Where is Ohara?
The small rural community of Ohara is located about one hour north of Kyoto. It is a perfect travel destination to go on retreat if you want to escape the hustle of the bigger cities and experience traditional Japanese culture. Ohara has two hot spring ryokans (traditional inns) which pump mineral water to the surface from a depth of more than 1km. Angela Pearse stayed at Oharanosato, and gave the outdoor bath a go.
“Traditional bathing in Japan is different from what I’m used to. The washing part takes place inside at the taps so I won’t be wallowing in my own (and others) grime. It makes good sense but crouching naked on a low stool, while sluicing myself with warm water from a bucket, culturally goes against the grain. I keep one eye warily on the door in case anyone comes in and my hands poised, ready to cover myself faster than a samurai wheeling his sword.
Once I’m all clean I head outdoors to soak in the hot water, and I mean hot water. The Japanese generally consider anything below 45C for sissies. I’m worried about being boiled alive as I gingerly submerge my body into a pool of scalding mineral water, but the vista of brooding mountain range and darkened forest distracts from my tingling nerve ends. Overhead, tiny silver spheres sprinkle across a jet-black sky, while nearby bamboo rustles mysteriously with the cool night breeze and, to add to the atmosphere, a lone frog croaks from a rice-paddy. I’m in my element, though up until now I’ve never communed this closely with nature while having a bath”.
Lonely Planet’s Japan (Country Guide)
One Great Reason to Visit Ohara
One great reason to visit this travel destination is to stay at Oharanosato where you can sleep Japanese style, eat traditional food and bathe in one of the outdoor mineral pools (men and women do have separate pools!).