
Sanzen-In Temple is a ten minute walk uphill from Ohara bus stop.
From Kyoto Station, the fastest way to reach Ohara is to take the Karasuma Subway Line to its terminal station Kokusaikaikan Station (20 minutes, 290 yen) and then Kyoto Bus number 19 to Ohara (20 minutes, 350 yen, every 40 minutes). Alternatively, Kyoto Bus number 17 provides a direct connection from Kyoto Station to Ohara (60 minutes, 600 yen, every 20 minutes) via Shijo-Kawaramachi (45 minutes, 520 yen). The bus rides are not covered by the 1-day bus pass.