Autumn is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful times to visit Kyoto. As the leaves change colour, they transform the landscape into an enchanting patchwork of crimson, orange, and gold that will take your breath away.
Our Kyoto autumn foliage calendar shows you the best dates to view fall leaves in different places in the prefecture. To make your experience extra special, we recommend choosing a lesser-known location outside of Kyoto City. That way, you can avoid the crowds and immerse yourself in the region’s stunning natural beauty.
Here are eight of the most peaceful and photogenic spots to enjoy Kyoto’s fall foliage.
Located high on the mountainside, Nariai-ji Temple overlooks the Amanohashidate sandbar. A thin strip of green pine trees and white sand, it ranks among the three most scenic places in all of Japan. In addition to this gorgeous view, the temple has expansive grounds to explore, including a pond and bell tower. Perhaps its most striking feature is the soaring five-story pagoda. The sight of it surrounded by blazing red and yellow autumn leaves with the blue water of Miyazu Bay in the background is a quintessential image of Kyoto in the fall.
Nariai-ji Temple is located on a mountainside overlooking Amanohashidate” which is considered one of the three most scenic spots in Japan. There is an endless line of visitors to the temple, as it is …
You’ll find the Omoto Headquarters on the banks of the tranquil Yura River, just a 15-minute walk from Ayabe Station. Also known as Baisho-en, the grounds contain several beautiful halls with space dedicated to traditional Japanese arts such as aikido and Noh theatre. What’s more, the surrounding Kinryukai garden is one of the best spots to enjoy Kyoto fall foliage. It’s filled with maple trees that turn vibrant shades of fiery scarlet and rich maroon, carpeting the ground with their distinctive palmate leaves.
Omoto Headquarters (Ayabe/Baishoen)
Oomoto Baisho-en is located along the banks of the Yura River that runs through Ayabe City in the Woodland Kyoto. It is the home of the religious organization “Omoto Baisho-en” and was opened in 1892. …
Hiking is an unbeatable Kyoto autumn activity, and the Hozukyo Gorge is one of the most pleasant locations for a fall stroll. It stretches from the Hozu Bridge in Kameoka City to Arashiyama’s iconic Togetsu-kyo Bridge, following the Hozugawa River as it carves a narrow channel between the mountains. For a truly unforgettable experience, take a thrilling two-hour boat ride along the rapids. As the boatsmen navigate the rocks and pools, you can admire the fabulous collage of red, orange, and yellow trees dotting the hillsides.
The Hozukyo Gorge, which stretches from the Hozu Bridge area in Kameoka City to Arashiyama’s Togetsu-kyo Bridge, is known as one of the most beautiful such gorges in Kyoto. The boat ride down the Hozu …
Tucked away in the former castle town of Kameoka, Kuwayama Shrine dates back to 709. It sits in a basin that’s said to have been a lake long ago, which is why the surrounding land is so fertile. Today, there are over 1,000 maple trees growing in the shrine grounds. When fall arrives, the autumn leaves ignite in a magnificent canopy of red to match the vermillion torii gates and lanterns they surround.
Kuwayama Shrine in Kameoka City, located in the Woodland Kyoto area, was built in 709. The temple sits in the Kameoka basin which is said to have been a lake long ago leading to the region being perfe …
Zenporitsu-ji Temple in Yawata City is just a 15-minute walk from Keihan Iwashimizu Hanchimangu Station, yet still offers a serene spot for viewing Kyoto’s fall foliage. Approximately 100 maple trees have been planted in the gardens, lining the pathways and framing the impressive front gate. Their dazzling display of vivid orange and ruby red autumn leaves has earned Zenporitsu-ji the nickname Momiji-dera, or Maple Tree Temple. No wonder it deserves a place on this list!
Zenporitsu-ji Temple (Maple Temple)
Zenporitsu-ji Temple, located in the southeast of Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine in Yawata City, Kyoto, was donated by Zenpoujikyusei, the officer of Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine, in 1257 as a dormitory …
This secluded temple was founded in 735, burnt down in 1137, then rebuilt in a new location in 1208. It’s home to an ancient five-story pagoda which, at 17.7 metres high, is the second smallest in Japan and a designated national treasure. You can see inside it during the temple’s annual autumn exhibition, while also admiring the spellbinding fall foliage that surrounds it. Keep an eye out for Kunikyo Palace and Heijo Palace among the splashes of red and gold in the valley below!
Legend has it that Fujioyama Kannonji Temple was founded in 735 when Emperor Shomu ordered a Buddhist monk to enshrine the Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva in order to pray for the safe construction of …
For those who want to truly immerse themselves in Kyoto’s fall foliage, Komyo-ji Temple is a fantastic spot. After passing through the main gate, turn left to enter Momiji-sando, or the Maple Path. It’s lined with maple trees on both sides, the branches of which meet above your head to form a 200-metre tunnel of amber and scarlet. The fallen leaves blanket the ground beneath your feet in red and yellow to complete the ethereal atmosphere.
Komyo-ji Temple was first built in 1198 by the soldier Kumagai Naozane in an area favored by his master Honen. Today, it the head temple of the Seizan sect of Pure Land Buddhism. Visitors can tour the …
Famous for its eleven-faced, thousand-armed statue of the Kannon Boddhisatva, Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple) also boasts unbelievably picturesque grounds. You’ll find different blooms to admire in every season, including – of course – captivating autumn leaves. The bright crimson and gold foliage makes a wonderful contrast against the grey stone lanterns and intricate wooden buildings. If you can, visit on the 17th of the month, when the Kamishoin study is open to the public. The view of the autumnal garden from within is particularly mesmerising.
Yanagidani Kannon (Yokoku-ji Temple)
Yanagidani Kannon (Yokokuji Temple) is located in Nagaokakyo City, not far from Kyoto City and close to the famous Otokuni Bamboo Grove, where the main attraction is the eleven-faced, thousand-armed s …