by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
Today I headed to Kyoto to check out a few of the city's popular autumn color spots. As Scott reported last week, the colors in Kyoto are a little earlier than recent years. The places I visted today had a mix of trees at their peak and some approaching peak. Overall, I would say that the autumn colors at the places I visited today were just under peak and are expected to develop further in the coming days.
I started my day at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, 30 minutes northwest of Kyoto Station. The shrine is dedicated to the scholar and politician Sugawara Michizane, who is also associated with the god of education. As a result, it is a popular spot for students to pray for success in their studies. The maple tree garden will remain open until December 7 with daily autumn illumination from sunset to 20:00. Admission to the maple tree garden costs 600 yen inclusive of a small snack. Most of the trees in the maple garden were mostly green when I was there, with a few trees at a more advanced stage compared to the rest.
From Kitano Tenmangu, I headed to my next stop Shinnyodo Temple in the same general district as Ginkakuji. While most of the grounds are free to enter, there is an entrance fee of 500 yen for the inner chambers and gardens. I saw many tour groups being led into to the temple and some smaller groups having lunch in the garden. Overall most of the maples here were still before peak; maple trees at the back of the main hall still very green and the maples at the front of the temple at their peak.
Moving northeast towards Enkoji Temple, where I was wowed by the garden in the courtyard. I didn't expect what looked like a small temple to have a beautiful garden and feel somewhat spacious. There were many tourists sitting on the viewing platforms enjoying the autumn colors. I climbed the small hill to have a bird's eye view of the surroundings and thought that the view would be even better had the weather been better. It was amazing to see the cluster of densely packed trees in the courtyard of the temple and walk in it later. Entrance to the temple grounds costs 500 yen. The autumn colors here were almost at their peak and should remain beautiful for the next couple of weeks.
My last stop for today was Manshuin Temple. It is about a 15 minute walk from Enkoji, or a 10-15 minute walk from Shugakuin Imperial Villa. The trees in the garden inside the temple had just a touch of color and were in the early stages. However, the maple trees in the small garden just outside the temple and along the road leading to the temple are almost at their peak and look to remain beautiful for at least the rest of this week. Manshuin Temple is open till 21:00 until November 30 with daily illumination from sunset until closing. Entrance to the temple costs 600 yen.