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Kamakura: Peak Colors

Autumn colors surrounding the Great Buddha of Kamakura

As temperatures continue to drop around Japan, the 2017 autumn color season is now winding down to its finish. But for those hoping to catch some last-minute colors, the country's last late-changing fall color spots—in particular around Tokyo and Kyoto—are still an option for these last remaining days of the season.

Among Japan's best last-to-change koyo (autumn color) spots is Kamakura, my destination for today. The city's impressive collection of Buddhist temples and Shito shrines features several nice places to enjoy autumn colors, which usually reach their best viewing in very early December.

Happily, the colors around many of the temples were mostly right on time and looking lovely. The leaves won't be around long, however, as some spots were already moving beyond their peak.

Great Buddha

Peak Color

My first stop today was to Kamakura's famed Daibutsu, or Great Buddha, statue at Kotokuin Temple. Sitting at 11.4 meters tall, the Daibutsu is Japan's second tallest bronze Buddha statue, second only to Todaiji Temple's in Nara.

While the grounds around Kotokuin don't feature a large amount of autumn foliage, the few seasonal trees around the Buddha add a nice splash of color to this impressive location. Today, the colors were a little bit past their best viewing period, but were still nice in a few spots.

This will definitely be the last week in Kamakura to catch the colors while they're still around, so come sooner than later if you're considering a koyo trip here.

Nice colors around the Kotokuin Temple grounds, if a bit past peak
Ruminating on the coming winter, perhaps
Ginko leaves falling rapidly
Late autumn offerings

Hasedera Temple

Peak Color

My next stop for the day was to Hasedera Temple, just a 5-minute walk away from the Daibutsu. This temple complex, built upon a small hill, features several momiji (Japanese maple) trees around its pleasant garden walkways that give it some pretty color during the season.

Today, the colors here (as at the Daibutsu), were quite nice, though perhaps a little beyond the height of their peak. I expect they will remain nice through the end of the week here.

The temple is also currently having a nighttime illumination event to spotlight the foliage after dark. The event lasts until December 10, from sunset to 18:30 each night.

Nice colors around the lower garden pond of Hasedera
Little streaks of orange in the water
A gorgeous canopy of momiji
Serene scenes all around the grounds
The main temple building at the top of the hill
The view from the top of the hill

Zuisenji Temple

Peak Color

After exploring the Hase neighborhood, I made my way east up into the mountains to the secluded Zuisenji Temple. Zuisenji is considered one of the most important temples in the Zen sect of Buddhism, and visitors have admired its founder's gardens for centuries, including the grounds' generous autumn foliage.

The colors around the grounds today were very much at their peak, thanks again to the large number of late-changing momiji (Japanese maple) trees here, and I estimate they'll be nice through the coming weekend.

The colorful approach to Zuisenji
Colorful momiji and winter-ready sakura trees
A gorgeous momiji tree at the back of the temple
Flaming red momiji

Engakuji Temple

Peak Color

My last stop today was Engakuji Temple, located on the north side of Kamakura just a few steps away from Kita-Kamakura Station. This large temple complex is another of the city's best koyo spots, with dozens of momiji and ginko trees scattered throughout the grounds.

Today's colors at Engakuji were happily worth the short trip here. The colors seemed to be at their best today, and again, barring inclement weather or an extreme temperature drop, should be good through this week.

The approach to Engakuji
Lots of color and bustle around the temple's entrance
Going up
Lots of great color all around the temple grounds
Tucked away beauty
Peak colors
Intense reds
A good place to pray for a clear mind and heart