NAVITIME Travel - Japan Travel Guides, Transit Search and Itinerary Planner

Five places to see fall colors in Kyoto

As sunset comes earlier and earlier, and cool breezes come down from the mountains, trees across Japan begin to change from green to red, touching off the annual pilgrimage to view the autumn foliage. The forested hills and natural parks of the Japanese countryside are popular for viewing the red leaves, but Kyoto with its many well-treed temple yards is also a fine place to experience the seasonal phenomenon of koyo.

Here are five spots in Kyoto to watch the seasons change.

Five places to see fall colors in Kyoto

Index

  • Kiyomizudera

  • Shinnyo-do Temple

  • Kodaiji and Gesshin-in

  • Ryoanji

  • Nanzenji

  • Kiyomizudera

    Kiyomizudera

    Kiyomizudera

    Putting Kiyomizudera on a list of places to go in Kyoto is like suggesting the Champs-Élysées when you hear a friend is going to Paris—it’s a no-brainer and most visitors to the city end up there, at some point. But not many think of it as a place to see autumn foliage. With grounds packed with a surplus of big maple trees, Kiyomizudera is bathed in red leaves starting around the end of November. If you arrive at the right time of year, the view from Kiyomizu no butai, Kiyomizudera’s famed wooden stage, is particularly fiery. It can be tough to get the timing right, when visiting Kyoto’s famous sights at this time of year, and it’s best to err on the side of coming later in the year—it can often be the case that things have slowed down once the leaves in the surrounding hills are past their prime (meaning thinner crowds and inexpensive hotels), but there is still technicolor foliage in the city.

    Kiyomizu-dera Temple
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Kiyomizu 1-294
    Phone
    0755511234
  • Shinnyo-do Temple

    Shinnyo-do Temple

    Shinnyo-do Temple

    Shinnyo-do Temple is one of those spots that might not be on the itinerary of the casual visitor to the city but whose transformation in the autumn is breathlessly anticipated by devoted koyo heads. The grounds are teeming with tripod and DSLR-toting foliage fans beginning from the end of November to the start of December, when the hundreds of maples on the grounds go up like a torch in countless shades of crimson. The truth is, crowds in Kyoto during koyo season are unavoidable—but that’s part of the experience!

    Shinnyo-do Temple

    Shinnyo-do Temple

    Shinshogokuraku-ji Temple (Shin’nyo-do)
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Joudojishinnyochou 82
    Phone
    0757710915
  • Kodaiji and Gesshin-in

    Kodaiji and Gesshin-in

    Kodaiji and Gesshin-in

    The gardens of Kodaiji are justly famous, including an expansive dry Zen garden, as well as a hill garden (tsukiyama) with ponds and lawns, and it’s become a major destination for koyo pilgrims. Stop by Kodaiji first and then take the opportunity to nip around to the lesser known Gesshin-in (perhaps as an alternative to visiting nearby Maruyama Park). A rather nondescript temple along Nene no Michi (Pico Iyer calls it “eminently missable”), Gesshin-in’s quiet inner garden is home to maples that are surely cousins to the ones in the gardens of neighboring Kodaiji.

    Kodai-ji Zen Temple
    Address
    Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto-shi Higashiyama-ku Kodaiji Shimogawara-machi 526
    Phone
    0755619966
    goryoejitonsho kodaiji tukimakotoin
    Address
    Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City Kodai-ji Shimogawara town 528
    Phone
  • Ryoanji

    Ryoanji

    Ryoanji

    The dry garden at Ryoanji makes it a destination year-round, but it has other charms as the cold season approaches and the trees on the grounds change colors. The same advice as always: come as early in the day as possible. Walk around the expansive park on the grounds, where the maples and gingkos put on their autumn show.

    Ryoanji Temple
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Ukyou-ku Ryouanji Otoritoshita 13
    Phone
    0754632216
  • Nanzenji

    Nanzenji

    Nanzenji

    Early on a late autumn morning, there are few activities more idyllic than strolling Philosopher's Path (Tetsugaku no Michi) south of Ginkakuji. The walk has views of temple grounds with maples in autumn foliage and ends at Nanzenji. In koyo season, as soon as the temple opens (around 8:30am), crowds begin to form around the temple’s historic buildings and in the gardens on the grounds.

    Nanzen-ji Zen Temple
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Nanzenjifukuchichou
    Phone
    0757710365
  • Facebookでシェアする
  • Twitterでシェアする