Exploration of Takao, full day

A breath of fresh air along the Kiyotaki river

The opinion of Japan Experience

The possibility for any curious visitor to catch a glimpse of a little-known yet important side of the country: the Japan of paddy fields, woods, and fields with the bonus of being able to visit two wonderful temples which are often neglected for reasons of distance.

Your Travel Angel's plus

Your Travel Angel's Nicolas has noticed that in Japan, efforts are made to keep and re-discover authentic tastes and quality products. Lovers of local produce will surely be satisfied with this day out.



Your guide will come and pick you up at 9 am and then you will head off in a wagon-car, driven by the guide, towards, the « great plain ».

We will be driving alongside the Takano river and leaving the noises of the city behind us. The road heads upwards via a few hairpin bends, goes around Mount Hiei on the west flank and comes out onto a fairly vast plateau where the first rice fields can be seen.

Ohara is a very pleasant village whose houses are scattered here and there on either side of the road and the river, between fields and forests. Kyoto is the northern point of the triangle of the region of Kansai with its 18 million inhabitants. Ohara is even further to the north and from there to the shores of the Japan sea 100km away, there is nothing but a succession of steep valleys.

After parking the car, we will walk in the charming village, surrounded by flowers and traditional houses.
Once we have gone through the gate of Sanzen-in, we are surrounded by greenery. The green of the moss on the old stone lanterns or at the foot of the maples whose own delicate green filters the sunlight, and colorful with bright yellow or red when the autumn arrives.
it's one of the best spots to see the maples trees "momiji" red leaves colors in Autumn.

The green of the Hortensia and Azalea groves as well, and then the pinks, whites, reds, blues, and purples when they burst into flower at the start of summer.
The peony flower , cherry trees , hortensia ,mapple ,the winter camellia flower, this garden have been made to give the beauty of nature at any time of the year.

The Amidado, a wooden pavilion which is 1000 years old gives off a powerful sobriety. It contains three remarkable wooden, lacquer and gold leaf statues of buddha which also date from the Heian period shortly after the foundation of Kyoto.

Those who love temples* will be able to continue marvelling when they visit the Hosen-in, its venerable, 700-year old 5-trunk pine and its ceiling panels coloured with blood, having originally been part of the floor at the castle of Fushimi where 370 samuraïs committed "seppuku", the classical suicide of samurai after they had lost the battle .

We will then pick up a small village road to go and explore a hidden village where the agricultural and forestry work of old Japan stays alive.
The narrow road which we walk along is bordered with small shops where the main item on sale is tsukemono, these pickled vegetables which are the pride of Kyoto and many of which come from the very fertile plain of Ohara.

Then we will go to the local restaurant, where every dish is cooked using local products (game, river fish, mushrooms etc…) and organic vegetables which come from their fields.
It is time for gourmets to take up their chopsticks, this place is well worth a visit!

After Ohara, we will continue north, driving between the rice field and the small village and then, taking the winding road
with many superb places from which to view the Biwa lake and the mountains of the central chaiîn.
We will make a stop at one view point, which is one of the best viewing spots of the biggest lake in Japan.

We will then keep driving to the top of Mount Hiei, before arriving at the top, this will be followed by a 30mn easy walk to visit 2 beautiful hidden temples in the forest.  A path surrounded by tall cedar trees and stone lanterns. 

To end the trip we will visit the peak of the mountain at an altitude of 800m; this is where the famous Enryaku-ji is located, a Unesco world heritage site which is full of history dating back to the very foundation of the city of Kyoto in the 8th century.

The temple's history is intermingled with that of Buddhism, so widespread was its influence not only on religious life but also political life. Originally intended to protect the capital from harmful influences and demons from the north-east, the temple has often been a place for conflict resolution thanks to the intervention of its monk warriors, the famous « Sohei ». Sitting atop Mount Hiei, the huge buildings made of sawn or Vermillion timber today forming a most majestic ambience.

And then, via a small road, we return to the hum of the city with its traffic, surprised by the contrast and amazed to have, in the space of a single day, caught a glimpse of that other Kyoto, away behind the mountain.

* The visit of Hosen-in is optional, with costs to be paid for by customers (800 yen).


Your Travel Angel will contact you by e-mail to decide the meeting point.
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