Osaka-Kyoto Itinerary Days 3 & 4: Ohara Onsen Ryokan and Sanzen-in Temple

Before you arrive at Days 3 & 4 of Osaka-Kyoto Itinerary, you may want some other information:

Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe Itinerary: Pre-planning
Osaka-Kyoto Itinerary: Day 1 (Arrival) and Day 2, Day Trip to Kobe

Ohara is on a mountain in Kyoto

Day 3

11am – Have brunch and check out late. Then slowly make your way from Osaka to Kyoto Station. If your hotel is around Kyoto Station like ours, deposit your luggage at the hotel and bring a backpack of 2-day clothings. If your hotel isn’t around Kyoto Station, it’s ok.

From Kyoto Station, you can (1) take a direct bus to Ohara or (2) take the subway to Ohara and then transfer to a bus.

If you walk to the ryokan from the bus terminal, you’ll come across this murmuring brook.

We wanted to include an onsen experience in our itinerary. We had a choice of either Kinosaki Onsen (2.5 hours from Kyoto) or Ohara which is a rural part of Kyoto (1 hour from city centre). We chose Ohara because less time is spent travelling and because it is more affordable.

Ohara was the best experience of our trip. I highly recommend it.

Cameron Highlands! Just kidding. It’s still Ohara.

3pm – If you didn’t leave your luggage at your Kyoto hotel, leave it at the Ohara bus terminal (there are lockers) and just take 2 sets of clothes with you.

Yumoto Ohara Sansou

From the bus terminal, take a short climb to Yumoto Ohara Sansou (17 Kusao-cho, Ohara, Sakyou-ku, Kyoto City 601-1248; +81-75-744-2227), a ryokan or traditional Japanese inn with onsen facilities. Or you may inform them to pick you up at the bus station.

Small room. If you want to sleep, you’ll need to move the table aside and put the bedding yourself.

This was the perpetual state of our room. We didn’t bother to keep the bedding, we left it there and laid down whenever we were in the room

Yumoto is quite a different onsen than what we experienced previously. This is more budget friendly, only S$500 for two nights (¥38K). The main differences are (1) the food isn’t as fancy as other onsens’ and (2) toilet facilities are shared.

Can you see the mountain view?

View from our room. You can just make out the mountains.

Being so pampered, I thought sharing toilet would be bad but it’s really quite ok. The toilets are super clean and high tech. And they were always empty when I went.

Their toilet is at the end of this corridor. Quite scary at night when it is so quiet.

Shared wash basins for morning ablutions.

The toilet has two cubicles with heated toilet seats and a urinal.
Women stay at another wing of the ryokan. This wing is for men only.

You’ll need to walk outside to get to the onsen

Don’t worry, it’s a short walk.

They have two onsens: one for male and one for female. Like other onsens, they switch at different timing of the day.
This is the uglier onsen. The other onsen is nicer.
Each onsen has an indoor pool and an outdoor pool.

Outdoor onsen

4pm – after some rest, go for an onsen! It’s really so relaxing.

Dinner on day 1: red miso hotpot. Although we were very hungry, they gave so much food we couldn’t finish. They make their own red miso and it is available for purchase.

Pink somen!

Chicken into the miso nabe hotpot

6pm – Dinner is provided by the ryokan.

8pm – More onsen

Day 4

I wanted to stay two days at a ryokan-onsen because I always feel that 1 day is too rushed. I wanted to slow down. But if you only want 1 day of onsen, just do follow half a day here (8am – 1pm). After lunch, continue with Day 5 itinerary.

At Yumoto, there are two rooms that serve meals. One is the normal chair-table arrangement which doesn’t offer any view. Another room, the Japanese-style room, offers a view of their beautiful garden.

The ryokan’s garden against the backdrop of mountains

Panoramic view of the garden

8am – Breakfast provided by ryokan.

Day 2 breakfast. Salmon. But the star is really the tofu, so damn smooth and beany. When you come to Kyoto, you must eat their tofu.
Rice is free-flow.

9am – Sneak in another onsen session.

Along the way up to Sanzen-in, I took a lot of pretentious photos.

A red stream of autumn leaves.

10am – take the ryokan shuttle to the Ohara bus terminal. From the terminal, slowly make your way up to Sanzen-in temple. Along the way to the temple, there are many quaint shops and slowly take your time to take in the gorgeous scenery.

You need to pay to enter Sanzen-in temple but it is worth it. It’s one of the most beautiful and tranquil temples I have been.

Sanzen-in temple is gorgeous.

Inside Sanzenin temple, there are many mini stone statues.

If you can afford the expensive price of this restaurant, go ahead. It’s one of the most beautiful restaurants ever. A pine tree grows across the entrance.

And inside the Pine Tree restaurant, there is a water mill!!!

1pm – Have a long lunch. After lunch, slowly stroll back to the ryokan.

Tip: the restaurant just at the gate of Sanzen-in offers a spectacular view that overlooks the mountains.

We couldn’t afford the Pine Tree restaurant, and couldn’t afford the restaurant opposite of Sanzen-in, so we ate at a soba-and-tempura joint, Sawada さわだ (1-番地 Oharashorinincho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1241, Japan; 〒601-1241 京都府京都市左京区大原勝林院町1−番地; +81-75-744-2677; 10am-5pm). And then we went up to the second floor, their cafe, to have desserts.

The vibe of their cafe is totally different from the stuffy soba restaurant. The cafe is quaint. Their traditional matcha is very bitter and comes in a big bowl and sweet to ameliorate the bitterness.

We also went to Jakko-in Temple, which is just beside our ryokan. But I don’t advise you to go. There’s nothing to see there and it charges admission fees.

4pm – After taking a rest in your room, go for an onsen session.

Day 2 dinner: beef sukiyaki with lots of vegetables

This is so delicious!

6pm – dinner provided by ryokan.

8pm – Another onsen session.

Sleep early, do some light reading, communicate with your travelling companion. Next day, we would return to Kyoto city.

You may be interested in…
10 Must Eat Food in Kyoto and Where to Find them
5 Must Eat Food in Osaka and Where to Find Them
Where to Stay in Kyoto, Japan: Hotel Vischio Kyoto Review
Where to Stay in Osaka: Review of Hotel Gracery Osaka Namba

Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.

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