Japan’s Sakura trees may make Spring the most popular travelling period in Japan, but the gorgeous maple and Gingko leaves of October and November leave Autumn not very far behind. Some even claim the warm hues of Autumn to be more beautiful than Spring- and after experiencing it for the first time last year, I can definitely see why. Kyoto in particular is often considered one of the best places in Japan to view the spectacular reds and yellows of fall, and when planning your trip there are several places which are definitely a must-visit, especially during the Koyo ‘red leaf’ season.
One of Kyoto’s many UNESCO world heritage sites, Kiyomizy Dera’s temple grounds become painted in the lovely autumn shades in November. The temple constantly has a festive atmosphere, but in autumn, this atmosphere truly shines along with the pretty amber backgrounds.
A mere 400 yen gives you access to the main temple and the observation areas across the temple, which give gorgeous views of Kiyomizu Dera, rising above the sea of orange maple leaves. There are also tea houses strategically lined beside maple trees, which are very popular among visitors. Location
Tofukuji is a particular stand out in Autumn, as the temple transforms into a magnificent array of deeply pigmented reds and yellows. The renowned view from the Tsutenkyo Bridge is famed all across Japan as it overlooks a canopy of thick maple trees, which showcase their colours in all their glory.
This view comes at a very reasonable 400 yen, which also allows you to explore the Kaisando Hall. Its charming temple grounds make for a wonderful detour from Fushimi Inari, which is barely 10 minutes away. Location
When I visited Arashiyama, I was absolutely floored by its natural beauty. Light was flickering through the thick green groves while raindrops continued to patter down. It is truly remarkable how despite the massive crowds, Arashiyama continues to impress.
In autumn, the rich green bamboo groves are coupled with the fiery reds and brilliant oranges of the surrounding mountains. The bluish-green water from the Katsura river flowing behind give the maple trees a radiant glow. It’s not hard to see why Arashiyama has been given the title ‘nationally designated place of scenic beauty’. Location
With an abundance of maple trees, Eikando’s temple grounds are another one of Kyoto’s celebrated autumn viewing spots. The stunning Hojo pond has become prominent spot to take in the fall colours, which reflect on the water’s surface to create a truly unique viewing experience.
Eikendo temple is on a bit of the pricey side, with admission being 1000 yen during autumn daytime and 600 yen during autumn nighttime. Even so, many flock to see the falling red leaves in Eikando, which is a testament to its beauty. Location
One of my personal favourite places in Kyoto, Fushimi Inari undoubtedly lives up to the hype. Crimson rays illuminated our path as we walked under the maple trees, which were interwoven with the vermilion Torii gates that carved a path leading to the top of the mountain, where a wonderful view of the city awaited.
Quaint little tea houses offered gorgeous views of the colourful mountain along the way up, serving warm green tea to complement the chilly weather. Many fail to realise how beautiful the hiking trail beyond the main shrine is, and you’ll find the crowds disappear as you make your way up. How such a gorgeous attraction still remains completely free is beyond me. Location