Tofuku-ji Temple is the first place that comes to mind for seeing autumnal leaves in Kyoto. Although the temple was known in the Muromachi era (fourteenth to sixteenth centuries) as a place to see cherry blossoms, the monks cut down the cherry blossom trees due to concerns that admirers would disturb their practice. In their place, maple trees multiplied until they reached the count today of some two thousand. In fall, many tourists come to Tsuten-kyo Bridge, the crossing of which is like crossing a sea of beautiful autumnal leaves. When you stand on the bridge, the colorful leaves completely blanket the ravine, a scene so astounding, it will take your breath away.
Sennyu-ji Temple stands quietly surrounded by trees. The autumn colors in Gozasho Garden, which is filled with graceful emotion, appear relatively early for Kyoto City, and the colors are widely known for their vividness. Although it is not large, as you walk along the corridor, the garden opens up before you.
• Take Keihan Electric Railway to Tofuku-ji Temple. It is a 10-minute walk.
• Take the JR Nara Line to Tofuku-ji Station. It is a 10-minute walk.
• Take Kyoto Bus 202/207/208 to the Sennyu-ji-michi bus stop. It is a seven-minute walk.
A ravine known as Kinunkei beneath the veranda of Kiyomizu-dera Temple is filled with a sea of autumnal colors. Evening illumination is provided on some days.
The chisen kaiyu-style garden has a pond with autumn trees planted around it. During the fall leaf season, the area is lit up, creating a magical atmosphere with the bright colors of trees reflected in the pond.
When you climb up to Sanmon, one of the three great gates of Japan, the view of red-colored leaves can be enjoyed in 360 degrees. Kabuki fans may be familiar with Ishikawa Goemon's line inspired by this place: "A magnificent view! A magnificent view!" Inside the premises, the combination of the brick aqueduct and fall foliage is a popular place to snap photos because of its old-fashioned feel.
There is no admission charge to the grounds.
Separate charges for Hojo Teien (Garden of the Abbot's Hall) and for San-mon Gate:
Adults: 500 yen
High school students: 400 yen
Elementary and junior high school students: 300 yen
The tree colors of autumn are so prominent here, Eikan-do Temple has been synonymous with autumn leaf viewing since days of yore. There are some three thousand maples on the grounds, which are lit up at night in fall. The temple grounds are on a mountain slope, and one never tires of the expansive premises that can be enjoyed, going up and down the walkways. Eikan-do Temple has an established reputation for beautiful fall colors even in "off" years for fall foliage.
Cherry blossom trees, maples, ginkgos and other trees fill the temple approach and the grounds with colors. From beside the well outside the main hall, the trees are red, yellow and green, an unusual lineup of distinct colors. When December arrives, the fallen leaves form a bright red carpet behind the main hall.
Not normally open to the public, Anraku-ji Temple makes a special exception for the foliage viewing season. The colors on the approach are beautiful along the gentle stone stairs. A talk is given on the origins of the temple at the main hall every 30 minutes starting at 10 o'clock each day.
9:30 a.m. to 4:30
Open to the public in fall 2012 only on the below days: All Saturdays, Sundays and holidays in November and Saturdays, Sundays in the start of December
An ancient temple that sits tranquilly on one side of the Philosopher's Walk. When you climb the stone-paved approach, the thatched front gate greets you with mountain village charm. In fall, many people who know Kyoto well come to see the leaves that have fallen on the roof of the simple front gate.
The finest temple in Rakuhoku. On the temple grounds, surrounded by fall foliage, the rock garden is a sight not to be missed. Located next to Daisho-in, the garden represents deep mountains and the ocean, nicely complementing the gentle fall colors. Made of white sand and trimmed rhododendrons, the elegance of the garden is captivating.
• 20-minute walk from Shugakuin Station on Eizan Electric Railway.
• Take Kyoto city bus 5/31/35/65 to the Ichijo-ji Shimizu-cho bus stop. It is a 20-minute walk.
Sekizan Zen-in Temple is one of the few locations where both kan-zakura cherry blossom trees and autumn colors can be enjoyed at the same time. The approach is covered in colored leaves in a spectacular fashion, and the Seven Lucky Gods, 16 Arhats, and the stone statues of the 33 avatars of Kannon which sit silently on the grounds are colored red and yellow when the leaves fall.
Jisso-in is a temple well-known for its yuka momiji (floor maples), the reflections of the trees in the black lacquered floors in fall. The bright, lustrous colors of the leaves have the appearance of an impressionist painting, matching the solemn atmosphere of the temple with their grace. There is a garden pond with a path around it in the chisen kaiyu style, and there are two rock gardens, providing different ways to enjoy the charms of fall foliage.
Between Ichihara and Ninose Stations on the Eizan Electric Railway, there is a stretch of about 250 meters with thickly growing trees on both sides called the Momiji (Maple Tree) Tunnel. The railway line is illuminated during the kibune maple lantern event. All lights are turned off and the train runs at a leisurely pace through this stretch to allow passengers to fully enjoy the mystical view from the windows.
The expansive grounds include some one thousand Japanese maples, known as yama momiji, and provide many wonderful places to see. The red and yellow trees that spread their branches among the Japanese cedars are stunningly beautiful. The garden, centered around Ojo Gokuraku-in, presents a vivid contrast of green moss and red and yellow tree leaves. During the fall season, seating for tea is provided.
Alongside the approach that leads to front is a brook with water that sounds like a koto, giving this hill the name Kotozaka. The trees here form a beautiful tunnel of color.
Since 2007, the historical earthwork "Odoi" has been open to the general public as a maple tree garden, and has become one of Kyoto's newest attractions for fall foliage. Maples and other trees planted by Sugawara no Michizane in Odoi long ago are filled with the colors of deep crimson and yellow. The Kamiya-gawa River runs through, and the leaves reflect in its surface for a pleasant atmosphere. Evening illumination is provided on some days.
• Five-minute walk from Kitano Hakubai-cho Station on the Keifuku Electric Railroad (Arashiyama Electric Tram Railway) Kitano Line.
• Take Kyoto city bus 10/50/101/102/203 to the Kitano Tenman-gu-mae bus stop.
Since the Heian era, many nobles built villas near Togetsu-kyo Bridge, and in recent years, the area has become known as an excellent place to see the fall colors. The colors of the trees in the mountain upstream of the bridge are the best of all.
Located on the side of mountain overlooking the Yamashina basin, Bishamon-do Temple is well known for its weeping cherry blossom trees in spring and the beautifully colored foliage in fall. (And while looking up at the brilliant leaves is wonderful, enjoying them on the ground has a charm of its own, too!) The flagstone approach to the temple is covered with vermillion leaves. Walking along it while listening to the crackle of leaves underfoot makes for a relaxing stroll.
The leaves of 3000 maples and other trees color the vast precincts of Hiyoshi Taisha beyond its torii gate. The magnificent main building exists in harmony with the great nature surrounding it, and the shrine is well known as a place to enjoy truly resplendent fall colors. During the fall season, festivities include a tea ceremony, traditional plays and evening illumination of the trees.