Francois' Japan Blog
by Francois, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2009/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Higashiyama

Leaves have not fully turned below Kiyomizudera's main balcony

Today I continued my exploration of the fall colours ("koyo") of Kyoto, this time investigating the leaves in some temples in the eastern part of the city. First off was Kiyomizudera, one of the most popular temples in all of Japan.

Unfortunately, the weather was not very good in the morning, and the koyo is not quite at its peak. There is a significant amount of colour, but it will take a few more days before the trees become really impressive.

Colour changing below Kiyomizudera's other balcony
Some of the best color at Kiyomizudera near the temple's exit

Next I headed to Kodaiji Temple, which is just a few minute's walk away. There are not as many trees at this temple as there are at Kiyomizudera, but the ones around the temple's main pond and the Garyoro ("reclining dragon corridor") are nearing their peak and are quite colorful. The maple trees around the temple's two storied tea house are still green, so will become attractive in a few days when they start to change color.

Koyo beside the pond at Kodaiji
Koyo beside the Goryoro, which arches up along the hill

I walked north from Kodaiji and when I got to Maruyama Park I hiked up a mountainside trail to Shogun-zuka, which has a couple of sightseeing platforms that give nice views onto the city below. There was also some of the day's best koyo, with a number of trees covered completely in vibrant red leaves.

Radiant red leaves at Shogun-zuka
Walking trails at Shogun-zuka surrounded by koyo
The view backwards from a sightseeing platform, onto Shogun-zuka's trails instead of the city

Nanzenji Temple is a rather large zen temple complex. The trails between the various temple buildings have a decent amount of koyo, but it should still improve over the next few days. Visitors can get a good view of the surrounding state of the autumn colors by climbing the Sanmon gate (500 yen).

A canopy of colour at Nanzenji
The view from the Sanmon gate in the direction of the main Nanzenji building

Nanzenji has a number of rock gardens, and they can become quite affected by the autumn colours. Though I visited the Nanzen-in garden and the gardens of the main Nanzen-ji building, the best gardens today were found at the Tenjuan (400 yen) just south of the Sanmon gate. There was a nice rock garden and another garden around a pond, and both had excellent koyo.

The view of the Tenjuan from the Sanmon gate
Inside Tenjuan, beside its rock garden

My last stop of the day was at Eikando, a temple complex that is a very popular spot for koyo. There were large crowds of eager sightseers looking for autumn colors. The colors did not disappoint, but they were not yet thrilling either. A lot of maple trees still had fully green trees, so I think that after a few days more it will become very impressive. There was also a bit of construction going on, which wasn't enough to be really bothersome but still took a bit from the atmosphere.

The view onto the Eikando complex from beside the temple's pagoda, with the city behind
Though colorful, still some green around the temple's pond
Koyo along the temple's paths, and its pagoda along the mountainside

Some of the best koyo at the complex was located just outside the entrance, hanging over the temple's walls. When the trees throughout the temple become as vibrant, I suspect the crowds will become even bigger.

Brilliant koyo hanging over the walls near the temple's entrance

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List of Posts:
2011/09/01 - Final Post
2011/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sapporo
2011/05/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2011/04/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Aizu
2011/04/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2011/04/16 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2011/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2011/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2011/04/13 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2011/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2011/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2011/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2011/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2011/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2011/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kagoshima
2011/03/31 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2011/03/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2011/02/11 - Shiretoko Fantasia 2011
2011/02/11 - Asahikawa Winter Festival - by night
2011/02/10 - Asahikawa Winter Festival - by day
2011/02/09 - Sapporo Snow Festival 2011 - by night
2011/02/08 - Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi 2011
2011/02/07 - Sapporo Snow Festival 2011 - by day

2010/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2010
2010/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2010/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/24 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/23 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2010/11/05 - Autumn Color Report: Yamadera
2010/10/27 - Autumn Color Report: Kuju
2010/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kirishima
2010/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2010/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2010/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2010/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2010/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2010/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2010/03/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2010/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2010/03/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagasaki
2010/03/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2010/03/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2010/01/23 - Wakakusa Yamayaki

2009/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2009
2009/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2009/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Light Up
2009/11/23 - Autumn Color Report: Nara
2009/11/22 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Ohara
2009/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2009/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Higashiyama
2009/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Kurama
2009/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Hakone
2009/10/07 - Autumn Color Report: Hachimantai
2009/10/06 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Akita-Komagatake
2009/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kamikochi
2009/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2009/06/18 - Biking the Shimanami Kaido
2009/06/01 - Gunkanjima
2009/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2009/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Himeji
2009/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kobe
2009/04/13 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2009/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2009/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nara
2009/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kobe
2009/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/03/31 - Cherry Blossom Report: Himeji
2009/03/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/03/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2009/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2009/01/19 - Bears in Hokkaido

2008/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kamakura
2008/10/06 - Autumn Color Report: Lake Akan
2008/08/18 - Miyajima Trip
2008/06/09 - Post Towns
2008/05/08 - Baseball Game
2008/04/14 - ASIMO and Aoyama Cemetery
2008/04/08 - Ninja Restaurant