Aug. 28, 2018 UPDATE
Most beautiful autumn leaf viewing spots in Kyoto
Autumn leaves viewing spots easily accessible by Keihan and Eiden
Keihan is a company that runs a railway between Osaka and Kyoto, and Eiden is also a railway that belongs to the same company, but the trains are smaller and more tram-like. With Keihan you can easily visit both Uji and Kiyomizu Temple, but this time we’re also going to take a look at the autumn leaves spots you can visit a bit further up north.
Kiyomizu TempleThis temple needs no introduction. Although Kiyomizu Temple is under renovations until 2020, the temple still looks stately and the view from its stage is great. Even if the temple is under renovations, it’s still really crowded, so an early visit is advisable during the autumn leaves season. The temple opens its doors for visitors at 6 am, so it’s the spot for early risers in Kyoto. The closest Keihan station is Kiyomizu-Gojo Station.
Kyoto Imperial PalaceThe Kyoto Imperial Palace is a must-visit for everyone coming to Kyoto who is interested in Japanese court-architecture (and who don’t want to make a reservation for Katsura or Shugakuin Rikyu villas).
The imperial garden looks beautiful all year round, but it’s especially beautiful in autumn. And now that you don’t need a reservation anymore to enter the Imperial Palace, you get to see the beautiful Japanese buildings and the autumn leaves together. Truly a breathtaking scene. The closest Keihan stations are Jingu-Marutamachi on the south side and Demachiyanagi on the north side.
Ruriko-in TempleRuriko-in is a not-so-big temple with huge lines to actually get in. But the view, in my opinion, is worth it. As the temple itself is actually quite small, they limit the number of people allowed to enter it, so inside it doesn’t feel too crowded, even though the lines to enter it are long.
The main attraction here has to be this table which is polished so well that the autumn leaves are reflected in it. There is often a line of people waiting to get their chance to take pictures here, so you have to have your camera ready if you want to take a nice pic here. When I went to Ruriko-in, I only had one minute to take a picture here. The closest station is Eiden’s Yase-Hieizanguchi.
Kifune ShrineKifune Shrine is one of the most popular sightseeing destinations in northern Kyoto. Its stairway lined by red lanterns is a sight worth beholding any time of the year, but especially in autumn, when everything surrounding the stairs turns into vivid shades of red.
It does take some time to get to Kifune Shrine from central Kyoto, as you have to first take Keihan to Demachiyanagi, then Eiden to Kibuneguchi Station, and from there you still have a short bus ride or a 30-minute walk to get to it. The closest station is Eiden’s Kibuneguchi.
Kurama TempleYou can get to Kurama Temple by Eiden, but you can also hike to it from Kifune Shrine or vice versa. This temple puts the focus on a special kind of “cosmological” Buddhism, and in Japan, it’s considered to be a “power spot,” a place where the Japanese people say they can feel a special kind of connection with nature.
As with Kifune Shrine, Kurama Temple is in north Kyoto, so the autumn leaves here can be seen earlier than in the city center. The closest station is Eiden’s Kurama Station, although this temple has a special trick up its sleeve: Kurama Temple is the only religious entity in the word that operates its own railway. So be sure to also ride the cable car!