by Francois, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2009/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
The first stop of the day was Tofukuji, which is located just one station east of Kyoto Station. The temple has a few bridges, and its Tsutenkyo bridge is one of the city's most popular spots for autumn colours. The bridge crosses over a small valley whose trees are now at their peak. There are trails around the valley as well, and two other bridges that have good views of Tsutenkyo. The leaves and scenery today were really spectacular, and, because it was a Saturday, so were the crowds. At some points in the temple it became very congested with sightseers, and the Tsutenkyo bridge itself was packed like a crowded subway car.
The next stop was Daitokuji's Kotoin Temple. Daitokuji is a large temple complex of which Kotoin is a subtemple. A path leading to one of the temple's gates is lined with maple trees and becomes quite popular. The trees along the path are still mostly green, but within Kotoin itself there is a fair amount of colouring trees.
Today's last stop was Kinkakuji, also known as the Golden Pavilion. There are more coloured leaves lining the approach to the temple than there are inside the paid area. There are a fair number of trees changing color inside though, including beside the temple's pond. Of those trees though, a few are bare and the rest have all changed colours, so the colour will be decreasing from now.
The attractions today were very busy with crowds, especially in the more famous koyo spots. The crowds will continue to be dense tomorrow, and likely on Monday as well, which is a national holiday. On the bright side, it is a great time to see autumn colors at many attractions.
Because of the popularity of fall colour viewing, many attractive spots in Kyoto have an evening "light up", where the area is illuminated so that the colours can be seen at night as well as in the day. This evening I revisited a couple of sights that I had visited in the day for the November 18, 2009 Koyo Report.
The first spot was the Eikando Temple. The area was very attractive, and has become more colorful since I last visited. The light up runs from 17:30 to 21:30 and costs 600 yen. There is live traditional Japanese music three times a night.
The second spot I visited was Tenjuan Garden, which is the only spot in the Nanzenji Temple area that has a light up. In the day time, visitors have to walk around the main building through the paths outside, but at night the paths are closed and the illuminated gardens are viewed from inside the building. Both the rock garden and the pond garden were very attractive. Tenjuan costs 500 yen to enter and runs from 17:30 to 21:00.