Trip Start Sep 15, 2007
24Trip End Nov 14, 2007
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Where I stayed
We stayed at a very traditional ryokan with onsen (natural hot springs baths) called Ohara-no-sato. It was a really neat place in a gorgeous setting. We enjoyed the baths (gender segregated, as is most common), the yukatas (robes) provided, the nice rooms, the sound of the stream outside our window, the good food, and the beautiful, quiet setting. The price included breakfasts and dinners. The dinners were great, but we just couldn't get "into" the traditional Japanese breakfasts - raw egg, rice, fish, a few pickled vegetables, seaweed, miso soup, and bitter green tea
We visited the Sanzen-in temple, the most famous one in Ohara. It was established in 784. The oldest existing building is from 968 - a beautiful, simple, structure. It is appropriately well-known for its beautiful gardens. We walked up behind the temple to a pretty waterfall - a peaceful, quiet spot in a beautiful forest.
We also visited the Jakko-in temple just up the street from our ryokan. It's a pretty place, founded sometime between 594 and 1165, depending which legends you believe. Sadly, a deranged person burned it down in 2000, including a 1000 year old pine tree. They rebuilt the buildings and statues, but it doesn't have the mystery and grace the original would have. The temple has an interesting history and is unique in that it is run by women and the head priestess has always been a nun from a noble family. Again, the gardens and koi pond are justifiably famous.
We discovered this town and ryokan on-line, through a site called "japaneseguesthouses.com." I'm SO glad we discovered it, as we all loved our time there.