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

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2012/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

It was a sunny day at Kyoto. Autumn season fever has hit the city and tourists were spotted in droves. Kyoto has so many good autumn color spots to offer that the season here usually lasts longer than most other cities, spanning across most of November into early December. I heard that many hotels have already been fully booked for the next couple of weeks, which gives an idea just how popular Kyoto is, in particular during this time of the year.

My first stop was at Tofukuji, one of Kyoto's famous zen temples. The temple was established in the Kamakura Period (1192-1333) and has many beautiful temple buildings to be appreciated. One of the best spots to look for autumn colors here is around the Tsutenkyo Bridge.

Today, colors peaked for about 40-50% of the trees, many of which were maple trees. Interestingly, as many trees there were already with vivid warm colors, there were still a noticeable number of those whose leaves were still fresh green. Colors overall should get even better than they already were over the next few days.

Tsutenkyo Bridge
Looking around from Tsutenkyo Bridge
Garden at Tofukuji
Red maples
Green maples
Tsutenkyo Bridge 2
People happily taking pictures
More colors
Fallen leaves

My next stop was at Tenryuji Temple in the Sagano District of Kyoto, which is a designated Unesco World Cultural Heritage site. I visited its Sogenchi Garden, a beautiful landscape garden by the famous garden designer Muso Soseki. Colors here were not as advanced as those at Tofukuji, and I think they might take a week of more before they reach their best.

I also made a quick stop at the nearby Togetsukyo Bridge of Arashiyama, the location which is famous both for the brilliant cherry blossom and autumn color scenery that it offers. Colors at the bridge were similarly at an early stage, which makes it a good candidate for visitors coming to Kyoto during late November.

Tenryuji Temple
Locals and foreign tourists enjoying each others' company
Sogenchi Garden of Tenryuji
Garden from a different angle
Visitors appeared in droves
View from Togetsukyo Bridge at Arashiyama
Spotted a man dressed as a clown distributing pamphlets while crossing the bridge
Colors still not vivid at Arashiyama

The trip to Sanzenin Temple absolutely brightened up my day with fantastic views of autumn colors in its moss garden. The temple is located in the Ohara District at the northern suburbs of the city center. While it took a couple of train transfers and a bus ride to get there, the 75 minutes or so was definitely time well spent.

The slope that lead to the temple was lined with shops selling local crafts and foodstuff, and today I found shopkeepers gleefully beckoning customers as they strolled by in numbers. I thought to myself that while sometimes it might be frustrating to have crowds in the way while you are traveling, I sort of liked it here in Kyoto during the autumn season as it adds to the atmosphere.

Sanzenin itself was looking exceptionally good today, with its moss garden beautifully decorated by maples at their peak. Actually, many of the trees have already lost leaves, adding to the scenery as the fallen leaves sat beautifully on the moss. Those who want to catch autumn foliage here had better hurry though, as the branches are continuing to shed more leaves as I write.

Approach to Sanzenin was lined with shops
Cat cozy on a scooter seat (along the path to Sanzenin)
Arriving at Sanzenin
Man appreciating the view
Fallen maples and moss
Garden at Sanzenin
I had been waiting to take this picture of Jizo Bodhisattva in the moss
Fallen maples and moss 2

My last stops of the day were to Nanzenji and Eikando, which were about a five minute walk away from each other. Colors were already very pleasant at Nanzenji and should continue to improve over the next few days. I thought the views at Eikando were outstandingly spectacular and spectacularly outstanding. It is no wonder that the temple is a famed autumn color spot.

Until December 2, Eikando is having daily light up events from 17:30 to 20:30. Admission fee is 600 yen.

Nice tunnel along the way to Nanzenji
Tenjuan Temple
Nice colors
Close up of some maples
Around Sanmon Gate of Nanzenji
View from Sanmon Gate
Lady in yukata
Maples with interesting colors
At Eikando
Hojo Pond
Torii Gate
View of the city from Tahoto Pagoda

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List of Posts:
2014/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2014/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumae
2014/04/23 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takato
2014/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2014/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hikone
2014/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsuyama
2014/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2014/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2014/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/03/06 - Shopping around Northern Osaka
2014/01/23 - Nikko in Winter

2013/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2013
2013/12/06 - Kamakura Report
2013/11/26 - Tokyo Report
2013/11/22 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/21 - Miyajima Report
2013/11/19 - Korankei Report
2013/11/18 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/11 - Sakurayama Report
2013/11/08 - Karuizawa Report
2013/10/29 - Nikko Report
2013/10/18 - Nasu Report
2013/10/17 - Nikko Report
2013/10/14 - Mount Fuji Report
2013/10/10 - Oze Report
2013/09/27 - Alpine Route Report
2013/09/13 - Nakanojo Biennale 2013
2013/08/07 - Exploring Tokyo 2: Around the Tokyo Imperial Palace
2013/05/20 - Tottori Sand Museum 2013
2013/05/07 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2013/05/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2013/05/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2013/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2013/04/23 - Northern Kanto Flower Report
2013/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takayama
2013/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumoto
2013/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2013/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2013/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Gunma
2013/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/31 - Visiting Shodoshima for the Setouchi Triennale 2013
2013/03/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/27 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2013/03/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/12 - Tokyo Early Cherry Blossom Report
2013/02/17 - Tokamachi Snow Festival
2013/02/16 - Zao Snow Monster Report
2013/02/15 - Yokote Kamakura Festival
2013/01/10 - Winter Visit to Manza Onsen
2013/01/02 - Tokyo New Year Report

2012/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2012
2012/12/11 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2012/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Takaosan
2012/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/15 - Autumn Color Report: Shosenkyo
2012/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Yamadera
2012/11/06 - Autumn Color Report: Naruko
2012/11/05 - Autumn Color Report: Hiraizumi
2012/11/01 - Autumn Color Report: Kuju
2012/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Minakami
2012/10/24 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/16 - Autumn Color Report: Norikura
2012/10/12 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2012/10/09 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2012/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kurodake
2012/09/27 - Autumn Color Report: Kogen Onsen
2012/09/26 - Autumn Color Report: Asahidake
2012/09/17 - Exploring Tokyo: Gate Bridge
2012/08/20 - Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2012
2012/06/27 - Hiking at Mount Azuma
2012/06/18 - Legoland Discovery Center opens in Odaiba
2012/06/18 - Hydrangea Flowers in Kamakura
2012/06/04 - Tokyo Skytree
2012/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sapporo
2012/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2012/05/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiraizumi
2012/04/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2012/04/24 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukushima
2012/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2012/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiroshima
2012/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2012/04/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2012/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2012/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kagoshima
2012/03/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2012/03/08 - Plum Blossom Report from Kairakuen, Mito
2012/03/07 - Trip to Iwaki, Fukushima
2012/02/21 - Plum Blossom Report from Tokyo
2012/01/30 - Skiing in Inawashiro, Fukushima
2012/01/27 - Kusatsu Hot Springs