Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Ōhara no Sato Onsen: The Vegan-Friendly Ryokan in Ōhara

Ōhara is one of our favorite destinations in Kyoto. If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle in the city center, spending a night in the rural village is a good idea. But because most restaurants are closed at night, if Wappa-dō is fully booked out, it means you have nowhere to go for dinner. Fortunately, the ryokan, Ōhara no Sato Onsen (味噌と大原温泉 民宿 大原の里), is vegan-friendly. It is also a perfect choice for those who have a tighter budget.

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About Ōhara no Sato Onsen

Ohara no Sato Onsen Ohara Kyoto Japan

Ōhara no Sato Onsen is very close to Jakkō-in (寂光院), one of our favorite temples in the village. The ryokan is run by a miso maker that has more than 100 years of history. Thus, the main dish for dinner is a miso-flavored hot pot. The vegetables used to prepare the meals for the guests are harvested from its gardens and sourced locally.

Note that if you are a vegan or vegetarian, the ryokan will give you a tofu hot pot instead.

The ryokan is also one of the two accommodation facilities that have hot springs. Although the hot spring tubs aren’t big, the open-air bath Goemon bath (五右衛門露天風呂) surrounded by vegetation will make you feel like you are bathing in the wild.

There are a total of 23 Japanese-style guestrooms. Depending on the number of people in your group and your budget, your room size will vary. Many of the guestrooms come with a garden view.

Our Guestroom at Ōhara no Sato Onsen

Because we wanted to save money on accommodation, we chose the smallest room (around 4m x 3m) in the ryokan. Although the room was compact, it had everything we needed. The only inconvenience was that we had to move the low table to the side so two futon beds could be laid on the tatami mat-covered floor.

Ohara no Sato Onsen Guestroom Ohara Kyoto Japan

On a cold autumn day, the Kotatsu (heated table covered by a futon quilt) is the best thing in Japanese culture. It kept us nice and warm, even without the air conditioner!

One drawback of the lovely room was dust could be seen around the windowsill. The futon quilt on the Kotatsu probably wasn’t cleaned regularly. Being allergic to dust mites, I sneezed a couple of times while in the room.

Like other ryokans in Japan, a Yukata set and a bath towel were prepared for each guest. A hand towel, toothbrush, and toothpaste were placed inside the bag above the bath towel. Because the weather was cold, a jacket for the Yukata was also provided. You can refer to the 3rd to the 5th photo in the Instagram post.

The futon bed wasn’t as soft as the ones in high-end ryokans, but it wasn’t too hard that we couldn’t sleep. However, if you have back issues or are used to soft mattresses, check with the staff if they can give you another futon to make the bed softer.

Ōhara no Sato Onsen’s Public Onsen Baths

Ōhara no Sato Onsen has two public onsen bath areas. If you love bathing, utilize the facility at night and in the morning before breakfast. While only the baths are single-gendered, the ryokan alternates the gender assigned to each public bath. Thus, if you bathe two days in a row, you get to enjoy both hot spring facilities.

Because we booked our stay months before our arrival, we had already forgotten the ryokan has outdoor baths. So there were a few times when we heard showering sounds when we took off our clothes in the changing room, but when we entered the bathing area, there was no one. It wasn’t until the morning that we saw people heading out from the indoor bathing area, which made us realize open-air baths were available!

Fortunately, the female bath’s outdoor bath was an ordinary one that was just against the glass wall of the indoor bath. Otherwise, we would have missed out on the traditional Goemon bath! It was the best bath at Ōhara no Sato Onsen. The ceramic bathtub is like a super large jar, giving you a different bathing experience.

You can refer to the ryokan’s official website HERE for more photos of the hot spring facility.

Dinner and Breakfast at Ōhara no Sato Onsen

Dinner at Ōhara no Sato Onsen was simple but fun. We had a large tofu hot pot to share between two people. Because the ryokan is run by a miso paste maker, four four miso paste in different flavors were at the self-service area for the guest to sample (refer to the 1st photo in the IG post). You can taste it as it is or use the paste to make miso soup with hot water. Rice and a few other side dishes were self-served, too. It made me feel more comfortable that I didn’t need to worry about whether the staff would think I ate too much!

Ohara no Sato Onsen Dining Hall Ohara Kyoto Japan

The number of side dishes we had for breakfast was limited as many of them were cooked with seafood stock. It would have been better if they could make something special for us instead of replacing the grilled fish with tofu. But that was okay. We understand that vegan-style cooking is hard for the staff, but at least we didn’t starve.

The highlight of dining at Ōhara no Sato Onsen was the White Miso Ice Cream (白味噌アイス) in the second last photo in the Instagram post! We thought it would taste weird, but the miso-flavored ice cream was so tasty that we ordered another one after breakfast!

If you stay at the ryokan by yourself, you most likely will be assigned the best seat in the dining hall (refer to the 3rd photo in the IG post). We were a little bit envious towards those who were assigned the tables against the floor-to-ceiling table. The garden view was in front of them the entire mealtime!

Discover the Fascinating Attractions in Ōhara

Click the photo to find out more information about Ōhara!

Now that you know where to find phenomenal food at Ōhara, it is time to plan the rest of your visit to this town.

In our Ōhara article, you will find information about all the attractions that are worth your time. We have also included a couple of dining options for lunch or dinner, as well as general information about the spiritual village. A recommended itinerary for you to follow the day is also included!

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