Autumn leaves seen throughout the prefectures bring out the beauty of the changing seasons.
Among them, autumn leaves in Kyoto with its abundant historical sites and buildings, are truly exceptional.
However, when you actually plan to visit, the abundance of famous spots can make you wonder where to go.
In this article, a Wagokoro editorial team member who is from Kyoto has carefully selected 'Top 20 Recommended Autumn Colors Spots in Kyoto' and will introduce them along with the unique features of each spot!
Please feel free to use this as a reference when visiting Kyoto. 🍁
※Please note that the information in this article is as of May 2021. The content may have changed, so please contact each facility in advance for the most up-to-date information.
Recommended Spots in【Kyoto, Rakuhoku Area (Northern)】
【 Rurikoin Temple】 Like a CG! A Scenic Autumn Colors View Perfect for Instagram
Rurikoin Temple is famous for its 'Momiji on the Floor,' where the autumn leaves reflect on the ground.
Normally, it is closed to the public due to cultural heritage preservation concerns, but special viewings are held twice a year in spring and autumn.
During the autumn leave season, a large number of tourists visit, and wait times can be 2-3 hours.
Of course, the main attraction is the view of the autumn leaves from the second floor.
However, descending to the first floor, you'll find historic gardens like the 'Ruri Garden' and 'Garyu-garyo Garden,' where the vibrant contrast between the red maple leaves and the green moss on the ground is a must-see!"
【 Sanzenin Temple】 The View from the Garden, 'The Jewel Box of the East,' is Breathtaking
Located northwest foot of Mount Hiei in Ohara, Sanzenin Temple is renowned for its beautiful gardens, featuring two distinct garden areas known as Yuiseien and Shuhekien.
Yuiseien, home to the Ojo Gokurakuin temple, is often referred to as 'The Jewel Box of the East.'
Here, you'll find a landscape adorned with lush green moss that seems like a world apart from reality, with majestic cedar and cypress trees standing tall and leaving a lasting impression.
During the autumn colors season, the red leaves contrasting against the greenery of both gardens create a truly captivating sight.
In addition, inside Yuiseien, you can also enjoy looking for the six Jizo statues while taking in the autumn leaves' beauty. 🍁
【 Kifune Shrine】 Welcoming Visitors with Vibrant Autumn Leaves as Kyoto's Inner Parlor
Kifune Shrine is located in the northeastern part of Kyoto city, and due to its relatively cooler climate compared to other areas, it offers an early glimpse of autumn colors.
The entire shrine grounds are surrounded by trees, making the expansive view of autumn leaves a captivating sight.
Moreover, during the autumn season, you can see the enchanting spectacle of the shrine's approach with autumn colors illuminated by lanterns.
Kifune Shrine is also famous for its matchmaking blessings, and you can enjoy unique experiences such as 'Mizu-Uranai Omikuji,' where you float your fortune slip on sacred water.
So, there's more to enjoy here beyond just the autumn leaves!
【 Shisendo Temple】Captivating Visitors with the Contrast of Red, White, and Green
The 'Shisendo' features a garden view from the 'Shisendo-no-ma,' where white sand is laid out, and neatly trimmed azalea bushes create a beautiful contrast with the autumn leaves.
In addition to admiring the autumn colors from the place, the Shisendo-no-ma allows you to take a little walk through the fall colors, providing the opportunity to enjoy the ambiance of Kyoto while experiencing the beauty of the changing leaves.
Furthermore, within walking distance from Shisendo, you can also visit the equally stunning garden at the 'Manshuin Monzeki,' allowing you to further immerse yourself in the splendors of autumn in Kyoto.
【 Kuramadera Temple】Visited by Sei Shonagon! The place of Ushiwakamaru's (Minamoto no Yoshitsune) Shugyo (training) and Enjoying Autumn colors Viewing
Known as a sacred mountain since ancient times, Kuramadera Temple, where emperors, influential figures, and even Sei Shonagon have made pilgrimages. It's also famous for being the temple where Minamoto no Yoshitsune, known as Ushiwakamaru in his youth, spent his days in Buddhist training.
Kuramadera Temple is situated in the northeast of Kyoto, and its relatively cooler climate allows for the early arrival of autumn foliage.
When it comes to 'Kurama's autumn leaves,' the Niomon Gate is a must-see. The surrounding autumn foliage paints a magnificent spectacle in the fall, so much so that it's often said, 'When you think of Kurama's autumn leaves, you think of the Niomon Gate.'
Beautiful foliage also lines both sides of the approach leading to the main hall, allowing you to enjoy the autumn scenery as you walk.
Additionally, if you opt for public transportation, taking a train allows you to enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage from the train window during your journey.
Recommended Spots in【Kyoto, Rakusei Area (Western)】
【 Kitano Tenmangu Shrine】A shrine dedicated to the deity of learning, it offers plenty of charm during the autumn foliage season!
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, well-known for its dedication to Sugawara no Michizane, the deity of learning, is also famous for its autumn leaves attractions.
The protective water embankment constructed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, known as 'Momiji-en' or the 'Maple Garden,' has become one of the popular autumn foliage spots at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.
The Momiji-en has around 350 maple trees, and as autumn arrives, the entire area is adorned with beautiful colored leaves.
In the evening, both the Momiji-en and the shrine grounds are illuminated, offering a different and enchanting view from daytime.
Furthermore, the Uguisu Bridge, which leads across the embankment, is an excellent spot for photography, attracting many visitors eager to capture the scenic beauty!
【 Arashiyama】The autumn leaves of the surrounding mountains provides a truly exceptional natural spectacle.
Arashiyama has rightfully earned its place in the '100 Selected Japanese Autumn Foliage Spots' and is undoubtedly one of Kyoto's most iconic destinations for enjoying autumn colors.
Centered around the Togetsukyo Bridge, the entire area is a stunning autumn wonderland, making it a must-visit tourist attraction.
With the surrounding mountains as a backdrop, capturing the autumn foliage in photos from the Togetsukyo Bridge is a truly enchanting experience.
Moreover, the Hozugakyo River, which flows around the Arashiyama area, is also famous for its autumn foliage.
The Hozugawa River Boat Ride, which takes approximately 2 hours to travel from the Hozugawa Bridge in Kameoka City to Arashiyama, is a popular way to savor the beauty of the season.
【 The Sagano Scenic Railway (Sagano Trolley Train)】The autumn leaves viewed from the train window seems like the mountains themselves are alive.
The Sagano Torokko Train, a railway journey that takes approximately 25 minutes one way from Torokko Saga Station to Torokko Kameoka Station, offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the autumn foliage in the Hozugawa Gorge from the comfort of a Torokko (trolley).
Especially during the most stunning autumn foliage segments, the train slows down, allowing passengers to leisurely look at the beautiful colors from their windows.
Additionally, one of the joys of riding the trolley train is witnessing the conductor's performances. However, during the peak autumn season, tickets can sell out quickly.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to purchase your tickets in advance, as they are available for online purchase starting one month before the date of travel.
【 Tenryu-ji Temple】Experience a fantastical display of autumn colors alongside a UNESCO World Heritage site...
Tenryu-ji Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its special scenic garden called Sogenchi Garden, the first of its kind to be designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty.
During the autumn foliage season, the surrounding trees are reflected on the water's surface of the garden's pond, creating a truly enchanting atmosphere with the vivid red leaves mirrored in the water.
Furthermore, when you ascend the hill within the temple grounds, you'll reach 'Mokkyo-no-oka' or the 'Hill of the Distant Capital,' offering breathtaking panoramic views of both the autumn foliage and the cityscape of Kyoto.
Upon entering the temple's main hall, known as the Daihojo, you can see a stunning scene that seems like it has been captured within a framed painting, and enhancing the beauty of the surroundings.
【 Nison-in Temple】The worshipper's path surrounded by autumn leaves feels like an entrance to another world.
The worshipper's path leading from Nison-in Temple's main gate, known as 'Momiji-no-Baba', is the most spectacular highlight of the autumn foliage at Nison-in.
The leaves that blankets both sides of the path creates an amazing sight, and walking through it feels like stepping into a different world.
While the Sagano and Arashiyama regions are renowned for their autumn foliage, the Momiji-no-Baba at Nison-in stands out for its exceptional beauty, making it an ideal spot for photography.
Nison-in Temple also has two important cultural properties designated as National Treasures, the images of Shaka Nyorai and Amida Nyorai.
Recommended Spots in【Kyoto, Rakutou & Higashiyama Area (Eastern)】
【 Eikando Temple】A place you'll definitely want to capture in photos - a history of over a thousand years of autumn foliage spot
The history of Eikando Temple's autumn leaves dates back over a thousand years, with references to it even in the 'Kokin Wakashu,' a poetry anthology compiled over a millennium ago, where it is beautifully portrayed as 'Autumn brings maples to Eikando.'
Eikando boasts around 3,000 trees, creating a picturesque scene of color.
The 'Taho-to', the highest point within the temple grounds, offers an exceptional collaboration between Kyoto's cityscape and the autumn foliage when viewed from its location.
Additionally, the reflection of the surrounding maple and ginkgo trees on the waters of the central Hojo-ike Pond, illuminated at night, presents a captivating sight that will make you want to capture it in photos.
【 Kiyomizu-dera Temple】The scene at the Kiyomizu is totally photogenic! A landscape beauty driven with history and autumn foliage.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple is undoubtedly one of the most famous and popular autumn foliage sight for tourists in Kyoto. It gets famous attractions such as the Kiyomizu Stage and the largest three-story pagoda in Japan, making it a popular spot for photographers during the autumn season.
By changing your perspective, whether looking down from the Kiyomizu Stage or gazing up at the colorful foliage that adorns the entire area makes you more enjoyable moment at Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
When the maples around the three-story pagoda turn red, their colors beautifully complement the tower, creating a stunning ambiance.
Additionally, the sight of the illuminated autumn foliage and Kiyomizu-dera at night is incredibly enchanting, adding a touch of fantasy to the experience.
【 Nanzen-ji Temple】Experience a sense of 'retro-modern' within the expansive temple grounds.
Nanzen-ji Temple, within its vast temple grounds, locates numerous autumn foliage spots. The area around the Suirokaku Aqueduct, which is often used as a location for filming dramas, has become an ideal photography spot.
Nanzen-in, situated at the place of origin of Nanzen-ji, features a pond-style garden created during the Kamakura period. The reflection of the autumn foliage in the pond is truly amazing.
In the Hojo Garden, which is also called 'Tora-no-Ko Watashi,' you can appreciate the beautiful contrast between the red leaves and the white sand.
Don't miss the significant 'Tenjuan'. It boasts two gardens that combined with Nanzen-ji, create a magnificent and harmonious space.
【Shoren-in Monzeki】Creating a sacred world with blue light! The collaboration with autumn leaves is truly a sight to behold.
At Shoren-in Monzeki, you can enjoy various autumn leaves scenes in a dignified atmosphere.
Particularly, the two gardens, the pond-style garden and the Kirishima Garden, are recommended spots for leisurely strolling while enjoying the autumn foliage, both inside the buildings and in the gardens.
Moreover, Shoren-in features a sacred world created by the illumination of blue light, in reference to 'Aofudo Myo-o' enshrined at the temple.
The illuminated moss garden shines like a starry sky, creating a different atmosphere from daytime, enhancing the scenery diven with autumn foliage.
【 Koudai-ji Temple】Highly acclaimed as 'the best in Kyoto!' The autumn colors reflected in the pond creates a mysterious world.
Koudai-ji Temple was constructed by Kitano-mandokoro, Nene, the formal wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, in hopes of praying for her husband's spiritual peace.
The main attraction at Koudai-ji is the bridge, 'Garyu-rou,' designated as a National Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty, where you can enjoy the autumn foliage. The reflection of the leaves on the surface of the 'Garyu-chi' pond is nothing short of breathtaking.
Furthermore, the illuminated autumn foliage at night is famous for particularly stunning in Kyoto, captivating the hearts of those who visit with its mystical beauty.
Koudai-ji temple hosts various events throughout the year, providing a unique and enjoyable experience that sets it apart from other temples in Kyoto!
Recommended Spots in【Kyoto, Rakunan Area (Southern)】
【 To-ji Temple】The combination of the National Treasure, the Five-story Pagoda, and autumn leaves attract tourists with its solemn presence.
To-ji Temple, famous as a National Treasure, has the iconic Five-story Pagoda.
The highlight of autumn here is the collaboration between this solemn pagoda and the autumn foliage.
The vibrant maple leaves that beautifully decollate the pagoda create what can be described literally as 'Kyoto's autumn.'
During the nighttime illumination, the reflection of the scene in the pond forms a magnificent sight, often referred to as 'inverted autumn leaves' or 'inverted Five-story Pagoda.'
Moreover, during the autumn foliage season, a special exhibition is held at the temple's treasure hall, allowing visitors to view National Treasures that are not usually on display.
【 Daigo-ji Temple】The exceptional autumn world presented by the Bentendo Hall.
Daigo-ji Temple has two main areas: 'Kamidaigo' (Upper Daigo) and 'Shimodaigo' (Lower Daigo).
In Shimodaigo, you'll find famous spots like the Bentendo Hall and the Kondo (Golden Hall).
Reaching Kamidaigo requires about an hour's walk through the mountain path, but it's a place where you can enjoy the autumn foliage at a must-visit if you have the time.
The area around the Bentendo Hall is surrounded by the Benten Pond, and have the nighttime illumination of Daigo-ji Temple.
Other attractions include the 'Sanpouin Garden' designed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, making Daigo-ji Temple a place with numerous points of interest as a tourist destination!
【 Bishamon-do Temple】The 'falling maple leaves' turn the landscape into an autumn colored scenery.
Bishamon-do Temple, dedicated to Bishamonten, one of the Seven Lucky Gods.
Despite the abundance of beautiful autumn foliage spots in Kyoto, Bishamon-do tends to have relatively fewer visitors to other places. So it's a hidden spot with a spectacular landscape.
The path leading to the Chokushimon gate at the entrance is covered in vibrant autumn foliage, known for its stunning beauty, even featured in commercials and more!
Once inside the temple grounds, you'll find various autumn foliage spots, including the Bentendo Hall and Bansui-en Garden. What sets Bishamon-do apart is its famous 'scattered maple leaves' after the peak of autumn foliage, allowing you to savor the late autumn atmosphere.
【 Byodoin Temple】In this historic autumn foliage spot, you'll witness a world of 'Pure Land Paradise' before your eyes!
The 'Houodo' at Byodoin Temple is so iconic that it has even appeared on the 10-yen coin, and it was constructed over a thousand years ago to depict the Pure Land Paradise.
The autumn foliage from approximately 200 maple trees surrounding the Houodo is truly breathtaking.
Furthermore, the reflection of the autumn leaves and the Hoodo on the surface of the 'Aji-ike' pond, creates a scene that feels like a glimpse of pure land paradise, allowing you to momentarily forget reality.
During the peak of the autumn foliage season, there is also an illumination event, making it a popular photography and sightseeing spot where many people gather.
In the autumn of Kyoto, you can enjoy autumn foliage in various areas within the city.
However, with many famous spots spread out across the city, it can be a bit challenging to visit them all in a single day.
In this guide, I've introduced 20 recommended autumn colors spots in Kyoto, categorized by area.
Knowing the characteristics and history of each spot can enhance your enjoyment when you visit!
So, when planning your Kyoto sightseeing, be sure to use this guide as a reference♪