May. 14, 2018 UPDATE

Five cool and pleasant places in Kyoto to enjoy the green leaves of the beginning summer!

Summer is finally here in Kyoto! The leaves are budding and the green canopy of them envelopes Kyoto in its leafy embrace.
Kitano Tenmangu

Summer is here in Kyoto, and it means all the plants are exuberant with their green leaves. The Japanese people call this season “The season of fresh green” because, at the beginning of summer, the leaves are an especially vibrant shade of green. The temples of Kyoto are most famous for the way they look surrounded by autumn leaves, but this is a good chance to see them surrounded by green leaves. Also, in May the weather is not yet that hot if you walk under the leaves, so this is a great time to spend some time in Kyoto. If you want to see Kyoto when it’s not the high season here, I recommend coming in May!


1Jisso-in Temple

Jisso-in Temple is located in north Kyoto, and it’s famous for its maple trees, which surround the historic temple buildings with their refreshingly green leaves. 

The temple is actually famous for its floor. This is because the floor of the temple is so clean that the beautiful maple trees outside of it reflect on it, and you get to see a beautiful play of nature on it. Don’t forget to take a look at the beautiful sliding door paintings, which just add to the greatness of this place. 



2Kifune Shrine

Kifune Shrine is surrounded by thick forests on all sides, so the air here is around 3-5 degrees Celsius cooler than in the middle of Kyoto. A great place to get away from the hotness of Kyoto in summer! 

While walking at the shrine, I’d like you to pay attention to ema, the wooden votive tablets you can see hanging on some parts of it. They actually change in accordance with the season, and in May they’re green maple leaves. Try writing one yourself, and just enjoy the calm atmosphere and listen to the susurration of the river close by. 



3Ninna-ji Temple

Ninna-ji Temple is world-renowned for its cherry blossoms, but in the beginning moments of summer, you can enjoy the Japanese garden of this temple in a completely different manner, by sitting down here and contemplating on the brilliant green, but in some way solemn and stately, scenery unfolding before you. 

Ninna-ji is a vast, sprawling temple complex, where you can see leafy green all around you and enjoy the gentle summer wind. There is something comforting about being surrounded by the greenness, and there won’t be as many people as during the cherry blossom season, so you can take your time to see the temple. 



4Nanzen-ji Temple

Nanzen-ji Temple is one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Kyoto, and it’s an especially popular spot to see the autumn leaves. But I’m of the opinion that the green leaves of the beginning summer don’t lose to the autumn leaves at all! 

The weather will feel a bit cooler at Nanzen-ji, as you get to walk under both the trees and aqueduct running through the temple grounds. You can also enjoy the vibrant contrast of the aqueduct and the green leaves. 



5Honen-in Temple

If you however like something a bit quieter, and a bit more out of the beaten path, then I’m sure that you’ll like Honen-in Temple, located quite close to the world-famous Ginkaku-ji Temple. 

The thatched roofs of the temple buildings and the white pebbles of the garden make this temple look very traditional in a Japanese way. The combination of the green leaves and the rays of sun getting through the thick canopy make the temple garden look so beautiful you’re unlikely to ever forget it'


Vanessa[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ] STAFF DETAIL
Kyoto is just starting to enter the world of vivid greens, and everything is overflowing with the abundant life-force of our mother earth. The weather is warm, so what better time could there be to relax by walking to a temple or two. Summer is not the main sightseeing season in Kyoto, but the greenness of it is sure to give you a different kind of Kyoto-experience. I welcome you to green Kyoto!
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