Three Best Temples for Fall Foliage in Kyoto + their Highlights
The Fall season is right around the corner in Japan and leaves will start changing color. In our previous article, we introduced our top four recommend spots for fall foliage viewing in Tokyo. This time it’s Kyoto. Kyoto is full of shrines and temples that allow visitors to experience the traditional Japan. How amazing would it be if it was also a great spot to see the beautiful fall colors of the trees? We are about to introduce to you our recommended spots, and each location’s main feature. We hope you use it to help plan your next trip to Japan.
The Kodai-ji Zen Temple is famous for being built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s wife, Nene, and is especially known for its gardens. The grace and radiance seen in this location is a reflection of that feminine touch.
A must-see at the Kodai-ji Temple is the Garyochi/Reclining Dragon Pond. The reflection of the Momiji trees seen in the water is mystifying.
2. Hojo South Garden
Otamaya is where Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s wife, Nene’s wooden statue is enshrined. The interior is decorated with beautiful Kodai-ji lacquer, and the remaining decorations on the building are also from the original construction.
4. Various Tea Rooms
There are also a variety of buildings within the garden compounds. Out of those buildings, the tea rooms are very popular, and we highly recommend you stop by during your visit. Information: Map
Constructed in 778 AD, I doubt there are many who have not heard of the Kiyomizu Temple, a world heritage. It is one of the top locations even within Kyoto where you are able to see some of the most beautiful Momiji trees. This location is called “Kiyomizu no butai,” aka Kiyomizu’s Stage, which is an elevated stage made from wooden pillars without the use of a single nail. This stage is about 12 meters from the ground (equivalent to a four-storey building.) Please enjoy the panoramic view of the Momiji leaves below you.
In Japan there is an old saying to express someone making a big decision or taking the plunge/chance; “…like jumping off Kiyomizu’s Stage.” This is where that saying originated.
1. Otowa Waterfall
The Otowa Waterfall has long been called the “Golden Water,” and has holy water running through it. There are three streams of water falling from above, which are each said to grant those who drink it with good health, academics, or love. The key point here is to only choose one stream, and not be greedy. It is said that those who drink from multiple streams will experience a lesser effect.
2. Nio Gate/ Sanju no To
The Nio Gate, aka Red Gate, is known for its bright red/vermilion coloring and is a powerful masterpiece. Once you pass through the gate you will see a 31 meter tall “Sanju no To” (or three-storied pagoda) to your right. It is the largest three-storied pagoda in Japan.
3. Jishu Shrine
Just past Kiyomizu’s Stage, there is a small shrine that is believed to hold the God of Love. Within the compounds are “Love Fortune Stones,” and it is said that those who are able to reach the rock at the end with their eyes closed, and without hitting any of the rocks to their sides, will have their true love granted. Information: Map
There are actually many who would say Tofuku-ji Temple has the best Momiji views. There are approximately 2000 Momiji trees, which have a leaf that is split three ways and is known as the Tsuten Momiji. The broad view of Momiji is powerful, and overwhelming.
The Sanmon-Gate is the oldest and largest gate, and is two-stories high. The reflection seen on the water will leave you speechless.
2. North Garden
One of the four gardens; North, South, East and West. There are 108 flagstones, which is the same number of times the New Year’s Eve bell is struck. It is said that each strike represents an earthly desire believed to cause human suffering. The harmonious relationships between the rocks and moss make this one of Japan’s defining gardens.
3. Tsutenkyo Bridge
The reason we feel the Tofuku-ji Temple may be No.1 for fall foliage is this – the Tsutenkyo Bridge is the top spot to enjoy the beautiful Momiji trees. We highly recommend you take the time to make this trip, as there is a big chance it may be the best Momiji viewing you will ever have the pleasure of experiencing! Are you the type who hates busy places? Do not worry. While it is not as popular, we also highly recommend the green Momiji trees that are seen in the summer time, so even if you visit on the off-season we are confident you will still have a great time. Information: Map