Japan’s cherry blossoms are famous the world over, but the fall foliage in Kyoto is perhaps even more beautiful. Here’s our guide, Carla from Madrid (Spain), longtime resident in Japan, on how to see the Autumn Colors in Kyoto at its best. But not only!
The leaves start changing in Kyoto sometime in October. The peak of fall foliage usually comes in mid-November, and you can usually see colors on the trees until mid-December. Thus, in an average year, the foliage season in Kyoto lasts from 15 October to 15 December, with a peak around 15 November.
Keep in mind that you can travel a bit in or near Kyoto to find good colors if you miss the peak in the center of the city. If you arrive too early, you can head up into the Kitayama Mountains to find trees that are already wearing their fall colors. Likewise, if you come too late, you can head to the south, to Uji, or even Nara, to see trees at their peak color.
If you’d like to enjoy the colors without the crowds, try one of these spots:
Shinyodo Temple: The grounds of this superb temple contain several huge maple trees, as well as some fine gingko trees that turn bright yellow in October and November. Sure, some people come here, but not nearly as many as visit the nearby big-name temples.
The Kyoto Gyoen (Imperial Palace Park): This place is huge, so no matter how many people show up to enjoy the colors, it won’t feel crowded.
Kurama-dera Temple: You can enjoy the fall colors from the train as you approach the mountain village of Kurama. Once there, you can walk through lovely forests to reach the mountainside temple. The colors here are usually lovely.
Daitoku-ji: The subtemples here have some wonderful maple trees within their walls and some of them do special openings to coincide with foliage season.