Oharame Festival 2019-See a Procession of Traditional Farming Ladies in Kyoto



Oharame Festival is a celebration that you must see if you like Japanese culture and history. Tourist spots make a major topic for popular songs. Especially, Japanese “enka (演歌)” ballads often feature some places famous for their historical backgrounds or scenic beauty. In 1965, an enka ballad went on sale. And its lyrics were about a broken-hearted woman wandering around three small temples in Kyoto. The song was catchy enough to promote the local towns where the temples are located. It became so popular that several singers had the ballad arranged to cover on their own albums. In the first verse of the song, called Onna Hitori (A Woman Traveling Alone to Heal her Broken Heart), appears Sanzen-in Temple in Ohara, a town nestled in the mountains of northern Kyoto.

This rural town courts a lot of female tourists from across the country and offers them services to experience its old customs of wearing in the Oharame style.

Things to Know Before Your Departure

• About Ohara Village

Sandwiched between the Hira-san-kei mountains to the east and the Kitayama mountains to the west, Ohara is a small farming village with a tranquil and rural landscape. It is famous for its many temples of historical significance. Ohara also has many “looks” as a rural retreat, tourist hotspot, an ancient training ground of spiritual music – “shomyo (声明)”. Also, it is the resting place for Imperial people who lost their lives in the battle in the Kamakura period of the 13th century. Especially, the superb Sanzen-in Temple is a great spot in the area which appears in a pop music like “Onna Hitori”.

• About Oharame

The last two letters “me (女)” in the word Oharame refers to a woman in English. So, “Ohara-me” literally means women from Ohara. But there is actually more to them than just that.

In medieval times, Ohara used to be a famous production area of firewood, which circulated as quality charcoal for fuel around Yamashiro Province (the southern part of current Kyoto Prefecture). A lot of women engaged in farm working there often went peddling firewood from place to place in Kyo (the central part of current Kyoto City). The word Oharame originated from those female firewood paddlers from Ohara.

• Typical Costumes as Oharame Peddlers

Oharame peddlers wore a pompadour-like hair style – the Shimada (Japanese chignon) style. It was popular with unmarried common women in the Edo period, especially young girls in their late teens. The hair is gathered at the crown of the head and a small portion of the bun is slightly raised off to point upward when it is arranged in the traditional style. Oharame made trips to and from Kyo with towels wrapped around their arranged hair and bundles of firewood or brushwood placed on their heads. Originally, they blackened their teeth and wore a tight-sleeved kimono with white leggings underneath. Oharame peddlers are often described in the literature, theatrical art, or painting such as ukiyo-e (浮世絵).

Festival Breakdown

• Oharame Festival

You can enjoy Oharame wearing experience for ¥1,500 (though for ¥2,500 regularly) during the period of biannual Oharame Festival, which takes place both in spring and in fall. The spring Oharame Festival 2019 is going to take place from April 20th to June 14th. (Don’t worry. Blackening your teeth isn’t on the list of things to wear.)

• Oharame “Jidai” Procession

There is a special walking event in spring and fall – Oharame “Jidai” Procession. (The walking event in spring 2019 is on May 11th.) A lot of women in Oharame costumes, young and old, walk down a two-kilometer route. It is like a gorgeous parade as seen in “Jidai Festival” in central Kyoto in October. Note that this is a women-only event. Here is a brief route and schedule.

• 10:00 Reception at Ohara-san-so
• 11:00 Changing clothes / Having lunch
• 12:30 Ready to start at Ohara-san-so
• 13:00 Starting parade

– Jakko-in (寂光院) Temple: Founded in 594, this temple is well-known as the nunnery where Empress Dowger Kenreimon-in (建礼門院), the daughter of Taira-no-Kiyomori (平清盛), the great samurai leader who established the first samurai administrative government. She spent the last years of her life in this temple. Other members of her family were all killed in the historic naval battle of Dan-no-ura in 1185.

– Sanzen-in (三千院) Temple: It is an over-one-thousand-year-old temple, established by Saicho (最澄), a great Buddhist monk recognized for founding the Tendai School of Buddhism. The Buddhism supremacy allowed the temple to receive such popular support that it became a “monzeki-jiin (門跡寺院)” as a high-ranking temple headed by a priest from the imperial or noble family. The temple has several well-kept gardens that reflect the beauty of each season. Hydrangeas for early summer and yellow and crimson leaves in fall.

– Shorin-in (勝林院) Temple: This is also a Tendai School Buddhist Temple, founded by Ennin (円仁), a Buddhist monk who started his priesthood at Enryaku-ji (延暦寺) at the age of 14. It is famous for shomyo (声明) or traditional chanting of Buddhist hymns. Inside the Main Hall is the gorgeous Statue of “Nyorai (如来) Buddha, which attracts a lot of visitors.

• 15:00 Taking a group portrait at Shorin-in Temple.

Details and Access

• Dates: April 20th – June 14th (Oharame “Jidai” Profession 2019 will be held on May 11.)
• Place: Jakko-in Temple, Sanzen-in Temple, and other small temples
• Time: 13:00 – 15:00
• Participation Fee: ¥1,500
• Official website (Japanese only): https://kyoto-ohara-kankouhosyoukai.net/info/4065/
• Access (bus/railroad):
-From Kyoto Station
1. A 20-minute trip by subway (Karasuma Line) to Kokusai-kaikan Station.
2. A 20-minute bus ride on Kyoto Bus (No.19) to Ohara. (A 60-minute ride on No.17 bus service will take you directory to Ohara from Kyoto Station.)

Closing Remarks

Here is the Japanese lyrics of “Onna Hitori (女ひとり).”

京都 大原 三千院
Kyoto Ohara Sansen-in
Koi ni tsukareta Onna ga hitori
Yuki no shioze no sugaki no obi ga
Ike no minamo ni yurete ita

The English translation:

At Kyoto Ohara Sanzen-in temple
Stands a lone woman disappointed in love
Wearing a Yuki kimono with a simply dyed obi
Her reflection shimmers on the surface of the pond
How about checking this Japanese ballad for karaoke and seeing the YouTube video for practice as follows: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gyD1qQBY0tw. It is Sayuri Ishikawa who is singing in the video. She is one of the most famous female enka singers in Japan.

If you would like to participate in this traditional parade and explore Kyoto with a friendly local guide, please check the banner below!

All images are courtesy of Corpse Reviver

An Ultimate Idea Source for Your Kyoto Stay!

Kyoto is an old capital of Japan and a cultural and historical mecca for everyone who visits this country. It is the most popular city among tourists and a must-see destination indeed. Kyoto boasts over 4000 historical places including shrines, temples, and attracts visitors with its charming atmosphere of an ancient city. This city is great for shopping, bicycling, hiking, museums, galleries, green spaces, and features many famous festivals. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Kyoto! Please, have a look, URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/100-things-kyoto-sightseeing-spots-traditional-japanese-events

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URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/popular-kyoto-spring-events-festivals

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If you are planning to visit Japan this spring and want to discover more cherry blossoms spots in Kyoto area, please check the following article. It’s covering the best Hanami spots in the old capital and provides you with the essential information, so you can get the most from your Sakura trip!

Here`s the link. URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2566/ 

Osaka is very close to Kyoto. It will be a miss if you don’t visit Osaka to see cherry blossoms when you are in the Kansai area in spring. Please check the following article to find out the best cherry blossoms viewing spots in Osaka and Kansai!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/osaka-kansai-cherry-blossoms-spots-sakura-festivals-feel-spring 

Kyoto and Osaka have many beautiful spots to see Cherry blossoms. However, other areas also have excellent places for hanami. Tokyo features many of those spots as well! If you are in Tokyo around spring and looking for a place to see cherry blossoms, Why don’t you check the following article?

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/1805/


Have two kids. Teach English at an “eikaiwa” school more than a decade Love cake.

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