Autumn in Kyoto is spectacular. Bright autumn leaves flutter around the city, and with the many temples to visit and other things to do in Kyoto, there’s always something to appreciate. It is the best place to experience autumn in Japan. From Arashiyama to Jojakko-ji, to the Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto has so many places to appreciate momiji.
Autumn in Japan might just be the best time of year. With mild temperatures, beautiful blue skies, and colorful foliage, it’s the best time to make the most of the outside.
When can I see autumn leaves in Kyoto?
Alongside seeing sakura, seeing the autumn leaves is one of the most popular things to do in Kyoto.
Autumn in Japan is usually October to early December. The peak momiji viewing during autumn in Kyoto is usually around mid-November lasting until early December.
This year, however, the peak time for fall foliage is predicted to be a bit later with the rising temperatures. This autumn in Kyoto, the peak momiji viewing is expected to fall in late November this year, lasting until early December.
Arashiyama can get pretty crowded during autumn, and for a good reason too! The sight of the red autumn leaves blending in with all the other foliage on the mountains has to be one of the most spectacular highlights of autumn in Japan.
When you arrive at the station you can expect fairly large crowds crossing the Togetsu-kyo Bridge, where you can view the Arashiyama Mountain. One of the many peaceful things to do in Kyoto is renting a rowing boat here, it’s a very serene way to take in the colors of the mountains. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, it shouldn’t be too hard to escape the crowds by wandering away from the main streets and the bamboo forest though!
The Sagano romantic train is one of our favorite things to do in Kyoto, regardless of the season, but with the radiant autumn leaves it is truly spectacular. This steam train is a great activity for any family looking to enjoy autumn in Kyoto.
It can be difficult to book tickets online in advance if you are in a group and want to make sure that you sit together. It’s best to visit the station early and purchase your tickets for later on since the train can fill up easily.
2. Philosopher’s Path Kyoto
Following a canal lined with maple trees draping over the water, you will find the Philosopher’s Path Kyoto. The Philosopher’s Path Kyoto is approximately a 1.5-kilometer walk from Wakaoji Shrine to Ginkaku-ji Temple. It’s a lovely little stroll where you can enjoy the deep colors of the autumn leaves reflected in the water.
The Philosopher’s Path Kyoto is close to various temples, including Eikando Temple, Nanzen-ji, and Honen-in, which are all popular spots to enjoy the fall foliage, so it’s easy to combine a visit with a trip down the Philosopher’s Path.
3. Tofukuji Temple
A trip to Tofukuji Temple is one of the many recommended things to do in Kyoto in any season, let alone when the grounds are filled with vibrant red Japanese maple tree leaves. The autumn leaves normally peak from mid-November to early December.
The Zen temple is located in the South-East of the city. The temple is famous for Honbo Garden, a beautiful Zen garden. The vast Japanese garden on the temple grounds includes the Tsutenkyo Bridge, a 100-meter-long that connects two halls. The bridge is one of the most popular leaf viewing spots in Kyoto.
4. Eikando Temple (Eikando Zenriji Temple)
Eikando Temple is a Buddhist temple close to the Philosopher’s Path. Eikando Temple reaches peak momiji season slightly earlier than other Kyoto spots, usually mid-November to late November.
The temple is home to a large variety of maple trees (over 3000) and an abundance of other trees with lovely autumn foliage. The colorful leaves are illuminated at night, making an impressive display. It’s one of the most picturesque places to take enjoy autumn in Japan at night.
5. Nanzenji Temple
Another beautiful Zen temple close to the Philosopher’s Path is Nanzenji Temple. It’s located at the base of the Higashiyama mountains, to the east of the city.
Around the temple grounds, you’ll find the Tenjuan Temple, which features a rock garden and pond garden that look beautiful surrounded by autumn colors. Nanzenin Temple is another temple found on the grounds with a gorgeous autumnal garden. Nearby, you’ll also find a surprisingly large brick aqueduct.
With multiple gardens, the Nanzenji Temple has a variety of fall colors, it’s a lovely place to enjoy autumn in Kyoto.
Japanese zen garden
Kyoto is filled with colorful autumn leaves wherever you go. These are some of the most popular spots and we love them for good reasons! We also recommend spending time taking strolls around the city and in the mountains, you’ll be sure to come across a lot of other beautiful temples and vibrant colors.