“Music saves the soul.” Play softly while you read.
The real motivation of my visit to Kyoto late November last year was to see the enchanting fall colors of Japan. The stunning photos and travel blogs I’ve browsed before my trip left me in so much awe and made me want to see the autumn foliage in person and have photographs of my own. During the week of my visit, not all tourist spots were showing the brilliant red trees. Some were already withered and all set for the winter, some were still turning to red – I named them the late bloomers. Luckily, on my way to meet my Airbnb host at Heian Shrine, a Taxi driver recommended me a number of shrines and parks to visit for the autumn trees that helped me save time for research while in Kyoto.
The imperial heart of Japan, with its awe-inspiring gardens and foliage, momentous shrines and temples, salivating food, and friendly people, what’s not to love in Kyoto? In no particular order in my itinerary, here are a few of the interesting spots I visited that will give you a better appreciation of Kyoto’s autumn leafage. With a not-so-bright-and-sunny weather, I hope you still enjoy the photos.
Among all the shrines I’ve seen exhibiting their gardens dominated by red maple trees, Eikando Shrine of Higashiyama in eastern Kyoto is my favourite. Maybe because it’s the most grandiose of all the sites I’ve visited during the daylight, though raining. Kodaiji and the Kiyomizu-dera temples are, in my opinion, on par with Eikando’s magnificent gardens but I happen to visit the former two at nighttime because of the popular illumination (which I shared in this post), hence I was only able to fully satisfy my eyes’ craving for burning red colors in the latter. With an entrance fee of 1000 yen, I would say that Eikando’s temple grounds of beautiful garden already justified this price even without seeing the interiors of the actual temple halls and buildings.
Yes, the leafage is not red or yellow but I just love this giant camphor tree standing at the entrance of the shrine and you can see it even without paying the 500 yen admission fee. I was not able to spend some time in this shrine in Higashiyama as the sun was about to set and I wanted to see Yasaka Shrine and Maruyama-koen Park that day and thought that the sight of this natural landmark was enough to appreciate Shoren-in. I learnt that the insides of the temple is also lovely.
Also popular for cherry blossom viewing, I went to Maruyama-koen Park (free of admission charge) on foot, braving the cold whether with my leather jacket, for the magnificent foliage. It’s nice that the park has several food stalls serving snacks and beer near the pond; the freshly cooked takoyaki plus a pint of cold golden lager kept me warm while I enjoy the autumn scenery. As soon as the sun set, I continued my walk towards Yasaka Shrine.
There are many temples and shrines at the Arashiyama area and below photos were just from one of the spots I passed through while on my way to the bamboo forest from the Arashiyama station. I can’t remember what the temple is called but I remember that it has a space in its garden where you can play with the fallen dried red maple leaves and scatter it upwards just like a playful kid in movies.
Certainly, there are many other shrines and parks I missed in Kyoto that are surely beautiful during autumn season. I just wished I had more time to spend in Kyoto as there are so much more to explore and appreciate in this city than the beautiful koyo leaves and super nice people. After Bagan, Myanmar, I think Kyoto, Japan is the second in my list of my most favourite cities around the world I have visited.