Autumn Kansai Travel Guide

10 Best Places to See Autumn Leaves in Kyoto

Planning your fall foliage trip to Kyoto? These 10 destinations are famous for their stunning fall colors and come alive with red, yellow and orange leaves for at least a month each fall.

Kyoto, the ancient city of Japan is breathtakingly colorful, especially in the fall. Here in this post, you will discover the best recommended autumn leaves viewing spots that you can visit during autumn.

These stunning fall foliage viewing spots could reveal another part of beautiful Kyoto for sure! I could gladly recommend you more than 10 best places to view autumn leaves here in Kyoto but our time is limited.

So it is better to highlight only the top 10 spots that are famous and worth a visit. Besides, to discover old Japan and the traditions one must come to Kyoto. And if someone decides to go there in autumn then there is nothing to say but “Well Done & Thank You“.

Toji Temple’s Five-storied Pagoda. Photo Credit: _steffen at Flickr.

Kyoto itself is a very renowned place for celebrating a list of popular annual festivals and events. The koyo season here can be experienced from mid November through early December. Needless to say that fall is an ideal time to explore Kyoto’s beautiful outdoors nature.

Its incredible autumn views of stunningly vibrant landscapes may decide you not to leave this place ever. Want to know about Koyo? Read this article then.

1) Kodai-ji Temple:

Beautiful Autumn Foliage at Kodaiji Temple in Kyoto. Photo credit: Norio Nakayama at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

First of all, I would like to introduce you the most popular autumn leaves viewing spot of Kyoto. Built in 1606 by the wife of legend Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Kodai-ji is a place of scenic beauty.

The beautiful surroundings of this temple would amaze you with its variety of trees that includes maple, ginkgo, cherry and other native Japanese trees.

As your mission is to hunt for Kyoto’s autumn foliage, you better find those colorful maple trees there. They look very impressive as fall rolls round here.

The temple comprises a beautiful zen garden, rock garden and tsukiyama style garden. Wow! A single trip to this beautiful temple reveal three types of impressive Japanese gardens. It sounds like a very cool and tranquil place to visit!

Besides, there is a beautiful ginkgo tree on the ground of Kodai-ji rock garden, don’t miss its view. You will also experience autumn colors at night since in the evening maple trees are lit up magnificently. When you visit this spot, just don’t forget to visit the bamboo grove here.

Address: Kodai-ji Zen Temple
526 Shimogawara-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto Prefecture,605-0825 Japan

 2) Arashiyama:

Jojakko-ji Temple autumn leaves, Arashiyama. Photo Credit: 歲月之歌 at Flickr.

Arashiyama is a well known tourist district of Kyoto. Here, nature offers you everything from viewing stunning cherry blossoms in the spring to hunting momiji in the fall. Visitors love exploring the area, especially during hanami and autumn leaves seasons.

This interesting landmark in Kyoto has Togetsukyo Bridge, Gioji Temple, Katsura River, Jojakkoji Temple, Nisonin Temple, Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple, Tenryuji Temple and a beautiful green bamboo grove. Please note the area is packed with a lot of tourists during spring and autumn.

Sightseeing boat tour is offered to visitors when they set off their journey to explore Katsura river fall foliage. In addition, there is also a sightseeing train line called “Saga Scenic Railway” that usually runs along the Hozugawa River between Arashiyama and Kameoka.

This amazing train ride will let you to view colorful autumn leaves when you look outside of mountain slopes from train window. Arashiyama is without question one of the most picturesque autumn destinations in Kyoto.

Address: Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.
Tel. +81 75-222-4130

3) Takao:

Jingoji temple autumn foliage, Takao. Photo Credit: Yuki Shimazu at Flickr.

Takao is a forested valley and mountainous area with historic temples such as Kozanji Temple (A UNESCO World Heritage Site), Jingoji Temple, and Simyoji Temple.

Autumn colors around these temples could give you the endless joy. To see spectacular view of autumn leaves in Takao, you will have to visit these sacred temples.

Mid November is the best time to see autumn foliage here; and temples’ compounds are packed with many tourists who aim to enjoy a lovely autumn day. Reaching Takao is very easy once you know its route.

You can just take a JR bus from Kyoto Station or Kyoto city bus (number 8) that departs from Shijo Karasuma, and then you will reach there in an hour (50 minutes).

4) Tofuku-ji Temple:

Autumn Colored Forested Valley at Tofukuji Temple. Photo credit: mrhayata at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

Tofuku-ji temple is arguably one of the best leaf-peeping spots in Kyoto. It is a large Zen Buddhist temple with some beautiful Japanese style gardens, and bridges.

If you have not visited any rock garden yet in your life, then you should head towards this stunning nature arena.

When you take a trip to this temple, you would be experiencing endless discoveries. My trip to this temple was full of mystery. I felt such when I got there for the first time in my life with my parents.

I witnessed the color of autumn and thought it would not been bad to have autumn season all year round. Fall foliage here is simply awesome, in fact unforgettable.

The Tsutenkyo Bridge and Hojo Garden are the perfect viewpoints to admire the beauty of colorful maple leaves.

Address: 15 Hon-machi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.

5) Kitano Tenmangu Shrine:

Kitano Tenmangu Autumn Colors, Kyoto. Photo credit: Marufish at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

The best time to explore autumn color here is from late November to Early December. There are more than 250 Japanese maple trees you could see.

The shrine is open for all, and in every autumn season the shrine authority allows public to enter in the maple tree garden.

Take a walk along the walking trails to admire the beautiful surroundings. And I believe, that would be much more interesting to walk if you got a company than walking alone.

On the grounds, you will be witnessing millions of fallen colored autumn leaves. You don’t fall down like the autumn leaves while walking in the garden.

Keep your eyes open and that’s it! Typically, this place is very famous in the early spring when plum blossom festival takes place.

Address: Bakurocho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 602-8386, Japan.
Tel. +81 75-461-0005

6) Shisen-do Temple:

Shisen-do Temple Autumn Colors, Kyoto. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Shisen-do temple is also known as Jozan-ji Temple. That is an official name, but most of the people here in japan know it as Shisen-do Temple.

It was the residence of Edo-period samurai Jozan Ishikawa (1583-1672). He was the one who designed the whole temple garden.

Whether you believe it or not this is an amazing masterpiece of Japanese arts. Here, it is simply awesome to view the fall colors beauty. In fact, the last time I visited it I was stunned! The temple transform into a new look when its deciduous maple trees change their colors.

I see this place as one of the best autumn foliage spots in Kyoto. Don’t you ever try to kill your whole Kyoto autumn trip by skipping this beautiful Japanese landmark.

Address: 27 Ichijoji Monguchicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8154, Japan.
Tel. +81 75-781-2954

7) Enko-ji Temple:

Enko-ji temple’s impressive fall colors. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Arriving here in late November, one can enjoy the sparkle of maple leaves. Most of the Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto has maple tree garden, so this one is no different from others.

Not many foreign travelers know this place very well, so I would like to ask you a question: Are you going to explore it?

Built in the Edo Period by Tokugawa Ieyasu, Enjkoji temple is simply one of the best if places around Kyoto when it comes to experiencing fall foliage in a tranquil place. Please visit this temple and let your eyes staring at the colorful maple trees you find around.

It is a kind of hidden autumn leaves viewing spot in Kyoto but since I have shown you this place featuring it here, I think you better plan on visiting it. I promise you nothing bad you would experience there but the pleasure!

Address: 13 Ichijoji Kotanicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8147, Japan.

8) Sanzen-in Temple, Ohara:

Sanzenin temple grounds in fall, Ohara, Kyoto. Photo Credit: m-louis .® at Flickr.

Ohara is a rural village, situated in northern part of Kyoto.

This beautiful temple has Japanese style gardens, temple halls, moss garden, maple & ceder tree garden, walking paths, ponds, a statue of Amida Buddha, rows of miniature statues of Kannon, restaurants, and shops.

Now you choose what to eat, what to buy and what to see first. This tranquil place is often known as the best place to take a stroll in the fall in Kyoto.

If you don’t want to miss the Kyoto’s spectacular autumn nature, you should arrive here before the end of mid November.

Address: 540 Ohara Raikoin-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 601-1242, Japan.

9) Nanzenji Temple: 

Beautiful Autumn Foliage Landscape at Nanzenji Temple. Photo credit: Hideyuki KAMON at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.

In order to view night autumn beauty, you have got to come here. Maple trees are lit up with lights as a result it creates an amazing place to stay and enjoy for a long time in the evening.

There is no access fee to enter the main temple grounds of Nanzenji, but in order to visit sub temples you have to pay separate amount of fees .

There is a beautiful pond garden at Nanzenin temple (A sub temple of Nanzenji Temple) which is a perfect location for taking picture of yours.

In addition, enjoy the natural beauty of the Hojo rock garden and Tenjuan’s rock garden during the autumn. Everything here sounds pretty wonderful, peaceful, silent and relaxing. Who wanna miss this?!

Address: Nanzenji-Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.
Tel. 075-771-0365

10) Eikando Temple

The Tahoto Pagoda at Eikando Temple, Kyoto. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr.

The beautiful temple, Eikando (formerly known as Zenrinji Temple) is situated just north of the large temple complex of Nanzenji. It is said to be one of the scenic and popular koyo spots to visit in Kyoto any time of the year.

Visiting this temple in autumn means you will be delighted seeing the magnificent colors of fall. I think a leaf peeping trip to Kyoto is not complete without a visit to Eikando. Have you got it?

The temple has a long rich history and consists of various buildings, a pond garden (Hojo pond), and Tahoto Pagoda, including the impressive Eikando main hall. Bear in mind, the temple belongs to the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism.

You can take a walk up to the Tahoto Pagoda in order to see the temple grounds blossomed with maple leaves. It is quite an impressive view that I don’t miss from the pagoda.

On the other hand, the Hojo pond is decorated with evening illumination, thus how it creates a great autumn atmosphere that one can enjoy even at night time. Colors reach their peak in early December.

You have discovered the 10 most popular places to see autumn leaves in Kyoto. Now, it is your turn to discover them in real life. I did it myself already. Well, if you have not got a Kyoto travel map and a guide then get them soon before you arrive here.

If you are first time visitor to Japan, read this useful article. Don’t wait anymore, start planning your trip right away to have a great adventure! I wish you have a wonderful autumn vacation in Kyoto. Thanks a lot.


  1. Raquel de Leon

    My family of six is planning this year’s fall season. The recommended places here are so beautiful. I was wondering if we should join a tour group or do it on our own. In tour group you cover a lot but limited time to stay in one place. On our own we stay and relax in one place if we want to. But we need guidance on how to go about it efficiently.

  2. That is so cool. I love the relaxing view of Nanzenji Temple. The water and the autumn trees!

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