Autumn Leaf Spots

Autumn Color Report 2015

Below is a list of some of Kyoto's most popular koyo spots with the approximate timings of the best viewing in the average year. Generally speaking, they are usually best in the second half of November.

Early Season

Mid November
Illumination 2015 (Jingoji): 11/7 to 11/23, 17:00 to 19:00, 800 yen
The spectacular autumn colors around the temples in this forested valley north of Kyoto are usually at their best a few days before the autumn colors in the city center. Jingoji Temple is particularly nice and offers evening illuminations.

Mid November
The autumn colors in the beautiful gardens of Sanzenin, a popular temple in rural Ohara, a 30 minute bus ride north of Kyoto are usually at their best a few days before the trees in central Kyoto.

Main Season

Mid to late November
Usually best in the second half of November, Tofukuji Temple displays some of Kyoto's most spectacular autumn foliage. The views of and from the Tsutenkyo Bridge are particularly impressive, and the temple gets very crowded.

Late November to early December
Arashiyama is a district at the outskirts of Kyoto. The forested mountains in the background and the trees on the grounds of Arashiyama's temples usually turn colors in the second half of November. Tenryuji, Jojakkoji, Nisonin and Gioji are some of the best temples for autumn colors.

Late November to early December
Illumination 2015: 11/14 to 12/6, 18:00 to 21:00, 400 yen
The highly popular Kiyomizudera is also a spectacular autumn color spot. The trees around the temples large wooded stages usually turn red in the second half of November.

Late November to early December
Illumination 2015: 11/6 to 12/3, 17:30 to 20:30, 600 yen
With their abundance of autumn colors, the temple grounds of Eikando are another of Kyoto's most popular koyo spots. It is one of several temples that offer special illumination opening hours in the evenings.

Mid to late November
Similar to Kiyomizudera on Kyoto's eastern mountains (Higashiyama), Yoshiminedera is a temple on the slopes of Kyoto's western mountains (Nishiyama) with nice views over the city and beautiful autumn colors.

Late November to early December
Illumination 2015: 10/23 to 12/13, sunset to 21:30, 600 yen
Kodaiji Temple, not far from Kiyomizudera, is also known for its evening illuminations. The sight of the lit up maple leaves, reflecting on the surface of the temple's pond, are particuarly breathtaking.

Shugakuin Imperial Villa
Mid to late November
The spacious and elegant gardens of the Shugakuin Imperial Villa feature beautiful autumn colors during the second half of November. It can only be visited on tours, and advance reservations are mandatory.

Mid to late November
This lesser known temple in a calm residential neighborhood not too far from Ginkakuji and the Philosopher Trail is a favorite autumn color spot among the locals. Shinnyodo's temple grounds feature a 3-story pagoda and dozens of maple trees that turn spectacular in late November.

Mid to late November
A small temple within walking distance of Shugakuin Imperial Villa (see above), Enkoji offers beautiful autumn colors. Be sure not to miss the spectacular bird's view of the temple from the hill behind.

Late November to early December
Illumination 2015 (Tenjuan): 11/15 to 11/30, 17:30 to 21:00, 500 yen
Besides the temple's main grounds, the subtemples Nazenin and Tenjuan are particularly popular autumn color spots with the latter featuring nice illuminations in the evenings.

Kitano Tenmangu
Late November to early December
Illumination 2015: 11/14 to 12/6, sunset to 20:00, 700 yen
Kitano Tenmangu opens its maple tree garden to the public every fall. Illuminations are held during the peak of the autumn leaf season. The admission fee includes a cup of green tea and a snack.

Late November to early December
Illumination 2015: 11/6 to 12/5, 17:30 to 21:00, 800 yen
The massive head temple of the Buddhist Jodo sect attracts autumn leaf viewers by illuminating its freely accessible temple grounds and its gardens, for which an admission fee applies.

Late November to early December
Illumination 2015: 10/30 to 12/6, 18:00 to 21:30, 800 yen
This temple in the Higashiyama District is known for its evening illuminations, which include a dry garden decorated with hundreds of blue LED lights.
Last updated: September 14, 2015
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