Japanese countryside, full day

Rural Japan and the marvels of Tendai Buddhism

The opinion of Japan Experience

The possibility for any curious visitor to catch a glimpse of an aspect as important as it is unknown: Japan's rice fields, woods and fields, with the opportunity to visit two wonderful temples on the same day, often not seen because of distance.

Your Travel Angel's plus

Nicolas has found that in Japan as in France, they try to preserve or regain a love for authentic and good products. Food lovers should be fully completely with this day.


Your tour guide picks you up in a minibus at 9 am and drive you towards Ohara, the "Great Plain"

Very quickly, we’ll head along the river Takano and leave the sounds of the city behind us. The road climbs in a few places, bypasses the imposing Mount Hiei by the western flank and leads to a fairly wide plateau where you can see the rice fields for the first time.

Ohara is a very pleasant village where the houses are scattered on both sides of the road and the river between fields and forests. The small narrow road that we’ll take on foot is lined with small shops which sell mainly tsukemono. These vegetables in brine are the pride of Kyoto and a good number of them come straight from the fertile Ohara plain.

Kyoto is the northernmost point of the Kansai region triangle and has a population of 18 million. Ohara is even further north. On the shores of the Japanese sea, 100 kilometers away, there is nothing but a succession of steep valleys.

Once through the door of the sanzen-in temple, the greenery takes over. Green moss on old stone lanterns or at the foot of maple trees filters out the sunlight, unless it is dyed a yellow or bright red when autumn arrives.

The groves of azaleas are also green and hydrangeas and then roses bring in whites, reds of blues and violets when their flowers bloom from spring to early summer

The Amidadô, a wooden pavilion which is nearly 1,000 years old, has a powerful sobriety. It is home to three remarkable wooden, lacquer and gold leaf statues which date back to the Heian period (794-1185), shortly after the founding of Kyoto.

Lovers of temples will be able to continue to bask in wonder by visiting the Hosen-in, its venerable 5-barrel pine, 700 years old and its ceiling blades tinted with blood as the blades were originally part of Fushimi castle’s parquet floor where there were 370 samurai ...

We’ll walk through the rice fields and gardens to a small local restaurant by the river, where the kitchen is entirely made with local organic vegetables. Gourmet lovers prepare yourselves, the place is worth a visit!

After Ohara, we take the road heading north towards Biwa Lake, then take the winding road into Hiei-zan forest to the top of the Hiei-zan, offering us superb views of the lake and the central chain of mountains.

Finally, at the top of the mountain, we’ll visit the famous Enryaku-ji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place has been full of history since Kyoto was founded in the eighth century.

The history of this temple merges with the history of Japanese Buddhism, as its influence was huge on both religious and political life. Originally designed to protect the capital from harmful influences and demons coming from the northeast, the temple has often been the place of arbitration of conflicts due to the intervention of its warrior monks, the so-called Sohei. Perched on top of Mount Hiei, the immense buildings made of rough wood or vermilion form a majestic ensemble today.

Satoshi and his wife will then welcome you to their restaurant, where every dish is cooked using local produce (game, river fish, mushrooms etc…) and vegetables which come from their own fields.
It's time for gourmets to pick up their chopsticks - this place is well worth a visit!

After Ohara, you will continue north towards Lake Biwa and then, taking a winding road, climb to the top of Mount Hiei, with many superb places from which to view the lake and the mountains of the area.

To finish off, you will visit the peak of the mountain at an altitude of more than 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 form a majestic whole.

And then, on a small road, we’ll return to bustling city traffic, you'll be shocked by the contrast and surprised to be able to see this other Kyoto behind the mountain in just a single day…

Meals and the visits mentioned are included in the price.
* The visit of Hosen-in is optional, with entry costs to be paid for by customers (approx. 800 yen).


Your Travel Angel will contact you by e-mail to decide the meeting point.
Please kindly note that depending on the group this activity will be provided in French.