Sep. 05, 2018 UPDATE
Most beautiful autumn leaf viewing spots in Kyoto
Take it slowly on Randen tram and see the autumn leaves
If you want to take it slowly and get to see the cityscape of Kyoto while you travel, then the recommended course of action is to take the Randen tramline to see the city and the temples.
Ryoan-ji TempleRyoan-ji Templeis famous for its rock garden which is a bit more colorful than usual in autumn. There is also a pond lined by maple trees that reflects the red and yellow leaves on it beautifully. The temple is not too far from Kinkaku-ji Temple, so it’s easy to combine with a visit to the Golden Pavilion. The closest Randen station is Ryoanji Station.
Ninna-ji TempleNinnaji Temple is a World Heritage Site like Ryoan-ji and Kinkaku-ji, and it’s connected to these two temples by the scenic route of Kinukake no Michi.
The temple grounds of Ninna-ji are vast and there’s a lot to see. You get to see most of the temple for free, but need to pay to enter the garden. While this does cost a few hundred yen, it’s highly recommended as the view of the Five-Storied Pagoda from the garden in autumn is stunning. The closest Randen station is Omuro Ninnaji Station.
Toji-in TempleToji-in Temple is a not too far from Ninna-ji Temple, but as it’s located by a small alley, it’s not that crowded even in autumn. The temple has a beautiful garden and nice, somewhat humoristic paintings of Daruma (Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen).
Consider also ordering a cup of matcha tea here; as you get to sip it while you view the beautiful garden. Matcha here is 500 yen and comes with a traditional Japanese sweet. The closest Randen Station is Toji-in.
Kitano Tenmangu ShrineKitano Tenmangu Shrine is most famous for the flea market that takes place on its grounds every month on the 25th, but it’s also pretty in autumn when the red torii gates of the shrine are surrounded by red maple leaves.
The shrine is also famous for its connections with the god of learning, so its said that if you pat one of the cow statues of the shrine, you will get to be wiser. The closest Randen station is Kitano Hakubaicho Station.
Rokuo-in TempleThis temple is easy to access by Randen, as Randen even has a station for it: Rokuoin Station. The temple is in Arashiyama, but it’s not in the area most tourists go to, so it won’t get as crowded as like Tenryu-ji Temple.
The highlight of the temple is the long path leading to the main hall which is lined by maple trees, so it’s even more beautiful in autumn. This path looks especially beautiful when some of the autumn leaves have already started falling, as during this peak time everything around you will be red, no matter which way you look.