Autumn in Kyoto Information • Simply One Cookbook


Discover the highest spots to see the golden yellow and orange hues and crimson purple maple leaves throughout autumn in Kyoto.

Double circle window with autumn leaves reflected in the table

Be a part of me for half one among a four-part sequence exploring the highest spots to see the golden yellow and orange hues and crimson purple maple leaves within the historic capital of Kyoto.

Autumn is undoubtedly one of the crucial spectacular, ephemeral, and thrilling occasions of the yr in Japan. In case you search on-line, Kyoto will seemingly pop up because the go-to vacation spot to see 紅葉 (kōyō – autumn leaves or foliage) in Japan. I had the pleasure of exploring the historic temples and shrines buried among the many autumnal tapestry of crimson reds and golden yellows for one week.

Overlooking the autumn leaves at Enkouji and Kyoto with mountains in the background at sunset.

All through this 4 half sequence, I’ll let you know when one of the best time to go is, share some suggestions and tips for having fun with 紅葉, and at last, spotlight the highest spots in Kyoto and embody one bonus episode in Osaka.

  • Autumn in Kyoto Information
  • Kyoto Arashiyama Journey Information
  • Uji Journey Information: Matcha and Autumn Leaves
  • Osaka Autumn Journey Information

For half one, I’ll discover Kyoto and allow you to know in regards to the spots you need to embody in your subsequent autumn itinerary. So, let’s get into the motion!

When Is Autumn Leaf Season in Kyoto?

As a basic rule of thumb, Kyoto’s foliage begins round mid-November and ends in early December. Nevertheless, it varies from yr to yr, a variability additional influenced by Kyoto’s unpredictable climate situations. Throughout my travels from the 18th to the twenty fifth of November, temperatures fluctuated between 0°C (32°F) on some nights and 20°C (68°F) on others. This temperature disparity had an influence on this yr’s foliage, with many information retailers reporting much less vivid colours than in earlier years and a barely delayed peak season.

101 Places to Visit in Tokyo ebook

Autumn leaves with stone torii gate in the background

It’s essential to notice that Kyoto is a big metropolis with numerous spots to take pleasure in foliage. Whereas one place might not exhibit any coloration change, one other space could also be in its peak season.

Nonetheless, I like to recommend checking autumn coloration reviews on-line and Instagram posts to plan your go to accordingly. In case you plan to e-book months upfront, I’d counsel aiming for late November to early December.

Tricks to Get pleasure from Autumn Leaves in Kyoto

Avoiding the Crowds

One factor you’ll instantly discover is that there are LOTS of individuals. In common areas equivalent to Kyoto’s well-known geisha district, Gion, you’ll encounter shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, which could be overwhelming and detract from the joy of the autumn leaves.

The primary solution to keep away from the crowds is to reach early. Many temples and shrines open between 8 am and 9 am, so I like to recommend visiting as quickly as they open. You’ll be capable to roam the grounds freely with only a few folks in comparison with the height hours within the afternoon. Observe that common areas equivalent to Kinkaku-ji can be busy irrespective of the time.


To get from one facet of Kyoto to the opposite, you’ll need to take a number of buses and trains. Mixed with the crowds, it could simply turn out to be tiresome. To maximise your time in Kyoto and totally take within the autumn colours, planning is essential.

Earlier than arriving in Kyoto, you’ll want to analysis spots which might be inside shut proximity to one another. Break up your days into completely different areas of the town, for instance, north, east, south, and west. Not solely will you reduce journey stress, however additionally, you will maximize your time gazing on the autumn leaves. Study extra about how one can get round Kyoto right here.


Whereas a number of the extra well-known areas, equivalent to Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, are must-visits, Kyoto is stuffed with numerous smaller parks, shrines, and temples which might be typically left unexplored and are simply as picturesque. Throughout my journey, I regularly found tucked-away spots whereas strolling between areas, which had little to no folks however showcased a number of the most spectacular autumn surroundings. Don’t be afraid to enterprise away from the favored spots and discover the entire metropolis!

Tofuku-Ji Temple

Situated on the southeast facet of Kyoto is Tofuku-Ji, a Zen temple famously recognized for its autumn colours.

Autumn leaves and wooden bridge in the background

Development of the temple started in 1236 underneath the directions of Kujo Michiie of the Fujiwara Clan and was accomplished in 1255. The purpose was to create a temple much like the 2 nice temples of Nara, Todaiji, and Kofukuji, with Tofuku-Ji being a mixture of the 2.

Ninna-Ji entrance gate

The temple advanced contains a number of buildings, such because the spectacular Sammon Gate and the serene Honbo Backyard. You’ll additionally discover some small cafes, and on the time, there was a flea market promoting native items as properly.

Nevertheless, the primary attraction throughout autumn is the Tsutenkyo Bridge and the myriad of gardens past. To enter, there may be an admission charge of 600 yen for adults and 300 yen for kids.

Upon getting into, you’re greeted by dozens of maple timber that engulf you in a blanket of crimson purple.

The backyard meanders down right into a small valley, the place you’ll be able to see the autumn leaves in all their glory so far as the attention can see.

The trail will lead you to Kaisando, a small temple, the place you’ll be able to sit and soak within the surroundings.

Then on to Tsutenkyo Bridge, which is able to lead you to a spectacular view over all of the autumn leaves. From right here, it seems like clouds of reds, oranges, and yellows.

On the opposite facet, you’ll be able to see the Tofuku-ji Gaunkyo Bridge, which passes simply exterior the temple grounds.

Tofuku-Ji was one among my favourite spots of the entire journey, as I had by no means seen that quantity of Momiji on prime of the attractive structure and setting.

Autumn leaves and wooden bridge in the background

Daigo Ji Temple

Situated slightly additional east of Tofuku-ji is Daigo-Ji, based by Shōbō Rigen Daishi, the disciple of Japan’s most well-known monk, Kūkai. Legend has it that the encircling spring water was as candy as nectar, incomes the temple the title Daigo Ji, that means “beautiful style.”

Man walking towards temple gate

The temple was formally in-built 874, boasting a wealthy historical past of 1,150 years, and is dwelling to greater than 150,000 preserved cultural property, together with a document of 75,537 Nationwide Treasures. Moreover, in 1994, Daigo Ji was added to the checklist of UNESCO World Heritage Websites.

Temple gate with gold decorations

The primary temple grounds are situated on the foot of Daigo Mountain, with varied mountaineering trails main up the mountain to a number of extra temples.

Japanese temple roof detail

There’s a 500 yen admission charge to enter the temple grounds.

Upon getting into the grounds, you’ll be greeted by a hall of autumn leaves guiding you to Goju-no-to, a five-story pagoda in-built 951. It’s additionally recognized for being the oldest construction in Kyoto, having survived many fires and wars previously.

Five story pagoda next to autumn leaves

The trail will then information you to Sanboin, the previous residence of the pinnacle priest, initially constructed in 1115.

The temple and exquisite backyard have been reconstructed for the nice feudal lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s (1537-1598) cherry blossom viewing social gathering in 1598.

You may sit, calm down, and benefit from the gorgeous surroundings because the autumn foliage displays and glistens within the pond under.

The view was one of the crucial picturesque throughout my journey, so I made a decision to come back again within the night to affix the particular autumn light-up.

Kiyomizu-Dera Temple

No journey to Kyoto is full with out a go to to Kiyomizu-Dera Temple. I knew it was going to be busy so I made a decision to make it a brief journey to indicate you what it’s like in the course of the autumn season. Main as much as the temple, there are the slender streets of Gion, lined with varied outlets, cafes, and eating places. These streets are shoulder-to-shoulder packed full of individuals, so if you happen to don’t like crowds, this is probably not for you.

Kiyomizu-Dera Temple wooden terrace overlooking autumn leaves and Kyoto city

Contained in the temple grounds, you’ll be capable to see the gorgeous purple momiji (maple leaves) with the backdrop of the town and mountains.

Three storied pagoda surrounded by autumn leaves

Throughout the night there may be additionally a particular light-up present the place you’ll be able to benefit from the autumn leaves underneath the night time sky.

Kiyomizu-Dera is undoubtedly lovely in autumn and is price a go to if in case you have by no means been earlier than. Simply be conscious of the massive crowds.

You may learn extra in regards to the temple itself in our Kyoto Journey Information right here.

Nanzen-Ji Temple

Subsequent on the checklist is the Higashiyama space, well-known for housing a number of the most famous spots in Kyoto, equivalent to Ginkaku-Ji, The Thinker’s Path, and Nanzen-Ji Temple, which is the place we’ll begin (we additionally coated Nanzen-Ji in-depth in our Kyoto Journey Information).

If you’re coming from Kiyomizu Dera, you’ll move by way of the Gion space, Yasaka Shrine and Maruyama Park. Cease by to benefit from the outdated streets and the enjoyable autumn surroundings on the park.

Upon getting into the Nanzen-Ji Temple, you’ll first come throughout the 22-meter-tall Sanmon entrance gate.

You may enter contained in the gate (600 yen admission charge) and climb as much as the balcony, granting a view of the temple grounds and Kyoto metropolis. Observe that the steps inside are very steep, and the ceilings are low.

Across the temple grounds, you’ll be able to take pleasure in all of the colourful autumn leaves and varied smaller temples and gardens.

One common spot is the Suirokaku, a Roman-style Aqueduct. It’s a well-known photo-taking spot and has some lovely autumn foliage, making it much more picturesque.

Contained in the Hojo, the previous head priest’s residence, and Nanzenji’s predominant corridor, you’ll be able to benefit from the intricate inside structure and design, from the gorgeous fusuma (painted sliding doorways) to the out of doors picket walkways.

The rock backyard is the standout characteristic, with its structure resembling tigers and cubs crossing by way of water.

Kodai-ji Temple

Kodai-Ji Temple was established in 1606 in reminiscence of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. For 600 yen, you’ll be able to enter Kodai-Ji’s Hojo (predominant corridor), the place you’ll be able to roam varied buildings and gardens. Whereas the within was initially coated in lavish lacquer and chic gold, after a number of fires, the construction was rebuilt extra modestly.

Kodai-ji garden with autumn leaves

From contained in the Hojo, you’ll be able to admire the huge rock gardens, raked and designed to characterize the ocean. Throughout the night, there’s a particular illumination and light-weight projection occasion.

Rock garden

Exterior, you’ll be able to stroll across the Tsukiyama-style backyard, a basic sort of Japanese backyard that embodies a miniature of pure surroundings.

Created from man-made hills, ornamental rocks, mirror-like ponds, and numerous maple and pine timber, the backyard seems like a tranquil retreat from the crowds within the metropolis.

To not point out, there’s a small bamboo forest like in Arashiyama!

Bamboo forest

Koknai Komyou-ji Temple

I’ve sung my praises for a lot of completely different locations over on this autumn in Kyoto information, however the subsequent three areas maintain a particular place on this journey.

Whereas most Kyoto itineraries will embody well-known spots equivalent to Kiyomizu-Dera and Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Pavilion), a number of the finest spots can typically be discovered simply by randomly exploring. Whereas within the Higashiyama space, I had some spare time, so I began to discover a number of the again streets.

Temple gate

I occurred to stumble throughout Koknai Komyou-ji Temple, based in 1175. At first, you’re greeted by a two-story ceremonial gate on the temple advanced’s entrance, built-in 1860.

Person standing in front of a temple entrance gate lined with red autumn leaves

Whereas the temples is probably not essentially the most spectacular in comparison with different areas, there was an air of tranquility, making it an excellent getaway from the crowds whereas nonetheless having fun with Kyoto’s wealthy historical past and autumn surroundings.

Eishoin Temple

After leaving Koknai Komyou-ji Temple, I stumbled throughout a slender, unassuming facet road resulting in Eishoin Temple, in-built 1589 by Morikatsu Kimata.

Narrow stone pathway leading to temple entrance gate

Strolling down the slender path and thru the small gate, the breathtaking backyard revealed itself.

A Buddha statue overlooking the backyard was nestled away within the autumn leaves.

There’s a picket terrace-style bench that’s free to take a seat on. Once I arrived, there was just one particular person there studying their e-book.

Together with the sound of singing birds and the serene environment, it felt like this was Kyoto.

Please observe that the backyard is just open throughout autumn.

Shinsou Gokuraku-Ji Temple

Just a bit additional up was Shinsou Gokuraku-Ji Temple, in-built 984 by the monk Kaisan.

Red temple entrance gate

The temple grounds are coated in a blanket of reds, oranges, and yellows, with a stupendous three-storied pagoda protruding by way of the highest of the maple timber.

There are benches and locations to cease, relaxation, and admire the surroundings.

Strolling by way of, it felt like I used to be a part of the folks of Kyoto’s each day life. Individuals walked their canine, loved picnics, and sat on the benches, watching time move.

Eikando Temple

Many temples, shrines, and parks have particular light-up illuminations from late October to early December. Some final for the entire interval, whereas some are solely open for per week.

Illuminated red autumn leaves at night

As I used to be within the Highashiyama space, I visited the Eikando illuminations. Despite the fact that I arrived half-hour earlier than opening, there was already a queue of round 200 folks, which slowly grew longer and longer.

Contained in the grounds, whilst you can benefit from the magical night time surroundings, there have been no spots to calm down due to the crowds.

Illuminated temple during night time

Probably the most spectacular spot was the Hojo Pond, the place you’ll be able to benefit from the reflections of the autumn leaves within the pond.

There’s additionally a small space promoting sweets and drinks and seating to relaxation.

The crowds of individuals could be overwhelming, and at occasions, I felt as if I used to be being rushed by way of. Nevertheless, Eikando is definitely worth the go to, particularly the Hojo Pond.

Colorful autumn leaves illuminated at night with a shrine in the background


The encircling mountains of Arashiyama that line the Katsura River supply a number of the most spectacular autumn surroundings within the metropolis. From the banks of the river and Tsutenkyo Bridge, you’ll be able to gaze upon the burning crimson reds and hues of orange and yellow that cascade down the mountain sides and glisten within the water.


You may even rise up shut with the maple timber by partaking in a river cruise or renting a rowing boat and having fun with the surroundings from the water. Together with the heat of the solar, cool autumn breeze, and the sound of flowing water, Arashiyama is a must-visit.

Boats cruising along the river with autumn leaves

Whereas the realm is understood for its bamboo forest, it doesn’t change a lot in the course of the autumn season. Nevertheless, there are a number of shrines and temples that encompass the realm, the place you’ll be able to escape the crowds and calm down with the autumn colours. There’s rather more to discover apart from the bamboo forest that I’ll cowl in a devoted Arashiyama submit, coming quickly.


Ninna-Ji’s historical past dates again to 888, and it’s one among Kyoto’s nice temples listed as a World Heritage Web site. It serves as the pinnacle temple of the Omuro Faculty of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Many temples throughout Japan belong to the Omuro Faculty, with quite a few clergymen visiting Ninna-Ji for examine and coaching.

Because of the many wars and fires all through Kyoto’s wealthy historical past, all the unique buildings have been destroyed. The longest-standing buildings date again to the early 1600s within the Edo Interval.

Ninna-Ji entrance

The primary attraction of Ninna-Ji is the Goten, the previous residence of the pinnacle priest. The Goten is linked by a sequence of coated corridors.

Entrance to the old residence house in Ninna-Ji

All through the Goten, you’ll find lovely fusuma (painted sliding doorways), historic artifacts, and conventional structure whereas having fun with the encircling gardens.

Though Ninna-Ji is most well-known for its cherry blossom season, I discovered that the autumnal colours enhanced the wonder and class of the temple’s structure, and there have been only a few folks there!

Scattered across the grounds are varied shrines, a five-story pagoda, and a museum.

You may as well calm down and revel in some drinks and meals on the cafe.

You’ll additionally be capable to discover some Yae-zakura (double cherry blossom), which bloom as soon as in spring and once more in autumn!

For adults, there may be an 800 yen entrance charge for the Ninna-Ji grounds and Goten, with an additional 500 yen to enter the Reiho-Kan Museum. Admission is free for kids.


Ryoan-Ji homes one among Japan’s most well-known rock gardens and was established by Hosokawa Katsumoto, the deputy to the Ashikaga shoguns in 1450. It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Web site. Initially a villa, Kasumoto invited the Zen Priest Giten Gensho to assist remodel it right into a temple.

Wooden gate entrance with overhanging maple trees

If you enter Ryoan-Ji by way of the San-Mon (predominant gate), you’ll see the pathway shrouded in maple timber.

To the left, you’ll have a view of Kyoyochi Pond, that includes a small shrine on one among its three little islands that may be accessed over a bridge.

Following the pathway, you’ll attain the Hojo, the pinnacle priest’s former residence with the well-known rock backyard.

Contained in the Hojo, you’ll be able to marvel on the fabulous fusuma and tatami rooms.

Additionally, you will be capable to benefit from the well-known rock backyard. The that means of the backyard is unclear, with some saying that it represents a sequence of mountain heads showing by way of a sea of clouds. Others say it’s a tiger carrying cubs throughout a pond, whereas some say it represents infinity. Nonetheless, it’s mesmerizing.

You may sit alongside the picket walkway, soaking in its tranquility, and watch the leaves cascade down from the overhanging timber.

Across the temple grounds, you’ll be able to benefit from the surrounding nature and varied buildings.

There’s additionally a restaurant specializing in Yudofu (boiled tofu), a Kyoto specialty, however it was closed because it was early within the morning.

There’s a 600 yen admission charge for adults.


Earlier than my journey, I requested a good friend residing in Kyoto for suggestions, and she or he couldn’t sing sufficient reward for Enkouji.

Based in 1601 by Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, Enkouji was constructed as an academic establishment. The temple printed quite a few books equivalent to “The Faculty Sayings of Confucius” and “Necessities of the Zhenguan Interval Authorities,” with the unique picket printing blocks saved contained in the temple.

Upon getting into the grounds, you’ll come throughout Honryutei, a rock and sand zen backyard. The swirl and circulation of the sand characterize a sea of clouds, with the organized stones symbolizing a dragon flying freely within the sky.

Stone and sand garden that looks like a dragon emerging from the clouds.

The trail results in Jyu-gyu no niwa, a round backyard that represents the trail to enlightenment.

You may enter the encircling buildings and get picture-frame views of the backyard.You’ll additionally discover a patch of bamboo timber much like the Arashiyama bamboo forest.

Climbing up the steps, you’ll be able to take pleasure in panoramic views over the town, lovely autumn leaves, and Enkouji.

In 2023, guests needed to reserve a ticket on-line (1,000 yen for adults and 500 yen for kids) to enter Enkouji throughout autumn. It’s attainable to enter by way of tickets on the door, however it depends upon the present capability. Yow will discover extra particulars on their web site.


Situated roughly an hour away from central Kyoto, Sanzen-in Temple is located within the small rural city of Ohara. It was initially established as a hermitage by Saicho (767-822), who launched Tendai Buddhism to Japan in 804. The temple advanced options varied gardens, strolling trails, and buildings to discover, with a 700 yen admission charge.

Entrance to Sanzen-in with maple leaves overhanging

The winding path main as much as Sanzen-in is lined with outlets and eating places.

The primary main constructing on the grounds is the Kyakuden (visitor corridor), which reveals calligraphy works and fusuma.

Calligraphy works and small shrine

It then opens as much as Shuhekien Backyard, the place you’ll be able to take pleasure in some matcha and wagashi (conventional Japanese sweets) on the corridor terrace.

Connecting subsequent to the Kyakuden is the Shinden (predominant corridor), which reveals three Buddhist deities: Amida Buddha, Kannon, and Fudo Myoo.

The Shinden leads down into the moss backyard, the place you’ll be able to see Ojo Gokuraku-in Corridor, the oldest temple constructing in Sanzen-in.

From right here, you’ll be able to stroll across the varied gardens and trails, having fun with the autumn foliage.

After you’ve completed exploring, you’ll be able to cease by one of many many eating places and outlets. Decide up some souvenirs or bask in some Nishin Soba (mackerel buckwheat noodles), a Kyoto specialty.

Soba noodles topped with mackarel and green onion

As Sanzen-in is situated slightly additional up north, the autumn leaves coloration slightly sooner than in central Kyoto. Sadly, I believe I went a bit too early! Nonetheless, Sanzen-in was one of the crucial lovely temple complexes I visited throughout my time in Kyoto. The simplest solution to get to Sanzen-in is to take the quantity 17 bus from Kyoto Station to Ohara, which is able to take slightly over an hour. From the Ohara bus cease, it’s a 12-minute stroll.

Kifune Shrine

To get to Kifune Shrine, board the Eizan Kurama Line from Demachi-Yanagi Station to Kibune-guchi Station, taking round half-hour. From the station, it’s a 25-minute scenic stroll to Kifune Shrine.

Moreover, the Eizan practice runs by way of a tunnel of 280 Japanese maple timber between Ichihara Station and Ninose Station. When driving the practice, you’ll be able to benefit from the scenic experience in the course of the day or night when it’s magically illuminated. Nevertheless, it’s VERY common, and regardless of what some social media posts might present, the practice is extraordinarily busy in the course of the autumn season.

Red umbrellas

Kifune Shrine is devoted to the god of water and rain and is believed to be the protector of these at sea. It’s stated {that a} goddess traveled up from Osaka, alongside the river, together with her journey ending in northern Kyoto. Kifune Shrine was constructed at this closing location.

Main as much as the shrine are a number of ryokans (conventional Japanese inns), eating places, and cafes. Throughout the summer time months, eating places supply out of doors seating on the river, the place guests can take pleasure in a meal because the water flows beneath them.

Alongside the path, cease by for a snack or some conventional Japanese sweets equivalent to Matcha Zenzai.

A set of stairs lined by lanterns and maple timber mark the doorway to the primary shrine, Yui no Yashiro. Right here you may make your needs and prayers and likewise benefit from the surrounding surroundings from the statement deck.

In case you hike one other kilometer up, there’s the unique grounds of the shrine, Okunomiya. On the time, there was a small market, promoting meals and domestically made items.

Regardless of being only a quick practice experience away, Kifune Shrine feels worlds away from the bustling heart of Kyoto. There’s something tranquil and calming in regards to the stroll and shrine itself. If you wish to get away from the town, then Kifune Shrine is a must-visit for you.

A heron catching a fish

Get pleasure from Autumn in Kyoto – Koyo

Kyoto’s autumn is actually particular and I hope this information evokes you to go discover the historic metropolis. It has numerous spots throughout the town which might be price visiting, so it’s arduous to suit into simply two posts! At occasions it may be overwhelming. In my subsequent submit, I’ll introduce tips about having fun with one of many metropolis’s hottest areas, Arashiyama, and the highest spots you need to go to.

When you’ve got any questions on visiting Kyoto, depart them within the feedback under.



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