Autumn Kansai Travel Guide

Autumn Leaves in Kyoto | Visit Kansai 2024

Kyoto is a heaven of fall foliage in Japan. You will feel it when you take a trip to this oldest city of Japan in autumn. Wondering where to go to see the changing leaves this autumn in Kyoto? Below you will find your dream koyo spots. 

The city is known for its impressive scenery year round. Kyoto is a popular tourist destination in the Kansai region, especially for its temples & shrines, admiring breathtaking natural scenery and experiencing annual festivals such as Gion Matsuri, Jidai Matsuri, hanami, ume and koyo/momiji.

Packed with many festivals year-round, the area is amazing because it has many stunning Buddhist temples & shrines, beautiful Japanese style gardens, tea houses, mountains, ponds, garden bridges and etc.

All these together make Kyoto an outstanding place to hunt for gorgeous fall colors. Besides, every autumn color spot here offers delightful views and plenty of photo-worthy locations.

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Autumn Leaves. Photo Credit: Norio NAKAYAMA at Flickr.

Here, in this article, I am going to highlight a complete guide for tourists who wish to see autumn foliage in this oldest city of Japan. You are also going to see the most beautiful autumn foliage photographs of Kyoto as well.

Before you visit Kyoto in autumn, you should familiar with its top autumn leaves viewing spots. If you are planning to visit Kyoto this autumn and looking for a suggested travel plan, then I would highly recommend you to read this page.

These Kyoto trip ideas will point you in the direction of shimmering yellows, oranges and reds this mid-November to early-December.

When to See Autumn Foliage in Kyoto?

Maple Leaves at Tenryuji Temple. Photo credit: [cipher] at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.
When does fall foliage season arrive in Kyoto? What is the best time to see autumn leaves in Kyoto? The answers are given below:

The fall colors in Kyoto prefecture are at their brightest from mid November to early December. You are highly suggested to embark on a trip to Kyoto at the right time, find the fall foliage forecast here. To witness Kyoto’s mind-boggling autumn nature you have follow the forecast.

If you are fond of traveling a lot, and think yourself as is a nature fanatic, Kyoto is the perfect destination that you must visit. I have been to many places to see colorful autumn foliage across Japan.

According to my travel experience, it’s very hard to choose the best autumn foliage spot. I can not just pick one! Maybe that’s Kyoto in your imagination!

I like to take a hike and it is in my blood, so I always like to explore fall colors in Hokkaido as well as in Tohoku. These two regions in Northern Japan offer endless hiking trails to admire the autumn beauty in the wild.

Please note that you go to Hokkaido and northern part of Tohoku to see earliest autumn leaves between mid September to early November.

Is it Worth a Visit Kyoto in the Fall?

It’s looking so tranquil! Photo Credit: mrhayata at Flickr.

Oh god! You should not even think of this question. Leave it alone.

You will be ashamed of yourself once you experience the autumn beauty in Kyoto. Just stay out of the question and that would be much better for you to concentrate on how to explore its seasonal beauty in the fall.

The more you look at the colorful autumn foliage, the more you get attracted to it! It is 100% worth visiting Kyoto during its autumn season because you are not only going to see the fall folaige there, instead you would be exploring historic landmarks, national treasures, sacred places, traditional Japanese gardens, and picturesque neighborhoods.

In fact, Kyoto boasts some of the most beautiful and famous autumn leaves spots of Japan. For example, you would be overwhelmed seeing the impressive fall foliage at Tofuku-ji temple and the colorful mountain slopes in Arashiyama.

The Best Places to View Autumn Leaves in Kyoto

Colorful Autumn Foliage in Kyoto. Photo credit: marufish at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

1) Kodai-ji Temple: A perfect spot and one of the best autumn leaves viewing spots is Kodai-ji temple. Walk through the walking trails and enjoy the utmost beauty of autumn colors. (Late November to early December)

2) Arashiyama: It is a beautiful district of Kyoto that offers you several beautiful Zen Buddhist temples to visit. These temples have maple tree gardens to please you in autumn. (Late November to early December)

3) Takao: It is a mountainous area with three famous temples. This is place has been recognized as one of the most popular autumn leaves viewing spots in all over Japan. (Mid November)

4) Tofuku-ji Temple: Enjoy the autumn foliage beauty from the famous Tsutenkyo bride and Hojo garden. (Mid to late November)

Takao’s Autumn Nature! Photo credit: Marufish at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

5) Kitano Tenmangu Shrine: It is one of the most famous shrine in Kyoto, Kansai region which offers spectacular view of autumn leaves during fall season. I think about 250 colorful maple trees could make you happy to be there. (Late November to early December)

6) Nanzenji Temple: Nanzenji Temple makes me happy whenever I get there, it does not matter whether I go there in Autumn or spring. I think you will feel the same. You are welcome if you wish to see autumn color in the evening time. (Late November to early December)

7) Shisen-do Temple: It is a residence of an Edo period samurai that turned into Buddhist temple after his death. It is a highly recommended place for seeing fall foliage. (Late November)

Nanzenji Temple Autumn Foliage, Kyoto. Photo credit: hyougushi at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

8) Enko-ji Temple: A lovely place to have a day tour with all family members during autumn season. (Mid to late November)

9) Sanzen-in Temple, Ohara: You could comfortably reply on this spot. Everything looks marvelous and clean in autumn. (Mid November)

10) Kurama and Kibune: These are the most popular hiking destinations in Kyoto with many maple trees around them. (Mid November)

In order to get more information about the best autumn leaves of Kyoto in details then please visit this recommended article. You will find colorful pictures as well as the address of every spots you wish to go.

Experiencing A Historic Zen Buddhist Temple While Seeing Autumn Leaves

Vividly colored autumn leaves in Tofuku-ji, Kyoto. Photo Credit: mrhayata at Flickr.

When we use the word “Historic” – it means something  special like a treasure. There is a historic zen Buddhist temple in southeastern part of Kyoto called Tofuku-ji temple. So far, I have visited this famous Japanese temple only twice in my entire life.

Does that sound interesting to you? Or do you think I should have visited this place more often? Well, the first time I had visited this temple was in the Autumn. I knew about the place from a friend of mine who resides in Kyoto city. He invited me to visit this temple with him. It was an amazing experience, no doubt about that.

I was impressed seeing beautiful autumn leaves from Tsutenkyo Bridge, that is considered to be the best spot for viewing autumn foliage. It gets crowded with a lot of nature lovers! The deciduous trees that you see on the temple’s grounds display the vivid fall colors breathtakingly.

When all the trees reach to their peak, it becomes one of the most peaceful places on earth. That is not a joke but the truth! It has several gardens inside the temple’s boundary. Four things you must see in Tofukuji are: The Sanmon Gate, Kaisando Hall, Hojo Garden and the Mystic Autumn Foliage.

A great way to see the area’s fall foliage is to take a leisurely walk along the trails of the temple. Are you ready to take this challenge?

Things to Do in Kyoto in Autumn

Fall foliage in Arashiyama. Photo Credit: Norio NAKAYAMA at Flickr through creative commons licensing.

It is certain that you are in Kyoto because you want to experience its autumn colors including its historic temples and shrines. So, try to visit as many as fall foliage spots you can which are well known for their breathtaking fall foliage.

Stay overnight in a ryokan and take a bath in a hot spring to relax your mind and body.

When you are out for sightseeing in the city, make sure that you pick up a Kyoto City bus pass.

Kyoto is renowned for featuring beautiful temples & shrines along with beautiful traditional Japanese gardens. And they feature unique style of seasonal beauty. Therefore, make sure you pay a visit to most of the famous temples and shrines.

While visiting shrines and temples in Kyoto, try to put some coins in the donation boxes.

You should try the traditional food at local restaurants and from food vendors.

When you are in Arashiyama, please visit its bamboo grove. It will give you much pleasure, and the atmosphere there is so tranquil.

You can meet with geisha or at least you could see them in Gion district. It will surly be a great experience for you.

Autumn in Japan brings a cool atmosphere. So, wear light a jacket or sweater to keep you warm.

Where to Stay in Kyoto?

How Colorful! Kyoto’s Autumn Nature. Photo credit: marufish at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

Historically, Kyoto is renowned for its ryokan. There are so many popular ryokan operate their business throughout Kyoto. You can learn some important ryokan customs before you decide to stay one of these.

It is a traditional Japanese style inn that gives you the real Japanese living atmosphere. Apart from this, you could stay in various hotels, hostels, apartments and guest houses, especially located nearby Kyoto Station.

Check out here to find some good hotel deals in Kyoto and make reservation at once. You find many hotel deals online but not every hotel could satisfy you with their services.

So, I recommend you to read several hotel reviews in order to get useful information. I know you must be thinking about the following questions:

1. Where should I stay in Kyoto?

2. Can I get cheap hotel there?

3. Is ryokan perfect for me to stay?

4. Can I stay in an apartment for a night?

However, finding cheap hotel or apartment is not a daunting task in Kyoto. For a better accommodation deal, you are advised to make a reservation in advance. 

Apartments in the area are perfect for couples and families, especially Machiya, traditional wooden townhouses of Kyoto. 

Hotel MyStays Kyoto-Shijo is the cheapest hotel to stay in the heart of Kyoto. I stayed few nights there, everything was great. In autumn, Kyoto gets crowded, so you know what to do! Make your hotel reservation in advance and stay safe and hassle free.

Getting Around Kyoto

Kyoto is really breathtaking when autumn rolls around. Photo Credit: Marufish at Flickr.

It’s not a daunting task to access to Kyoto from Tokyo as these two cities are connected with each other by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen.

Three types of trains on the Tokaido Shinkansen line are the Nozomi, Hikari, and Kodama. Which one is the fastest train anyway? The answer is the Nozomi train! It’s fast and very frequent than the other two trains.

As a foreign visitor, you might consider buying a JR Pass, but it is always a great to have a Kansai Area Pass. It is awesome! It lets you grab all the special offers and discount for those who wish to explore Kansai Region’s top attractions.

It is possible to visit most of the Koyo spots by buses, trains, subways, cars and bicycle. Though my advice to you is, you better don’t think of relying on taxi, they are quite expensive than other available options. Y

ou can rent a bicycle and reach to some awesome fall colors spots in Kyoto city. Before you do it, make sure you are familiar with the traffic rules for bicycling around the city.

Getting a map of Kyoto city, you can easily understand the distance of every koyo spots. There are some very useful apps to install on your smartphone to locate the areas you wish to go!

Depending on this, you have to choose which transport would work best for you. Here, you can get a Kyoto city map.

In addition, many inbound Japan tour agencies and city bus operators offer various day tour packages. They could be very effective and less expensive, especially for the very first time visitors to Kyoto.

Last year in the autumn, a friend of mine took 1-Day Kyoto & Nara tour package from Osaka. He said, it was just well organized and he was happy to take the service.

Kyoto Travel Guide Information

A Beautiful Autumn Leaves Photo, Kyoto. Photo credit: Marufish at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

Kyoto is a year-round place to discover in Japan. If you are new to this city, I must suggest you to find as much as travel information you could, so that your trip to Kyoto will be unforgettable. Here, I want to share few links that will help you to have a perfect holiday in Kyoto during autumn.

Kyoto Visitors Guide

Kyoto Travel Map

Useful Travel Guide for Kyoto Visitors

Kyoto Hotel Deals

Top Places to View Autumn Leaves in Kyoto

I hope this article helps you to get some travel information on your Kyoto autumn trip. I would be happy if this page inspire you to travel to Kyoto in the future. Have a nice trip to Kyoto, and all the best!