by Francois, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2010/11/24 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
For the second day in a row reporting from Kyoto, today I visited the Arashiyama district, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and Myoshinji Temple. It seems once again that many spots within the city are at or very near their peak of this year's autumn colors.
The first destination of the day was Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. There are a few nice trees around the main shrine grounds, but the best spot for koyo is the paid Odio area that only has special opening during the fall and plum blossom seasons. There are many nice trees and viewpoints across a valley just beside the shrine, and although the trees haven't all reached their peak it is still a great time to visit. The full koyo peak should come this weekend. There is also a light up tomorrow night and the evenings of the next two Saturday and Sundays.
My next stop was Myoshinji Temple, which is a large Zen temple complex a bit west of Kitano Tenmangu. The area was not spectacular for koyo, consisting mostly of a large building complex of temples and subtemples. However, in some of the subtemples the fall colors made the gardens more attractive. The Daihoji subtemple is only open temporarily for the month of November and I was told it is Myoshinji's most attractive spot for koyo. The garden was quite nice but pictures from previous years showed a fuller color than there was today.
For my final stop of the day I went to the Arashiyama district. The area was very attractive and there was a lot of color on the mountainside. The place was packed with sightseers and cars and it was hard to get through the crowds, particularly in the area near the Togetsukyo Bridge.
Tenryuji Temple is a Zen temple located close to the Togetsukyo bridge. The walking path to Tenryuji Temple also had a lot of koyo and people. Within the temple the Sogenchi Pond garden in particular benefited from the added color of the season.
I also went to the northern area of the Arashiyama and Sagano district to see the current state of the leaves at Daikakuji Temple. Here as well the colors are around their peak, and there are a few trees that add to the view of the large pond beside the temple. There are also some trees beside the walkways that connect the buildings of the temple complex.
Unable to visit last year because of a visit by the Emperor, today I was able to pass the front gates of Nissonin and see what was inside. I was happy to find some of the best koyo of the day, particularly around a gate just near the main temple building. For me, the small temples of Arashiyama can offer some of the best koyo opportunities in the area.
Last year the best koyo I found in Arashiyama was in Jojakkoji Temple, another of the area's small temples. Naturally I made a point of including it in today's itinerary. I was not disappointed as the colors were again fantastic, though I am between Nissonin or Jojakkoki which I enjoyed more. The colors at Jojakkoji are also at their peak and will likely continue to be very beautiful into the weekend.