Francois' Japan Blog
by Francois, staff writer of

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2009/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Light Up

After a couple of days in Nara Prefecture doing research unrelated to autumn colors ("koyo"), this evening I returned to Kyoto to continue the search for fall foliage. I did not get back until about sunset, so I checked out a few more of the city's "light ups", which are evening illuminations of popular sightseeing spots.

The first destination was Kodaiji Temple, which I visited a week ago for the November 18, 2009 Koyo Report. Since I was there last, the autumn colours have reached their peak and remain very attractive. Of the sites I visited today, Kodaiji had the densest crowds and the best colours. The temple's rock garden also had a light up with illumination that changed and moved, making an interesting light show for visitors.

The light up starts from sunset and runs until 22:00 (entry until 21:30), and continues until December 6. It costs the regular entry fee of 600 yen to enter.

Illuminated koyo beside the pond at Kodaiji
Colourful leaves surround the Goryoro (reclining dragon corridor), which crosses over the pond

The next spot was Chionin Temple, located 10 minutes north by foot. The temple is usually free to enter, but there is a 800 yen entry fee during the light up. However, this includes access to the two garden areas of Hojo and Yuzen-en, which have a regular combined entry fee of 500 yen.

There was not much in terms of autumn colours, only a few trees in the gardens. However, the illuminated temple buildings were very impressive, and the temple staff has done a very good job of illuminating the buildings and paths to provide very dramatic views. The light up only runs a few more days, finishing next Sunday on November 29. It begins at 17:30 and finishes slightly earlier than Kodaiji at 21:30 (entry until 21:00).

Chionin's massive Sanmon Gate
Lanterns lead the way to the Miedo Hall
The Buddhist statues inside the Amida Hall are also illuminated
One of Yuzen-en's rock gardens, with a bit of koyo

Just beside Chionin is the Shorenin Temple, my last light up destination of the evening. The entry fee for the temple doubles during the light up, with visitors required to pay 1000 yen to enter. Opening hours are 18:00 to 22:00 (entry until 21:30) and the light ups run until December 14.

Like at Chionin, there were only a few example of autumn colours at Shorenin, with the more stunning features of the light up not being related to koyo. One of the most dramatic features of Shorenin are its giant camphor trees, which visitors can see just outside the temple's entrance. There was also a light show at the temple's rock garden, like at Kodaiji, as well as an illuminated bamboo grove.

An massive camphor tree at the temple entrance
A light show at the temple's rock garden
An illuminated garden, and an illuminated bamboo grove in the background

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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