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[Latest Edition] Top 15 Fall Foliage Spots in Kyoto – Including Timings and Illumination Schedules

The beautiful autumn foliage in Kyoto has been captivating people since ancient times. However, if you go to Kyoto, it would be such a waste if you only view the leaves from the bottom or from under the trees! This article will introduce 15 recommended spots in Kyoto where you can enjoy the autumn foliage in various ways, such as reflected on the surface of a pond, or contrasted with green moss. The best times to visit will also be covered, so keep reading to find out more!

1. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

At Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, the Momiji-en garden that houses about 350 maple trees is illuminated during the autumn foliage season. The best leaves to see here are those over the vermilion-lacquered arched bridge called Uguisu-bashi, and the countless fallen leaves at Kamiyagawa River under the bridge. The admission fee also includes a tea-cake that is associated with Sen no Rikyu (the founder of the tea ceremony).

Momiji-en Garden details:
[Opening period] October 25th (Friday) - December 8th (Sunday)
[Best time to see autumn foliage] Late November - early December
[Illumination] November 9th (Saturday) - December 8th (Sunday)
[Admission fee] Adult: 1,000 JPY, Child: 500 JPY (Tea-cake included)

1. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Office, Bakuro-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

2. Daikakuji Temple

At Daikakuji Temple, the illumination event is called Shinku no Mizu-kagami (deep crimson reflections on water). The autumn leaves that are reflected on the surface of the still-as-a-mirror Osawa Pond create a truly magical sight. You will also see the reflection of Shingyohoto Pagoda floating in splendor on the surface of the water at Hojochi Pond, which is right beside Osawa Pond.

Details:
[Best time to see/schedule] Late November - early December
[Illumination] November 8th (Friday) – December 1st (Sunday)
[Admission fee] Adult: 500 JPY, Child: 300 JPY
* Even guests who come during the day will need to pay the admission fee again for the illumination event

2. Daikakuji Temple

4 Sagaosawa-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

3. Eikando

Official name: Shojuraigousan Muryojuin Zenrin-ji
This is a temple that is commonly referred to as Eikando. It has long been referred to as "Eikando of Maple" and is one of the top spots for fall colors in Kyoto. There are approximately 3,000 maple trees on the grounds, enchanting visitors with their dazzling colors. The best locations are around Hojo-ike pond in the middle and Tahoto pagoda, which is at the highest point of the precincts. The foliage is illuminated at night.

[Best time to see] Mid to late November
[Illuminations in 2019] November 6th (Wednesday) - December 4th (Wednesday)
[Admission fee]
During the Autumnal Exhibition (November 6th (Wednesday) - December 4th (Wednesday) 2019): Adult 1,000 JPY, elementary, junior high and high school student 400 JPY
Fee to see the illuminations is 600 JPY for junior high school students and older (* Even guests who come during the day will need to pay the admission fee again for the illumination event)

3. Eikando

48 Eikando, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

4. Ohara Sanzen-in

Ohara Sanzen-in is famous for its beautiful moss, and during autumn, the moss is covered in falling deep-red leaves. If you want to take a photo, you should not limit yourself to Shuheki-en Garden, and should also check out the front of the Shinden (Emperor’s Residence) and Yusei-en Garden. You should take a shot of the landscape with the structures from far away, of course, but note that a close-up shot of the moss and autumn leaves together is also wonderful.

Details:
[Best time to see/schedule] Mid- to late November
[Admission fee] Adult: 700 JPY, Junior high school/high school students: 400 JPY, Elementary school students: 150 JPY

4. Ohara Sanzen-in

540 Ohara Raikoin-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

5. Tofukuji Temple

At Tofukuji Temple, you will see autumn leaves spreading in front of your eyes from Tsutenkyo Bridge, which connects the Hondo (main temple) and Kaisando (Founder’s Hall). The maple trees at this temple that turn golden in color during autumn are so beautiful that they are just like the setting sun. Due to safety reasons, taking photos is prohibited at Tsutenkyo and Gaunkyo bridges from the middle to the end of November, when the temple is usually very crowded. However, the view of the autumn foliage from the railings is still definitely worth seeing!
Details:
[Best time to see/schedule] Late November - early December
[Admission fee] 400 JPY for adults and 300 JPY for elementary/junior high school students at Tsutenkyo/Kaisando, and 400 JPY for adults and 300 JPY for elementary/junior high school students at Honbo Teien garden

5. Tofukuji Temple

15-778 Honmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

6. Kodaiji Temple

The autumn leaves at Kodaiji Temple are reflected on Garyochi Pond, which is rumored to be "quiet, with everybody moved beyond words even if it is crowded". The projection mapping (spacial augmented reality) show that is held at Hashin-tei Garden has also become a hot topic of conversation in recent years. You will enjoy dynamic images and music with the white sand of the karesansui (dry landscape garden) serving as the canvas.

Details:
[Best time to see/schedule] Mid-November - early December
[Illumination] October 25th (Friday) – December 15th (Sunday)
[Admission fee] Adult: 600 JPY, Junior high school/high school students: 250 JPY

6. Kodaiji Temple

526 Kodaiji Shimokawara-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

7. Chion-in Temple

Chion-in Temple’s Sanmon gate is so big that it can be a bit overwhelming. The inside of the Sanmon gate is open for special viewing by the public, so you can admire the autumn leaves from the tower and the statue of Buddha inside. Other highlights at this temple are the Yuzen-en Garden, where a statue of Kannon Bodhisattva towers in the middle of the pond, and the illumination of the Great Bell Tower.

Details:
[Best time to see/schedule] Mid-November - early December (special viewing is from November 1st to 11th)
[Illumination] November 1st (Friday) – December 1st (Sunday), fees are 800 JPY for adults and 400 JPY for children
[Admission fee] Free for Chion-in Temple; however, fees are 300 JPY for adults and 150 JPY for children at Yuzen-en, and 400 JPY for adults and 200 JPY for children at Hojo Garden, while the common ticket (for both Yuzen-en and Hojo Garden) is priced at 500 JPY for adults and 250 JPY for children.

7. Chion-in Temple

400 Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

8. Kiyomizu Temple

Below the so-called "stage" of Kiyomizu Temple are autumn leaves that are all lit up, while beams of light that represent the mercy and compassion of Kannon Bodhisattva shoot up into the sky. If you want to appreciate the main shrine hall and autumn foliage as they are depicted in photos, then you should head to the area around the nearby Okunoin (inner shrine sanctuary).

Details:
[Best time to see/schedule] Late November - early December
[Illumination] November 16th (Saturday) – December 1st (Sunday)
[Admission fee] Adult: 400 JPY, Elementary/junior high school students: 200 JPY

8. Kiyomizu Temple

1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

9. Shimogamo Shrine

Shimogamo Shrine is a World Heritage Site. Together with the Romon Gate and the vermilion torii (Shinto arched gates) that are often seen in pictures, you must visit Tadasu no Mori (Forest of Atonement), located near the shrine approach, which has been in existence for over 2,000 years. You will be able to see the trees in various colors and hear the murmuring streams in the same way that people in ancient times did.
Details:
[Best time to see/schedule] Early December – mid-December
[Admission fee] Free to go inside the shrine precincts

9. Shimogamo Shrine

59 Shimogamo Izumigawa-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

10. Enkoji Temple

Enkoji Temple is famous for its autumn leaves that paint the green moss in the garden in deep red hues, creating what is known as “chiri momiji/shiki momiji” (falling leaves). You will get to appreciate the foliage not just from inside the structures, but also when you walk in the garden. Also, make sure to check out the suikinkutsu (a water harp chamber, wherein the pot underground is filled with water so that drops of water will create an echo).

Details:
[Best time to see/schedule] Mid-November - early December
[Admission fee] Adult: 500 JPY, Junior high school/high school students: 400 JPY, Elementary school students: 300 JPY

10. Enkoji Temple

13 Ichijoji Kotani-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

11. Komyo-ji

This is a Buddhist temple that is known as one of the best places for fall foliage in Nagaokakyo City in southwestern Kyoto Prefecture. During the height of the foliage season, hundreds of maple trees light up the vast temple grounds as if they are on fire. In particular, the gently sloping main path to the temple turns into a beautiful red tunnel and is the perfect place to take pictures.

[Best time to see] Mid-November - early December
[2019 special entry for fall foliage] November 16th (Saturday) - December 8th (Sunday)
[Admission fee] Free. 500 JPY for adults (free for junior high school age and younger) during the special entry for fall foliage period.

11. Komyo-ji

26-1, NIshi Jonouchi, Ao, Nagaokakyo-shi, Kyoto

12. Rurikoin

This is a Buddhist temple by the pond of Yase, which was historically beloved by aristocrats and warriors as a "place of tranquility". It is only open to the public during the special admission periods in the spring and fall. There are several gardens on the grounds, each with their unique charms, where you can enjoy beautiful landscapes. A sight that is famous, particularly on social media, is the view from the second floor of the drawing room. The colorful foliage in the garden reflected on the top of the black table in the room is stunningly beautiful.

[Best time to see] Mid-November - early December
[2019 special fall admission] October 1st (Tuesday) - December 10th (Tuesday)
[Admission fee] Adult 2,000 JPY

12. Rurikoin

55, Kamitakano Higashiyama, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

13. Hogon-in Temple

This is a sub-temple* of the World Heritage Site, Tenryu-ji. It is not open to the public except during the special admission period in the fall. The famous Lion's Roar Garden, which skillfully employs the background scenery of Mt. Arashiyama, delights visitors in the fall with the reds and yellows of the leaves. The garden is also famous for the beauty of its moss which contrasts beautifully with the colorful leaves.

[Best time to see] Mid-November - early December
[2019 special fall admission period] October 5th (Saturday) - December 8th (Sunday)
[2019 special fall nighttime admissions (illuminations)] November 8th (Friday) - December 1st (Sunday)
[Admission fee] Special fall admission period: Adult 500 JPY, elementary and junior high school student 300 JPY; Special fall nighttime admissions: Adult 600 JPY, elementary and junior high school student 300 JPY (daytime visitors must pay separately for the evening. Additional fees required for special admission to the main hall.)

*Small temples and ancillary temples on the precincts of large Buddhist temples.

13. Hogon-in Temple

36 Sagatenryuji Susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

14. Shisendo

Official name: Shisendo Jozan-ji
Shisendo stands on the grounds of a mountain villa that the poet, Ishikawa Jozan, built in 1641 as his final abode. The elegant garden is painted in beautiful colors in the fall and can be enjoyed by strolling through it, or quietly sitting in the open tatami room. This is a place to revel in a beautiful landscape that is truly a work of art.

[Best time to see] Mid-November - early December
[Admission fee] Adult 500 JPY, high school student 400 JPY, elementary and junior high school student 200 JPY

14. Shisendo

27 Ichijoji Monguchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

15. Jingo-ji

Jingo-ji, which is located midway up Mt. Takao in northwestern Kyoto, is a famous spot for the fall foliage that turns colors earlier than other parts of Kyoto. There is colorful foliage throughout the temple grounds and also up to the mountain gate with old stone steps. The sight of colorful fallen leaves that cover the grounds at the end of the fall is also lovely.

[Best time to see] Early to late November
[Admission fee] Adult (junior high school age and older) 600 JPY, elementary school student 300 JPY

15. Jingo-ji

5 Umegahata Takao-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

The autumn foliage can be enjoyed from before the leaves change color until after the leaves have fallen, so these views won't let visitors down. By all means, enjoy the breathtaking beauty at these spots!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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