Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

Part of Tenryuji Temple and the garden in front

After about two months of reporting almost all over the country, we are reaching the tail end of the autumn season. The leaves and temperatures are starting to fall and the winds getting chillier with each passing day. For those who are in the Kanto Region now, Scott was in Kamakura yesterday and reported that it would be a while more before the autumn colors there reach their peak. Today, I headed back to Kyoto for our last Koyo report in the Kansai Region. This time, I visited Arashiyama and three other temples in the Northern Kyoto, close to Kinkakuji. The autumn colors at all the places I visited today were towards the end of the season with most of the leaves on the ground and only a handful of trees still holding on strong.

Arashiyama was my first stop of the day. The autumn colors near Togetsukyo Bridge were at their peak when Joe was there about a week ago. The fiery red trees on the hill behind the bridge have lost their leaves, making the hill look a little naked. Over at Tenryuji Temple, the colors were also past their peak with a few trees with red leaves on them, and needless to say, those trees drew the most crowds. Entry to the garden at Tenryuji Temple costs 500 yen, and entry to both garden and the interior of the temple costs 600 yen.

Elderly men fishing, the hills that were looking very vibrant last week are now a little bare
Togetsukyo Bridge and the hills behind them
The stone garden and pond at Tenryuji Temple
A pathway in the garden at Tenryuji Temple
A little bit of red left, but I cannot wait for spring to see the flowers on the other trees
Peeping across the interior of Tenryuji Temple
The number of leaves on the trees are getting fewer each day

From Arashiyama, I took a taxi to Koetsuji Temple to save time as the trip by bus would take about an hour and a half. I visited two other temples nearby, Genkoan and Joshoji temples, and the three temples are all within walking distance from one another. It would make more sense to visit these three temples, together with Kinkakuji as they are 30 minutes away on foot, instead of trekking across from Arashiyama like I did. Alternatively, take the Kyoto City Bus 6 from Shijo-Omiya Station and get off at Takagamine Genkoanmae (about 30 minutes, 230 yen one way), all three temples are within a three-minute walk from the bus stop.

Koetsuji Temple is a three-minute walk from the bus stop. The land that Koetsuji Temple is built on was originally gifted to the artist Honami Koetsu by Tokugawa Iseyasu. The artist made his residence on the land and after his death, the residence was converted into a temple of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. There is a small shrine and about seven rest houses that make up Koetsuji Temple. Maple trees line the pathway into the temple, but today, there were no more leaves, just empty branches lining the path. Inside, the pathway leads to all the rest houses and visitors can sit on benches and appreciate the greenery that surrounds all the houses. Entry into Koetsuji Temple costs 300 yen.

A couple looking at the scenery at Koetsuji Temple
Low hanging leaves
Fallen leaves on green moss
View of the surroundings from a rest house at Koetsuji Temple
Path leading to the grave of Koetsu
Her coat was the only vibrant red thing asides from the leaves on the ground

From Koetsuji, I walked towards Genkoan Temple which is about two minutes from the Takagamine Genkoanmine bus stop. Genkoan is a zen temple that is famous for its two windows, one round and one square, in the main hall that look out to the garden. The round window, Satori no Mado, represents calmness and peace of mind, while the square window, Mayoi no Mado, represents the trials and tribulations of life. Perhaps zen monks sat here back in the to meditate and reflect upon the chasm of life and being. There is an entrance fee of 400 yen (500 yen in November) to tour the temple and see the windows. Unfortunately, the view today was not as good as it could be as the autumn leaves have dropped and the view was a little green.

At the entrance of Genkoan Temple
Looking at one of the few remaining colored trees at Genkoan Temple
The round window, Satori no Mado
The square window, Mayoi no Mado
Pampas grass, leaves and the roof of the entrance to Genkoan

Finally, I headed to Joshoji Temple is about a one minute walk from the Takagamine Genkoanmae bus stop. The temple is famous for its vermillion red gate which was donated by a famous courtesan. There is a building on the temple grounds where the courtesan performed tea ceremony. In addition to the maple trees on the temple grounds, there is a special memorial service held in memory of the courtesan on the second Sunday of April every year at Joshoji Temple. Like the rest of the other temples I visited today, most of the leaves at Joshoji Temple have fallen. However, it is still a pleasant place to visit and explore if you are in the area. Entry to Joshoin Temple costs 300 yen and there is an additional charge of 500 yen for tea and sweets in the garden.

The entrance of Joshoji covered in leaves
Looking at the main shrine area
Some maple leaves still holding on strong
All the leaves have fallen off here
Enjoying a cup of green tea and chatting at Joshoji Temple

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List of Posts:
2019/12/03 - Shopping at Shibuya Fukuras and Parco
2019/10/23 - 46th Tokyo Motor Show
2019/03/20 - Moominvalley Park opens near Tokyo
2018/12/31 - 2018 Travel Highlights
2018/10/25 - Business as usual at Tsukiji Outer Market
2018/08/19 - Hello Kitty Shinkansen
2018/05/16 - Cruising Tokyo's waterways
2018/04/17 - Wisteria blossoms in Ashikaga Flower Park
2018/01/18 - Shinanomachi, the Backcountry of Nagano

2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017
2017/10/25 - The 45th Tokyo Motor Show
2017/10/11 - Dipping into the three onsen towns of Yamanaka, Yamashiro and Katayamazu
2017/07/24 - Remote Riches in Toyama
2017/07/03 - Spiritual Chichibu
2017/05/02 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2017/04/14 - Sneak Peek from Ginza Six
2017/03/21 - A bit of everything in Fukui
2017/03/13 - Nikko Toshogu Uncovered
2017/02/15 - Subculture in Ikebukuro
2017/02/07 - Travel to the Goto Islands
2017/02/06 - Nagasaki Lantern Festival

2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/12/19 - Winter Illuminations in Tokyo
2016/10/24 - The way of old on the Kunisaki Peninsula
2016/10/11 - Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu
2016/08/27 - Fool's Dance at Koenji Awa Odori
2016/08/16 - The three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan
2016/06/20 - Train travel into the Ise-Shima region
2016/04/03 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2016/03/08 - The hunt for Namahage on the Oga Peninsula
2016/03/02 - Sake Sangria
2016/02/20 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2016/01/26 - Tour de Reinan: Obama, Oi and Takahama
2016/01/25 - Tour de Reinan: Tsuruga, Mihama and Wakasa

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima
2015/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kankakei
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan
2015/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2015/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Dazaifu
2015/10/28 - The 44th Tokyo Motor Show
2015/10/21 - Hirado, where East meets West
2015/10/20 - Kujukushima Islands and Winter Illumination at Huis Ten Bosch
2015/10/19 - Navigating the Christian sites in Nagasaki
2015/10/18 - Cosplay at Haco Stadium Tokyo
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2015/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2015/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2015/09/16 - Nakanojo Biennale 2015
2015/08/19 - Traditional culture and hot springs of the Aizu Region
2015/08/17 - Nature and Hot Springs at Naruko Onsen
2015/08/04 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2015
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/29 - Hakodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/21 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/08 - Fukushima Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/06 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/02 - Nara Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/01 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/31 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/25 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Sendai
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Tokyo
2014/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2014/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/10/31 - Autumn Color Report: Karuizawa
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2014/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2014/10/01 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/06/19 - Toranomon Hills opens in Tokyo
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu-Wakamatsu Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/04 - Early Tokyo Blossom Report