The autumn colors in major cities like Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo are typically at their peak in the last weekend of November. I was in Tokyo yesterday and reported that the colors were at their best viewing albeit requiring a bit more time before they reach their peak.

Nine days ago, Joe was in Kyoto and reported that the colors in the city were at their peak. I visited the old capital again today, and found that the autumn color season was still at its peak even though the leaves have started falling. Cooler temperatures are forecast for the coming weekend and next week, and that should prolong the best viewing period for a few more days before the trees shed all their leaves in preparation for winter.

With the recent increase of coronavirus cases in Japan, especially in places like Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Sapporo. Many prefectures have issued travel advisories against visiting the prefectures with high number of cases, and conversely, residents of those prefectures have been requested to refrain from going out. In light of these travel advisories and the rising number of cases, this will be our final autumn color report for 2020. Thanks for joining us on our brief coverage of the 2020 autumn color season. We hope you have enjoyed the reports as much as we did bringing them to you. Hopefully things would calm down enough for us to carry out a close-to-regular cherry blossom reporting season in 2021!

Enkoji Temple

Peak Color

I started my day bright and early at Enkoji Temple in northern Kyoto. The temple is a popular autumn color spot in the old capital, and can get very crowded at the peak of the season. I found the colors here to be at their best viewing, and even though some of the leaves had started to fall, there were still plenty of leaves on the trees. There are lots of photogenic spots all throughout the temple grounds, but the most popular autumn view at Enkoji Temple is of the garden from the main hall.

Until December 10, 2020, admission to Enkoji Temple is strictly by advance reservation only and costs 1000 yen per person. Reservations are easily made online on their website and can be done the day before or if space is available, on the day of your visit.

Tofukuji Temple

Peak Color

Next was Tofukuji Temple, another popular autumn color spot in Kyoto. The colors were just starting to change when I was here 16 days ago, and today I found the colors to be at their best, but the fiery red canopy that the temple is known for in autumn was gone. Despite that, I thought that my visit was still worth it as there were still lots of colors remaining to be seen below the bald canopy.

Kyoto Botanical Garden

Peak Color

My final stop for the day was the spacious Kyoto Botanical Garden, where there is a sizeable grove of maple trees and other trees that change color in the autumn. Not only is the beautiful garden a popular spot to see autumn colors, it also has a small forest of cherry trees and plum trees, which makes it a nice place to visit in the spring to see the seasonal flora. I found the autumn colors here to be at their best, and expect them to remain good through early December. While I enjoyed strolling around the maple tree grove, I saw many others having a picnic lunch or simply sitting in the sun and enjoying their autumn day out.

Until this coming Sunday, November 29, 2020, the maple tree grove in the botanical garden is illuminated from sunset till 20:00 (admission until 19:30).