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Autumn Color Report 2014
Official autumn color reports by japan-guide.com

Where to see autumn leaves? - When do trees turn colors? - What trees turn colors?
Schedule of upcoming reports - Post your own report

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2014/11/11 - Kyoto Report
by scott

Kodaiji Temple

Today I headed out to Kyoto to follow up on Schauwecker's visit last Friday and check out a few of the more popular autumn color spots around the city. The fall colors arrived this year in some areas of Japan as much as two weeks early; however, the pace has been averaging out as the season progresses and it appears that the leaves around central Kyoto are closer to changing one week earlier than normal.

My first stop this morning was Kiyomizudera, which is one of Kyoto's most popular sites and a favorite during both the cherry blossom and fall seasons due to the large number of cherry and maple trees planted below the temple's main stage. While the season is starting off pretty early at Kiyomizudera, the colors really haven't progressed all that much yet and probably won't be peaking for another week or more. Kiyomizudera has an illumination event from November 14th to December 7th. During that time the temple will be lit up from 18:30 to 22:00 (last entry at 21:30).

On a side note, the reconstruction work that has been going on around the temple has increased considerably since I last visited about half a year ago. It's reached a point where almost half of the buildings are covered up and a good portion of the grounds and walkways are affected. On the plus side, the main temple hall and stage remain uncovered, but you'll have to mentally block out the construction to fully enjoy the scene.

Kiyomizudera's main hall and stage
The maples were still in the early stages
The earliest maple trees were starting to look like this
Enjoying the view from the main stage
The walk down to the temple's popular fountains
The main hall from the side
Inside the main hall
Looking out over the slope toward a pagoda
Yellowish leaves behind the statues
Another building gets covered up

Next I headed over to Kodaiji Temple, about a 15-10 minute walk away through the pleasant Higashiyama District along Kyoto's eastern mountains. Kodaiji is another crowd favorite due to the spectacular colors that surround the temple's main pond. Today the maples around the temple were still in the early stages, but overall the pond area looked to be more advanced than it really is due to a few of the trees there that are red year round. Kodaiji Temple also holds a long illumination event on evenings until December 14th. The light up starts at sunset, which is currently at 17:00, and lasts until 21:30. Special artwork will also be on display during this time.

Kodaiji Temple
The trees were only just beginning to change
Around the temple's main pond
Modern art installation in Kodaiji's large rock garden

After visiting Kodaiji I headed over to Nanzenji, a large temple complex further north. The best colors around Nanzenji are found at Tenjuan, a small subtemple with two beautiful gardens. Normally during the autumn season there is a long wait to get into the grounds, but for some reason the temple was closed today without explanation. So instead I headed up to the balcony of Sanmon Gate to get a bird's eye view into Tenjuan and saw some pretty good looking colors. Perhaps it is only temporary as Tenjuan's illumination event is set to start on Friday (November 15) and run through the end of the month. During that time Tenjuan's gardens will be lit up from 17:30 to 21:00. The rest of the trees around Nanzenji were still in the early stages and don't look like they'll peak for another week or so.

Tenjuan from Sanmon Gate
Some of Tenjuan's red maples peak over the wall
Nanzenji from Sanmon Gate
Down in the trees
Around the aqueduct
A giant stone lantern on the steps below Sanmon Gate

Eikando had some of the best colors on Friday's report and didn't disappoint today either. The trees around Hojo Pond were pretty much around their peak, while the rest of the trees around the temple are catching up fast. The special illuminations at Eikando will continue until December 4, and the grounds will be lit up from 17:30 to 21:00 (entry until 20:30).

Hojo Pond
Hojo Pond from the opposite direction
The other trees around the temple were improving fast
A Kannon statue in Eikando
Rest area around the pond

My final stop today was to Ginkakuji at the far north end of the Philosophers Path. This was the first time for us to visit the Silver Pavilion in autumn, as we heard that the temple might be a good autumn color spot. Indeed, there were quite a few maple trees around the garden and even more up on the slope to the back of the temple grounds. While the colors were only just getting going, it looks like there is some potential here that we'll have to keep an eye on.

Gravel artwork in front of Ginkakuji
Ginkakuji
Moss covered slopes behind the temple

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List of Posts:
2014/12/05 - Tokyo Report
2014/12/04 - Kanazawa Report
2014/12/03 - Kyoto Report
2014/12/02 - Kamakura Report
2014/11/28 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/27 - Tokyo Report
2014/11/26 - Nara Report
2014/11/25 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/21 - Osaka Report
2014/11/20 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/19 - Korankei Report
2014/11/18 - Miyajima Report
2014/11/18 - Tokyo Report
2014/11/17 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/14 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/14 - Himeji Report
2014/11/13 - Fuji Report
2014/11/13 - Tokyo Report
2014/11/12 - Eiheiji Report
2014/11/11 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/07 - Tokyo Report
2014/11/07 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/06 - Yamadera Report
2014/11/04 - Fuji Report
2014/11/04 - Hakone Report
2014/10/31 - Karuizawa Report
2014/10/29 - Shima Onsen Report
2014/10/24 - Fuji Report
2014/10/21 - Bandai Report
2014/10/21 - Nikko Report
2014/10/20 - Towada Report
2014/10/16 - Tateyama Report
2014/10/15 - Kurikoma Report
2014/10/08 - Nasu Report
2014/10/07 - Nikko Report
2014/10/01 - Oze Report
2014/09/29 - Tateyama Report
2014/09/26 - Nikko Report
2014/09/19 - Tokachidake Report
2014/09/18 - Kurodake Report
2014/09/17 - Asahidake Report

Tours and Experiences