Dec. 08, 2017 UPDATE
Perfect guide for autumn leaves in Kyoto
Part 2

More classic spots around an hour away from Kyoto Station

In part one, the temples were not too far from Kyoto Station, but in part two they are about an hour away from the center of Kyoto. The trip to these places will take around an hour by bus or train, but these are all great places, just as great as the ones we had in part one.

But as these temples and spots are not as easy to get to as Tofuku-ji and Kiyomizu, this also means that if you get your timing right there won’t be as many people and you get to look at the autumn leaves in peace.
Shisen-do
Shisen-do
You can get to Shisen-do, which is in the Ichijoji area, by taking the Eizan Electric Railway from Demachiyanagi Station. This mountain villa is located in the middle of a quiet residential area, and except for the autumn leaves period, it’s usually not visited by that many people. The Chinese garden with its round Azalea bushes is the star of the show at this villa. In autumn you can enjoy the contrast between the white pebbles, the green leaves of the bushes, and the red and yellow of the leaves, which together make a scene that delights the eye. The garden can be enjoyed both by walking or you can sit down inside the villa.

Best time for the autumn leaves: Middle of November to the first part of December.
Ryoan-ji Temple
Ryoan-ji Temple
Ryoan-ji with its rock garden is one of the most famous sightseeing places in Kyoto. The rock garden with 15 stones has an atmosphere full of wabi and sabi, but it’s at its best in autumn when you get to see the autumn leaves at the same time. There are maple trees all around the temple grounds, so even the walk to the rock garden is fun. The temple is full of places where you can enjoy autumn leaves, like the pond lined with maple trees and the tunnel of autumn leaves in front of the temple kitchen, Kuri. It takes around 40 minutes from Kyoto Station by bus to get to Ryoan-ji, but the temple is still very popular. The rock garden can get crowded so we recommend going early.

Best time for the autumn leaves: Middle of November to the first part of December.
Ninna-ji Temple
Ninna-ji Temple
Ninna-ji Temple is a World Heritage Site with vast grounds where you can find many interesting examples of Buddhist architecture such as the Kondo main hall and Five-Storied Pagoda. In autumn you can enjoy these buildings together with the autumn leaves, but the main path to the main hall is especially worth a mention. You can also enjoy Ryoan-ji and Kinkaku-ji together with Ninna-ji, as these three World Heritage Site temples are not too far from each other. The nice things about Ninna-ji is that it’s not as crowded as Ryoan-ji and Kinkaku-ji.

Best time for the autumn leaves: Middle of November to the first part of December.
Jojakko-ji Temple
Jojakko-ji Temple
Jojakko-ji is a quiet temple in the Arashiyama area. The temple is located some way to north from the Bamboo Grove, you will know it from the thatched roof of its gate. In autumn the normally quiet temple turns into a busy spot full of tourists and locals wanting to see the autumn leaves. It has also been designated as an important cultural property of Japan. In autumn the contrast between Tahoto Pagoda with its traditional Japanese roof and the autumn leaves is something you just have to go and see.

Best time for the autumn leaves: Middle of November to the first part of December.
Nison-in Temple
Nison-in Temple
This is also one of the recommended spots in Arashiyama. This temple can be found some way farther from Jojakko-ji. The road from the stately gate of the temple to the main buildings is so wide it is sometimes called “The autumn leaves horse-riding grounds of Nison-in.” The next gate you are going to see is called the Chokushimon, and the autumn leaves you can see from there are also exceptional in their beauty. Although this temple is some way from the center of Arashiyama, it’s surely worth a visit.

Best time for the autumn leaves: Middle of November to the first part of December.
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is around 40 minutes bus ride away from Kyoto Station, and the shrine is known as a great place to see plum blossoms in spring, and for the Odoi fortification built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The maple tree garden by the Odoi is open to the public every year during the autumn leaves period. The vermilion Uguisubashi Bridge, the red leaves, the leaves that have already dropped to the Kamiya River, and the main hall of the shrine all make the atmosphere feel mystical. If you go in the morning or afternoon you should be able to view the autumn leaves in peace.

Best time for the autumn leaves: Middle of November to the first part of December.
All of these places are great places to visit during the autumn leaves season, but if you visit them in the morning or afternoon they shouldn’t be as crowded. The temples and shrines here are all surrounded by nature, so may I suggest you plan your itinerary based on both parts one and two?
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