If you are looking for a hidden gem in Kyoto to avoid the massive crowds to admire the cherry blossom and autumn foliage, come to Ōno Dam (大野ダム), which is just a 15-minute bus ride from JR Wachi Station (和知駅)! Completed in 1961, the dam located upstream of the Yura River (由良川) is a multipurpose dam that plays an essential role in flood control in the area.
Around the banks of the splendid dam lake – Nijinoko (虹の湖), meaning rainbow lake, there are around 1,000 cherry trees planted from when construction was completed.
So if you ever arrive in the city center of Kyoto late for the cherry blossom season, then make an effort and come to Ōno Dam. The flowers there usually peak around a week later than the trees closer to Kyoto Station!
To enjoy the autumn color, you can take a trek along Nijinoko. The approximately 6 km promenade surrounding the lake will take you around two hours to return to the bus stop. You can also cut the course short and head back once you reach Ōno Dam instead of trekking further into the forest.
HERE is the map of the area. The bus stop is marked by a white lollypop-like stand. There are a couple of lookouts around Niji no Hiroba (虹の広場) close to Ōno Dam for a wide view of the dam and surrounding nature!
Cherry Blossom and Autumn Foliage Festivals at Ōno Dam
A cherry blossom festival is usually held in early April each year for people to gather and adore the beautiful scenery created by nature.
Temporary stalls selling local specialties and mouthwatering food are also there to make the event even more interesting and enjoyable! At night, the trees will be illuminated, creating gorgeous reflections on the lake’s surface!
For the exact date and more information about this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival, please refer to the official website HERE!
The cherry blossom season at Ōno Dam usually starts from early to mid-April.
In mid-November, when the autumn color is at its brightest, it is when the Autumn Leaves Festival is held.
Again, the event will see both the locals and tourists gather together for some delicious food while enjoying the breathtaking painting created by nature.
For more information, please refer to the official website HERE!
How to Get to Ōno Dam
From JR Wachi Station (和知駅), change for Nantan Municipal Bus’ (南丹市営バス) Ōno Line (大野線) and get off at Ōno Dam (大野ダム).
The number of services is limited, so please refer to the timetable HERE and click “時刻表” to plan. As the timetable is only in Japanese, please use the bus stop’s Japanese name to read.
- For weekdays
- Refer to the first table on page 5 for services departing from Wachi Station.
- Refer to the second last blue table on the right on page 5 for services departing for Wachi Station.
- For Saturdays
- Refer to the first table on the right on page 6 for services departing from Wachi Station.
- Refer to the last blue table on the right on page 6 for services departing for Wachi Station.
Ōno Dam Visitor Center’s (大野ダムビジターセンター) Opening Hours
- From April to November: 9:30 am to 5 pm
- From December to March: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
- The center is closed from the 28th of December to the 4th of January.
Discover Other Stunning off the Beaten Track in Nantan City
Obviously Ōno Dam isn’t the only amazing natural attraction in Nantan City. In fact, the city actually houses one of Japan’s few thatched-roof house villages and a stunning valley throughout the year!
For more information, please refer to our article on Nantan City (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.