When it comes to Kyoto, what comes to mind to most travelers are places such as Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Kamogawa River. However, besides these well-known classic attractions, Kyoto also has many attractions that are suited for travelers who are visiting Kyoto for the second time, or travelers who like to explore the depths of the city’s outskirts. This time around, we will introduce you to some tourist attractions to check-in to over the four seasons in the southern part of Kyoto, which is renowned for being the “Kyoto Tea Country.”
Table of Contents
Spring: March to May
● Gansen-ji Temple (Kizugawa City)
As an antique Buddhist temple with a history of around 1200 years, Gansen-ji Temple is home to many important cultural properties such as its seated statue of Amida Nyorai, its statue of Fugen Bosatsu on an elephant, and its three-story pagoda. It is a Buddhist temple that is full of history and natural essence. This time around, the tourist attraction that we recommend you to check-in to on Instagram is the three-story pagoda.
The three-story pagoda surrounded by luxuriant gardens is a hot spot for tourists to check-in and take pictures when visiting Gansen-ji Temple. When taking pictures, we suggest that you to use the flowers and trees as the foreground to capture the beauty of the three-story pagoda surrounded by the colors of spring.
By changing the angle of your camera, you can also photograph the pine trees with the small ponds inside the courtyard to reveal another color of Japan.
Gansen-ji Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Kamo-cho, part of Kizugawa City in the southernmost part of Kyoto Prefecture. Thought to have been built in 729, the name “Gansen-ji” translat …
● Takayama Dam (Minamiyamashiro Village)
Ever since its management was taken over in 1970, Takayama Dam has mainly been used to control floods, to supply tap water, and to utilize water sources to generate electricity.
From the office, Takayama Dam Lake Park, filled with all its greenery, is stretched out as far as the eye can see. With the many cherry blossom trees planted there, the park also becomes a holy land for viewing cherry blossoms each April.
Visitors may as well bring a blanket and refreshments to have a picnic under the park filled with cherry blossom trees. There, they can enjoy the sight of a world of pink splendor as far as the eye can see.
In addition to checking-in and photographing the vast world of pink splendor, we also recommend you to take and post beautiful shots of yourself gently holding a fully bloomed double cherry blossom in your hands!
● Shoju-in Temple (Ujitawara town)
For Japanese people, “wind chimes” are a completely indispensable part of summer. In southern Kyoto, there is even a place where you can enjoy a festival of wind chimes in the summertime. Every year from June to mid-September, Shoju-in Temple holds its annual “Wind Chime Festival” where colorful wind chimes that match the blue sky let out a crisp ringing sound that continually echoes throughout the courtyard. This is the representative feature of Shoju-in Temple during the summer, which has also given it the nickname “the temple of wind chimes.
The most special aspect about the Wind Chime Festival at Shoju-in Temple is that in the courtyard, there are “flower wind chimes” with sunflowers and hydrangeas embedded inside of them. When the wind blows, the wind chimes gently sway and jingle along, making it seem as though the scorching summer is being carried away quietly by the melodious sound of ringing.
Shoju-in Temple also has a reception hall known as “Sokuten no Ma,” which is a popular tourist spot to check-in to. Within the reception hall, the two main points of interest are the “Inome (boar eye) window” and the “ceiling paintings.” The colorful ceiling paintings were completed jointly by a number of painters in Japan in 2017, as a recreation of the 300 year-old paintings from the ceiling of the main hall. Among these paintings, the most special one is that of “maiko over the four seasons,” which very much embodies the essence of Kyoto.
The “boar eye” is a form of architectural adornment that has been used to decorate the courtyards of shrines and temples since about 1400 years ago. Windows that are decorated with this adornment are known as “boar eye windows.” Such windows take the lovely shape of a heart that seems to signify a moral of “avoiding and dispelling calamities, while simultaneously inviting happiness.” With each season, different moving sceneries can be photographed through the temple’s boar eye window. The dim lights also form a contrast with the emerald green vegetation outside the window, which has a peaceful beauty of Japan.
Located in Ujitawara in Kyoto, Shoju-in Temple was built around 800 years ago, and belongs to the Koyasan Shingonshu sect of Buddhism. According to records, during the Sengoku (1467-1615) and Edo peri …
● Mimuroto-ji Temple (Uji City)
When asking the people of Kyoto where hydrangeas are the most beautiful in summer, the answer you would surely get is “Mimuroto-ji Temple.” At Mimuroto-ji Temple, there are hydrangeas that can be seen on a seasonal basis each year from early June to mid-July.
The temple has 20,000 hydrangeas in its courtyard and is situated between cedar trees. This makes it seem as though you have entered another world of fairy tales when visiting, and allows you to feel the wonder of nature with all five senses.
Seeing the billowing hydrangea blossoms will bring much healing! When taking pictures, other than using the usual angles, we also recommend you to use the hydrangeas as the foreground, and to couple them with the cedar trees on the horizon to enhance the sense of space in your pictures!
As rain drizzles softly onto the courtyard, umbrellas are held up by the crowd, which adds a lot of color to the hydrangea garden. The colorful umbrellas alongside the blooming hydrangeas are not dissonant with one another, but are actually harmonious and playful!
If you are lucky enough to enter the park in the evening, you will be able to take pictures of the sky colored purple by the setting sun, in combination with the hydrangeas.
Mimuroto-ji Temple is known for its spectacular gardens, and it is sometimes called the “Temple of Flowers.” Mimuroto-ji is located in Uji City, part of Kyoto’s tea-producing region in the south of Ky …
● Keihanna Commemorative Park (Seika town)
This is a park where you can enjoy walks in the forest and see various plants all year round. On this occasion, we would like to recommend the park’s beautiful view of maple leaves in autumn. In addition, the park will also be open for night visits during the autumn leaf season. (Event period: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Japanese national holidays between early November and late November)
A warm tone of orange embellishes the maple trees by the pond, and a ray of sunlight shines in through the gaps between them, driving away the chill of the autumn breeze. In the park full of maple trees, you can see a tunnel of autumn leaves formed by the maple trees, which arguably makes the entire park a scenic spot to check-in and take pictures.
In addition to the maple tree tunnel, we also highly recommend you to check-in and photograph the scenery by using the maple trees as a frame in your pictures!
Keihanna Commemorative Park is 24.1 hectares in size, and commemorates the establishment of Keihanna Science City (Kansai Culture and Science Research City) in 1995. The park includes both freely acce …
● Taisho-ike Green Park (Ide town)
Surrounded by nature, Taisho-ike Green Park is a good place for locals to do outdoor activities and camping. Once it becomes autumn, you can also enjoy the scenery of maple leaves.
At a corner of Taisho-ike Pond, there is pavilion-like spot where you can rest, known as the “Ukimido.” If you wish to take pictures of the maple leaves around the mountain and the beautiful lakeside scenery, you might as well stand on the walkway that leads to the pavilion and ask a friend to press the shutter. That way you will be able to capture the stunning nature in photographs.
The maple trees surrounding the lake gradually turn red in autumn, and their reflection in the shimmering lake holds a quiet kind of beauty.
● Kasagi’s Sea of Clouds (Kasagi town)
The roaring Sea of Clouds surge amidst the mountains covered in greenery, which makes you feel as if you are in a fairyland, while cleansing your spirit at the same time. Such a stunning view can also be seen at Mount Kasagi in Kyoto.
The period spanning from mid-October to March of the following year is the best time to see Kasagi’s Sea of Clouds. The vast view of mountains alongside the endlessly flowing Sea of Clouds is one of the go-to attractions of many avid Japanese photographers in the local area.
As the color of the sky varies depending on the weather of the day, a fuchsia colored landscape may also be photographed occasionally.
Mt. Kasagi in Kasagi rises 288 meters about the south bank of the Kizu River. It is home to many strange and mysterious rock formations giving it the nickname “Megalith Theme Park” and is designated a …
● Aodani Plum Grove (Joyo City)
Aodani Plum Grove harbors the “hometown of Kyoto’s plums” and is the largest region to produce plums in Kyoto.
From late February to mid-March, Aodani Plum Grove holds its annual “Plum Festival.”
The festival lasts for three weeks and attracts more than 20,000 people each year. During the event, visitors can also purchase dried plums and other pickled plum products that are made from the plum gardens in the Aodani region.
The Joyo specialty “Joshuhaku” white plums, along with the scattered red plum blossoms form a view that resembles a painting with carefully matched tones. This makes it a very suitable check-in spot for taking pictures.
“Joshuhaku” is a variety of plum that has small seeds but a full and abundant flesh. At its largest, the plum can grow bigger than a golf ball and is considered to be very suitable for making plum wine and dried plums.
Having existed for 800 years, the Plum Grove has a considerably long history. The plums produced there are sometimes made into dyes, and sometimes made into stockpile dried plums. In addition to this, they can also be made into plum extract supplies.
Commanding a distant view of the holy mountain Jubo, the Aodani Plum Grove spreads out over the gently sloping hills bordering the crystalline Aodani River. The 20-hectare plum grove has been reknowne …
● Ishitera Tea Field (Wazuka town)
This is a well-known tea field in Kyoto that is designated as a scenic asset by Kyoto Prefecture, and is selected as one of Japan’s national heritages. In addition to visiting Uji, those who like green tea might as well make a trip to the tea field to personally experience a different journey with tea.
The lush green tea field that stretches as far as the eye can see, complemented with the blue sky, puts the heart at ease. In late April, you can even catch a glimpse of farmers picking tea leaves!
On one side of the tea field, there is a coffee shop named “dan dan cafë” (ダンダンカフェ). There, you can enjoy a Japanese-style green tea sundae, while gazing over the vast tea field. This makes it an ideal scenic spot to check-in to online for those who are green tea enthusiasts!
In addition, when making your way to dan dan cafë from Wazuka takahashi Bus Stop in the springtime, you can also see the beautiful scenery of cherry blossoms intertwined with the tea field. The cherry blossoms in full bloom, coupled with the emerald green tea field, carry a faint touch of Japan’s “serene beauty,” and allows you to deeply experience the beauty of Kyoto’s tea.
These tea fields, known as the first scenic property designated by Kyoto Prefecture, are also registered as a Japanese heritage site. The tea fields spread out across the steep hillside, in a sight yo …
● Byodoin Temple (Uji City)
At Byodoin Temple, you can enjoy “cherry blossoms in spring, green leaves in summer, maple in autumn, and snow in winter.” However, in recent years, the temple has had less snow fall in winter, which means that you will have to leave it to luck if you wish to catch a snowy view of Byodoin Temple! If you happen to encounter snow there, don’t forget to take plenty of pictures to record this rare scene.
The clear pond, like a mirror, reflects the magnificent Phoenix Hall on its surface, which creates a symmetrical image that is beautiful and picturesque. The pink weeping cherry blossoms on the side also add a touch of color to the Phoenix Hall at the center of the scene.
In addition, the vermilion Phoenix Hall, complemented by maple leaves of the same color, give Byodoin Temple a different atmosphere in autumn. It’s very pleasant to walk along the stone pavement on the side, and enjoy the view of the red maple surrounding the Phoenix Hall.
Byodo-in Temple, which shows the historical glory of the Fujiwara clan, was once a villa on the west bank of the Uji-gawa River. It belonged to Minamoto no Toru but was given to Fujiwara no Michinaga. …