I began my day in the leafy district of Arashiyama, once a playground for wealthy aristocrats and today a popular draw for tourists with its temples, wooded hills and of course the famous Sagano bamboo grove.
Taking in the view from the Togetsukyo Bridge, colors in the surrounding hills appeared quite far along but were missing some of their usual vibrance, with just a hint of red and yellow to lighten an otherwise quite muted display of greens and purple-ish brown.
Things were much more encouraging over in Tenryuji, a 12th century Zen temple known for its extensive garden featuring many maple trees. By the pond and along the winding garden pathways were some very lively red and orange branches, but even these seemed a little sparser than in previous years.
Despite many leaves still appearing quite fresh and green, I suspect the best overall experience will be found here within the next week, after which some of the trees may begin to look a bit threadbare.
Next on my list was Kitano Tenmangu, a Shinto shrine located in the northwest of the city and dedicated to the deity of learning. Here, the highlight of my visit was to the maple garden, containing 350 of the trees. These I found to be in a similar condition to the ones at Tenryu-ji, albeit in a slightly more vibrant and lush condition overall.
While making my way around the garden was hugely enjoyable, the amount of green leaves still on display makes me think the best is still just around the corner - perhaps just another day or two.
By far the highlight of todayfs trip was to Eikando, a temple of the Jodo Buddhist sect located in the northeast of the city. With thick maple foliage framing the main buildings, lining the elegant little pond and forming canopies over its strolling paths, the templefs precincts naturally come into their own each year in the autumn season.
The colors here (and at nearby Nanzenji) appeared at least a couple of days ahead of todayfs previous spots, with more intense reds and not nearly as much green foliage remaining.