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Photo By: Runako Thornhill
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Oharano Shrine

Also known as Kyoto Kasuga, the shrine is a small piece of Nara in a Kyoto mountain suburb.

By Runako Thornhill

Tucked away in the forests of Mount Koshio, Oharano Shrine is a green retreat less than an hour away from Kyoto Station. Also known as Kyoto Kasuga, the shrine is a small piece of Nara in a Kyoto mountain suburb. The 83,000 square meter forest property offers gentle walking trails and a peaceful respite from the regular Kyoto crowds.

A Branch of Nara’s Famous Kasuga Taisha

Photo by: Runako Thornhill A shrine with an ancient Nara history.

In 784 AD the then Emperor, Kanmu, moved the capital from Nara to Nagaoka-kyo. There, his Empress consort, Fujiwara no Otomuro, established Oharano Shrine. It was a place to worship her clan’s deities, enshrined at Kasuga Taisha in Nara. The Fujiwara Clan’s deer motif can be seen in the buck and doe statues guarding the stairs to Oharano’s main shrine and the stone deer providing water to worshippers at the shrine’s basin.

Straight Out of a Painting

Photo by: Runako Thornhill Lush greenery all around.

The approach to the shrine goes past a small soba restaurant that offers light meals and a great view of the scenic garden. The lily pond and bridge in the garden are said to be reminiscent of Monet’s Pond of Water Lilies painting. The pond is modeled after Sarusawa Pond in Nara.

Photo by: Runako Thornhill So much left to explore.

The sacred grounds are connected to the surrounding area by forest trails. Exploring the serene property, it’s easy to understand why Fujiwara no Otomuro chose this location as her place of worship. The nature trail to the right of the main shrine winds through a leafy canopy before ending at a secluded bamboo grove at the edge of the property. The grove is much smaller than the one in Arashiyama but considerably less crowded. To the left of the main shrine, the trails go through dense forest to a paved path that leads to Shojiji Temple (Flower Temple) further up the mountain.

Things To Know

When to go

Oharano Shrine is a calming retreat at any time of year, but its seasonal highlights include the three day full bloom of a massive weeping cherry blossom named Senganzakura, sumo matches during the September Mitakari Festival and the autumn forest light up.

How To Get There


By bus

Oharano Shrine is a 20-minute bus ride followed by a short walk from either Hankyu Higashi-Muko Station or JR Mukomachi Station. Board the Hankyu bus bound for Minami Kasugacho, then get off at the final stop Minami-Kasuga-cho. The shrine compound is a 10-minute walk from the stop.

By car

Oharano Shrine is about a 15-minute taxi ride from Hankyu Higashi-Muko Station or JR Mukomachi Station.

Where To Stay

Kyoto Takenosato Onsen Hotel Kyoto Eminence
  • 2-4 Oharano Higashisakaidanicho, Kyoto-shi Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto, 610-1143 Japan
  • ¥14,100 - ¥15,750
  • 4.18/5 (530 reviews)
  • 1.8 km
Hotel Discover Kyoto Nagaokakyo
  • 1-7-3 Tenjin, Nagaokakyo-shi, Kyoto, 617-0824 Japan
  • ¥15,200 - ¥16,150
  • 3.42/5 (84 reviews)
  • 5.2 km
Riverside Arashiyama
  • 10 Arashiyama Nakaoshitacho, Kyoto-shi Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto, 616-0004 Japan
  • ¥22,500 - ¥27,500
  • 4.47/5 (55 reviews)
  • 5.9 km
Kyoto Kadensho
  • 5-4 Arashiyama Nishiichikawacho, Kyoto-shi Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto, 616-0003 Japan
  • ¥30,305 - ¥32,395
  • 4.04/5 (1,797 reviews)
  • 6.0 km
Hotel Arashiyama
  • 1-3 Arashiyama Kamikawaracho, Kyoto-shi Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto, 616-0001 Japan
  • ¥10,500 - ¥16,500
  • 6.0 km

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