by Scott, staff writer of japan-guide.com
This journal is a log of my travels within Japan. Here you'll find my personal opinions on the places I've been and the things I've seen. Also expect to see the occasional review and editorial. Thanks for reading.
2015/11/27 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
Today I spent the day revisiting many of the popular autumn color spots in Kyoto, many of which were most recently covered by Raina on her visit last week. Back then the sights were approaching the peak, and by now they have pretty much all reached the peak.
My first stop this morning was to Arashiyama in northern Kyoto, where I found colors around Togetsukyo Bridge a little surprising. The early changing cherries along the river were still at peak and the maples only just starting to color, which implies that it would be early in the season, but the trees on the slopes behind the bridge have passed the peak already. The spread between the two seems way bigger than I remember from past visits, and really served to remind me that it is hard to judge a site from just one viewpoint.
Next I headed over to Tenryuji Temple where the maples have reached their peak. The colors were especially nice along the approach to the temple and along the walking paths on the hillside behind the temple hall, where the maple trees made canopies that looked like stained glass windows when the sun shined though them.
After leaving Tenryuji I made my way across town to Eikando Temple in eastern Kyoto. When Raina visited a last week the colors were still pretty green around the grounds. However, today there were brilliant red and yellow gem tones all over the area. Eikando was also one of the most crowded places I visited today, with tons of people out enjoying the peak colors. The temple grounds are even better in the evenings when they are lit up. The illumination even lasts till December 3rd, and the lights will be on from 17:30 to 21:00. Admission cost 600 yen and ends at 20:30. Expect crowds.
Moving down south took me to Kiyomizudera Temple and its wooden stage which appeared to float on a sea of matte maple leaves today. The colors were actually quite nice in places, but I don't think they quite hit the peak yet as there was just too much green still in the foliage underneath the main hall. But that only means that it can get better, so I would look forward to see what the next few days can bring. Kiyomizudera will also be lit up in the evenings through December 6th with lights illuminating the temple building and the maples below the stage from 18:00 to 21:30. Admission costs 400 yen and ends at 21:00.
Kyoto City Buses route 207 (the green ones covered by the 500 yen one day bus card) connect Kiyomizudera pretty easily to my final stop today, which was Tofukuji Temple in southern Kyoto. Tofukuji is one of Kyoto's most popular autumn color spots and its easy to see why as there are just tons of maples planted around the grounds which can be enjoyed both from various viewpoints above the trees as well as by strolling about underneath the canopy. The colors themselves were very nice and at the peak. Although they seemed a little more matte looking than in better years, they became nothing brilliant when the sun came out and shined through the leaves.
It looks like that may be it for us this year from the Kansai Region. It was a relatively late season around here this year. We won't be able to report it through to the end, but the peak autumn colors will continue on for another week or so with or without us. Check it out if you can! And be sure to tune in next week when we'll be shifting our coverage to focus on Tokyo.