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Kyoto: Peak Colors

View from Kiyomizudera over the city at sunrise

Two days after my previous report from Kyoto, I checked out some more of the city's autumn color spots. Sunny weather and large temperature differences between day and night have been providing ideal conditions for the colors to further progress over the past couple of days, and the best viewing period is starting at more and more of Kyoto's temples and gardens.

The rest of November will be the ideal timing to enjoy Kyoto's autumn colors this year. Furthermore, some of the later changing spots are likely to provide colors into early December.

Kiyomizudera Temple

Approaching Peak

Kiyomizudera Temple opens daily at 6am which is about half an hour before sunrise during this time of the year. I visited the temple just as the sun started to make her appearance when the temple approach and grounds were still pleasantly calm. The trees at Kiyomizudera were not at their peak yet, but close to it. They should remain beautiful at least through the rest of the month.

The Higashiyama district before sunrise
Not many people were on the streets yet
None of the shops were open yet
Approach to Kiyomizudera Temple
Kiyomizudera's main hall is covered up for renovations until next spring
View from the main hall
The city center in the distance
The colors were approaching their peak
View of Kiyomizudera's main hall
Many of the trees still had potential for further improvement
By 7am the delivery trucks made their appearance

Sanzenin Temple

Peak Color

Sanzenin Temple is located in the rural town of Ohara in the mountainous area north of central Kyoto. Because of slightly cooler temperatures, the autumn colors in the area are usually a few days ahead of those in the city center. And, indeed, the maple trees that cover the grounds of Sanzenin were at their peak today. They should remain there for a few more days.

It is a pleasant ten minute walk from the Ohara bus stop to Sanzenin Temple
Colorful approach to the temple
Shuhekien Garden viewed from the Kyakuden Hall
View from the Shinden Hall
Colors in front of the Ojo Gokuraku-in Hall
The carpet of fallen leaves is growing thicker
Autumn colors at their peak
It wasn't me

Botanical Garden

Approaching Peak

We occasionally include Kyoto Botanical Garden in our cherry blossom reports; however, today was my first time to visit it in autumn. The spacious garden offers a variety of areas, including European-style flower gardens, a large lawn, cherry and plum tree groves and a conifer forest. Many maple trees line the pond and stream that diagonally crosses the garden, providing nice fall colors in a calm and pleasant surrounding. Today, the colors were still approaching their peak.

Kyoto Botanical Garden is a pleasant oasis in northern Kyoto
A colorful ginkgo tree at the edge of the conifer forest
Kimono-clad lady
Many of the maple trees weren't at their peak yet
Autumn-flowering cherry blossoms
Barren weeping cherry tree and a colorful bald cypress on the right
Bald cypress


Approaching Peak

Already yesterday evening, I also visited Kodaiji Temple which is illuminated every night until 22:00 through December 15 (entry until 21:30). The maple trees at Kodaiji are known to change colors relatively late, and they were indeed still at an early stage. The peak at Kodaiji is not going to start for several more days, but will then last into December.

At the entrance to Kodaiji Temple
Many of the maple trees were still green
Contemporary art in Kodaiji's dry garden
Autumnal reflections
Kodaiji's Kaisando Hall
Bamboo grove