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Kyoto: Beyond Peak

Arashiyama's Togetsukyo Bridge

The autumn color season is coming to a close across Japan, but not before one last hurrah as southern Japan and major urban centers like Kyoto and Tokyo are still displaying their last show of colors for the year.

After visiting Fukuoka yesterday (and finding the colors still quite nice in some places), today I headed to Kyoto where the city is seeing the last of its fall color for the season.

Despite being late in the season, though, many spots around the city still had surprisingly vibrant colors—including most of those I visited today.


Beyond Peak

My first stop today was to Arashiyama, located just northwest of the city center. The Arashiyama area, famous for its relatively quieter temples and impressive bamboo grove, is one of Kyoto's prime autumn color spots.

Today I found the colors were mostly past their prime. I started out by walking around the iconic Togetsukyo Bridge in the center of town. The trees on the surrounding hills had lost much of their foliage by today, but were nonetheless really beautiful.

Most of the color on the hills around Arashiyama were fading away today
Despite being late in the season, Arashiyama had no shortage of tourists today
Late autumn scenes around Arashiyama
Late autumn beauty

Nearby the Togetsukyo Bridge lies Tenryuji, Arashiyama's largest and most important temple.

While most of the trees were past their best color at this point, the glaring exception were many of the momiji (Japanese maple) trees scattered around the grounds. Momiji tend to change color later than most trees, and today many blazingly colorful examples were abundant.

In particular, the Hogonin sub-temple gardens, which are packed with momiji, were brilliant shades of red and yellow today.

I expect the colors to remain nice for a few more days at Tenryuji before fading next week.

The "Momiji Tunnel" at Tenryuji's sub-temple Hogonin was at peak color today
Fresh autumn colors even in December
The pond behind Tenryuji's main hall
Almost finished but still beautiful
Enjoying a stroll through Tenryuji's gardens

Kitano Tenmangu

Peak Color

My next stop today was back in Kyoto proper to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in the northwest section of the city.

While the shrine is well-known for its impressive collections of plum trees, the grounds also host a huge array of late-changing Japanese maple as well. Most of these momiji trees line a stream that carves a valley into the grounds, which is paralleled by a pleasant walking path that affords wonderful views of the leaves.

The trees were stunning at their peak color today. Pending unforeseen inclement weather, I expect that they should stay quite nice through early-mid next week.

The main hall of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
Gorgeous peak-color momiji all around Kitano Tenmangu
Leaf walker
Why feel blue when there's so much red?
Heading down to the lower gardens
Colors all around
Never gets old


Beyond Peak

From Kitano Tenmangu, I caught a couple buses east to Enkoji Temple, perched atop a hill near the Higashiyama mountains.

Like Kitano Tenmangu, the main color source of Enkoji's serene inner gardens are its abundant, late-changing momiji trees, which today were looking gorgeous, though a bit beyond their peak. Despite being late in the season, though, the crowds today were rather intense.

The colors here will likely remain nice for another few days.

Thee rock garden courtyard of Enkoji
Incredible colors in the garden
A good day to bring a friend
Leaves were dropping quickly at Enkoji today; visit sooner than later before they're all gone!
Bamboo walker


Peak Color

My final stop for the day was to Shinnyodo Temple, a 30-minute bus ride south from Enkoji. Loaded with momiji trees, Shinnyodo is one of Kyoto's most reliable spots to catch autumn colors late in the season. As a bonus, the grounds are also free to enter and explore.

The trees around temple today were at the peak color. As it seems the momiji here have only recently hit their peak, I expect they will remain attractive for another several days.

The colorful approach to Shinnyodo Temple
Momiji surround most of the temple and were looking amazing today
Colors on colors
So much to appreciate
Such colors, very autumn
The red is hard to beat
And some were all yellow