Since our last report from Kyoto, temperatures have fallen into the single digits during most nights, which had a favorable impact on the progress of the seasonal colors. In some of the temples I visited today, peak colors could already be observed, while in others it will take a few more crisp nights before the colors reach their best.
So, like in most years, the last third of November will be the best time to view Kyoto's autumn colors in 2018. In some of the later coloring spots, the seasonal spectacle will likely extend into the first few days of December.
I arrived at Tofukuji at 8:20am, ten minutes before opening time, and encountered a queue of about 60 meters. In the interest of my time schedule, I decided to skip the visit into the temple's paid area. There is a good reason for the crowds, though: Tofukuji has reached the peak of its autumnal beauty, and the sight of the Tsutenkyo Bridge over the sea of colors was spectacular. Peak has only just started, and I expect the temple to remain spectacular (and very crowded) for much of the rest of November.
Kiyomizudera felt almost deserted compared to Tofukuji when I visited the popular temple around 9am (it opens daily at 6am). The many maple trees on the temple grounds have not reach peak colors yet, but the low overnight temperatures in the forecasts are likely to accelerate the season into peak within just a few days.
Kodaiji had the least developed maple trees of all the temples I visited today. I expect the season here to last into early December.
As the headquarters of the popular Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism, Chionin is a temple of superlatives, featuring some of the country's largest temple structures. Its autumn colors are concentrated in two gardens: Yuzen Garden and Hojo Garden. Unfortunately, the Hojo Garden is currently closed through November 25, but the autumn colors in Yuzen Garden just to the right of the Sanmon Entrance Gate were very attractive today.
Note that the huge main hall of Chionin Temple has been undergoing renovation works for the past few years. The works are scheduled to be completed in spring 2019, and, indeed, the main hall is currently being uncovered and has become visible again.
Not far from Chionin, Shorenin does not offer a great amount of autumn colors, but it has a nice garden that is illuminated every evening during the autumn color season. The few colors on the temple grounds were not at their peak yet.
Nanzenji has just about entered its peak period for autumn colors, although there is still some potential for further improvement. The colors surrounding the Sanmon Gate and in the pretty garden of the Tenjuan subtemple were very attractive today. There are nightly illuminations at Tenjuan through November 30.
Eikando was rather crowded today for a reason: the temple is now enjoying the peak of its autumn color season. The colors around the pond were particularly vibrant, and I expect the colors at Eikando to remain attractive for at least one more week.
Shinnyodo is a lesser known temple, not far from Ginkakuji, and one of my favorite autumn color spots in Kyoto. Today, the colors around the temple weren't quite at their peak yet. The temple should remain an attractive koyo destination for much of the remainder of the month.