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Best times to visit Kyoto Temples in Autumn? 2019/8/23 11:40
Dear Japan Guide Community,

I am currently planning a November trip to Kyoto, where I am hoping to enjoy some of the spectacular autumn foliage the city is famous for. I am very excited for this trip, but one thing I'm very nervous about is the crowds.

As I understand it, the general rule is to try to arrive to the most "popular" Temples just before or right at opening time to avoid the huge queues. My particular predicament is that I don't have enough mornings to dedicate to all of the "popular" Temples on my To Do List.

Initially, I had hoped my itinerary would look something like this:

MORNING 1 - Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (followed by Daitoku-ji and Genkoan Temples, if time allows)

MORNING 2 - Jojakkoji Temple (followed by Nisonin and Giouji Temples, if time allows)

MORNING 3 - Hogonin/Tenryuji Temples (probably via Togetsukyo Bridge)

MORNING 4 - Enko-ji Temple (followed by Manshu-in Temple if time allows)

MORNING 5 - Nanzenji Temple (including Tenjuan and Nanzenin Subtemples + Aqueduct)

MORNING 6 - Zenrinji (Eikando) Temple (followed by Shinnyodo Temple, if time allows)

MORNING 7 - Tofukuji Temple

But, as I mentioned above, I don't have 7 mornings to play with. I only have 6. This means one of these "AM plans" is going to have to get bumped to a "PM plan" slot. Thing is, I have no idea which Temples are OK to visit in the afternoon and which ones require a morning visit to avoid drowning in the crowds.

There are other Temples on my To Do List which I have failed to mention here, because I thought maybe those would be "safe" afternoon choices. But now I'm also starting to question my judgement there. My "PM plan" Temples are:
Shoren-in Monzeki Temple
Chion-in Temple
Kodaiji Temple
Kiyomizudera Temple (where I'm not necessarily planning on going to the viewing platform to see the treetops, but rather just strolling along the lower grounds, as I tend to prefer to be UNDER the trees rather than OVER them)

Any insider tips and/or advice regarding my plans would be most appreciated, especially regarding the best access times.

Thanks a million in advance!
by Andrea (guest)  

Re: Best times to visit Kyoto Temples in Autumn? 2019/10/29 07:07
Yes, there are crowds, but I wouldn't stress about it unnecessarily. There will be crowds during autumn and cherry blossom viewing in the spring. But, it's so crowded because it is so beautiful; although I can be slightly annoyed with the crowds, the beautiful sights are worth the discomfort of visiting a crowded place. While early mornings will certainly have fewer visitors to these beautiful places, as you say, you can't be everywhere only in the early mornings. Perhaps you could decide to visit the most crowded places in the early hours, such as Kiyomizudera and Fushimi Inari - but keep in mind, many of the most popular places are lit at night and the bright orange, red and yellow foliage is breathtaking - a sight you wouldn't want to miss and won't soon forget! Kiyomizudera is a great example - it is unbelievably beautiful at night when the building and trees are wonderfully lit. Personally, we like to visit that temple on a day when we can visit during the day and return in the evening (be aware that there is a separate admission at night at many of the temples/shrines lit for autumn nighttime viewing). There are many shops that you can check out on the streets leading up to the temple between your afternoon and evening visits. It sounds like you have done some research to come up with your list of places to visit. I'd suggest trying to read more about each place to see if it is mentioned as a must-see for night time viewing. Then you might be able to better organize your morning/evening sightseeing agenda. I realize that I may have complicated your plans by saying that you should consider daytime AND nighttime visits to some temples/shrines, but that's one of the great things about Japan - there is so much to see and do that each trip will be preparation for your next visit. (I'm going for the 5th time in a couple of weeks! We usually stay for a month and don't get to see everything on our list). So try not to stress and just enjoy as much as you can!
by GLORIA (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Best times to visit Kyoto Temples in Autumn? 2019/10/29 11:58
If you don't worry about the place should be temple and you want to see just the scenery place, one tip is to visit Kyoto palaces.
http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/index.html
You can visit Kyoto palace without reservation though it is necessary to apply and getting the number to visit Katsura palace or Shugakuin palace.
by biwakoman rate this post as useful

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