Oct. 09, 2019 UPDATE
Kyoto's World Heritage Level Autumn Leaves – What’s Your Plans? 2019 Kyoto Autumn Feature
Part 1

Kyoto's Best Autumn Leaf Spots

In part 1 of our 2019 autumn feature, we will introduce you to the best of Kyoto’s moving fall spots. For each spot we include highlights and the best times for viewing, so if you’re thinking of catching the spawling autumn leaf vistas of Kyoto, then make sure to keep this article on hand.
Each spot we’ve listed below have autumn leaves as far as the eye can see and feature that wonderful autumn feeling.
Tōfuku-ji Temple
Tōfuku-ji Temple
Tōfuku-ji Temple stands out among the plethora of fall spots in Kyoto thanks to its sheer scale. Over 2,000 Japanese maple trees spread their roots around this temple’s precinct, meaning no matter where you go, you’ll be sure to catch some of the beautiful red leaves.
Looking out over the trees from the Tsuten-bashi walkway is one of the highlights of Tōfuku-ji Temple.
The best time to visit Tōfuku-ji Temple for the autumn foliage is from mid-November to early December. During this period you’ll be able to catch deep red leaves like those in the picture above.
Tōfuku-ji Temple is also known for its “Chirimomiji,” a beautiful carpet of fallen maple leaves that can be caught in early December.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Kiyomizu-dera Temple
One of the most famous tourist spots in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, is well known for its autumn leaves. As Kiyomizu-dera Temple is built on the side of the Higashiyama mountain and is surrounded by trees, autumn brings a wrap of engulfing bright red leaves. The area the surrounds the human-made pond is particularly impressive. Glancing up from this area, you will see a beautiful three-storied pagoda standing gracefully among the mass of vibrant red leaves. Looking over at the pond, you will also catch a glimpse of a tranquil scene of fallen leaves gently floating over the surface of the water.

One of the must-see things at Kiyomizu-dera Temple is the view from the three-storied Koyasu pagoda of the magnificent main hall. From here you will be able to see the colorful red autumn leaves together with a complete view of the temple’s famous stage.
The best time for viewing the fall leaves at Kiyomizu-dera Temple is late November. During this time, the temple will be lit up at night, so you will be able to enjoy the beautiful foliage at any time of day.
*Due to renovations to the main hall scheduled to continue until 2020, the main section, known as the stage, is surrounded by scaffolding. However, this does not affect the viewing of the surrounding foliage.
Eikan-dō
Eikan-dō
Located at the eastern edge of Kyoto city, Eikan-dō Temple is such a preeminent autumn spot in Kyoto that since ancient times it has been called “Momiji no Eikan-dō” (Eikan-dō of the maples). The temple is home to 3,000 Japanese maples, which paint the grounds a vibrant, beautiful color. A particular highlight of Eikan-dō Temple is the area around the central pond. The beautiful maple trees color the edges of the pond and bring a tranquil atmosphere to the garden. Looking over at the two-storied pagoda from the pond, you’ll be able to see the magical scene of the majestic building engulfed in colorful autumn leaves.
The best time for viewing the fall foliage at Eikan-dō Temple is late November to around early December.
Jōjakkōji Temple
Jōjakkōji Temple
Arashiyama is packed with places to see during the fall. However, one of the best spots has to be the Jōjakkōji Temple. Built halfway up Mt. Ogura, Jōjakkōji Temple has a unique abundance of surrounding greenery and is known for its overflowing number of maple trees. These trees turn the path from the temple gate to the main hall and two-storied pagoda into a veritable tunnel of maple leaves. The area around the pagoda is also famous as an observation point that gives you an unobstructed view of the entirety of Kyoto city.

The best time to catch the foliage is around mid to late November; however, the fall leaves of early December are just as beautiful and it's worth going during this time just to see the fall leaves blanketing the cobblestone steps and moss.
Nison-in Temple
Nison-in Temple
Located directly to the north of Jōjakkōji Temple, Nison-in Temple is another famous Arashiyama autumn spot. The maples that arch over the path leading to the temple can only be described as stunning. The branches of the maples stretch across the path as if they’re trying to cloak the entire sky and wrap the people in their vividly colored leaves. Even when you make your way inside the temple, you’ll be met with the beautiful scene of overgrown maple trees painting the temple gates, halls, and bells with their warm colors.

Usually, the best time to see the autumn leaves here is from mid to late November, so if you make your way here then we’re sure you’ll be able to catch the magnificent maple leaf arch. Also, if you come in early December, just after peak season, you’ll be able to see the blanket of fallen leaves that completely cover the path to the temple.
Ninna-ji Temple
Ninna-ji Temple
Known for its beautiful Omuro Zakura cherry blossoms during the spring, Ninna-ji Temple also boasts gorgeous autumn foliage that is not be looked past. Lining both sides of the stone steps leading to the main hall and around the five-storied pagoda stand majestic maple trees that color the historical buildings with their bright red leaves.

The trees which can be seen from within the palace match perfectly with the walls of the building and give the area a beautifully Japanese atmosphere. Additionally, from the northern garden of the palace, you’ll be able to see the five-storied pagoda standing tall over carefully tended to garden.
Aim for mid-November to early December to see the colorful leaves of the Ninna-ji Temple.
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