No trip to Japan would feel complete to us without a visit to Kyoto, but the price of hotel rooms seemed incredibly high for this trip. I searched and searched, but the reasonably priced places looked unappealing. Finally I happened upon a special deal for the Grand Prince Kyoto Hotel which is located way, way out in North Kyoto at the very end of the Karasuma subway line near the Kyoto International Conference Center.

What a find! I think this was the nicest hotel we've ever stayed in. The room was huge, and we had a lovely view of trees with brightly colored autumn leaves. The room cost even included admission to an impressive breakfast buffet.

Our friend Yoshimi had graciously offered to spend a day showing us around Ohara - an autumn leaf, temple-packed area in the mountains of northern Kyoto. After enjoying the massive breakfast buffet, we met her and the incredibly adorable Miho in the hotel lobby. We boarded a nearby bus, and we were soon stepping out into the pleasant little town.

Most of the temples in the area are located in one direction, but we headed in the opposite direction to the small temple of Jakko-in. We walked down a path beside a field of purple daisy-like flowers past a stream and a small waterfall.

Walt had been getting a lot of flak on Facebook for not smiling in pictures, so Yoshimi showed him some Japanese picture- posing techniques.

Thanks to the yearly Taiga drama shown on KIKU television in Hawaii, we were able to appreciate the historic significance of Jakko-in. This is where Kenreimon-in Tokuko, daughter of Taira no Kiyomori, retreated from the world after she was rescued from her attempted suicide after the death of her husband and young son. She spent the remainder of her life here praying for their souls and those of other family members who died when the Heike clan was defeated by Minamoto no Yoshitsue at the battle of Dan-no-ura.

A steep set of stone steps leads up to the gate of the temple.

After passing through the gate, you find yourself in a pleasant little garden.

Sadly, the main hall of the temple was destroyed by fire in 2000. Another victim of the fire was a 1000 year old tree.

There is a lovely wooded area behind the temple with enticing paths and steps leading up into the mountains.

We ate lunch in a charming little cafe. The seating arrangement was a mix of regular tables and chairs along with sofas and coffee tables. We relaxed on a sofa and enjoyed the delicious meal.

After lunch we headed for the cluster of temples at the other side of town. Here the temples seemed to merge into each other, but I think this is the gate of Sanzen-in.

There is a platform here for viewing the beautiful garden.

There is a moss garden just outside the main hall.

These curious statues are found at the far end of the moss garden.

This is a cup of a sort of broth with gold flakes in it that is offered to visitors. It tasted kind of salty.

The picture on the right is a row of miniature Kannon images.

We walked down a path through the trees to a small stream where we discovered this stone Buddha in a small pavilion.

I was impressed by this bronze image of Benzaiten. Wikipedia tells me that she is "the goddess of everything that flows: water, time, words, speech, eloquence, music and by extension, knowledge."

Ohara is a wonderful place to visit, and our day with Yoshimi and Miho was another highlight of our trip. Here's one final picture of us.