Best time to travel to Kyoto

Autumn Foliage (Kōyō) in Kyoto

This is a magical time when all parks, temples, shrines and gardens explode into red and orange hues

Autumn Foliage (Kōyō)
Autumn Foliage (Kōyō)
Autumn Foliage (Kōyō)
Autumn Foliage (Kōyō)
Autumn Foliage (Kōyō)

Kyoto is known worldwide as one of the oldest cities in Japan with a rich history reflected in its imperial gardens, sacred temples and shrines—and all that looks particularly astonishing during autumn.

One of the best spots to enjoy the beauty of the foliage is Kodai-ji Temple—a Rinzai Buddhist temple which was built in 1606. The area has numerous walking trails lined by trees.

Arashiyama is a charming district of western Kyoto with ancient Buddhist temples, where you can see maple tree gardens and the “Saga Scenic Railway.” This is an eye-catching route, which runs along the Hozugawa River from Saga torokko station to Kameoka torokko Station. It's a great chance for sightseers to enjoy picturesque sceneries of the area at a slower pace.

Kiyomizu-dera is a Buddhist temple listed as a UNESCO world heritage site with more than 1,000 trees and many gorgeous waterfalls. The main hall of the temple has a big veranda that invites visitors to enjoy fantastic views of the city.

The Tofuku-ji Temple is one of the biggest and oldest temples in Kyoto, known for its Sanmon gate (the most important gate of a Japanese Zen Buddhist temple). There are plentiful gorgeous Japanese gardens with colourful maple trees to visit as well. Don't forget to explore the Tsutenkyo Bridge and Honbo Garden while visiting.

Takao is considered to be one of the most popular for viewing autumn leaves. You will definitely be impressed by the mountain views adorned with numerous maples during your visit.

Leaves begin to change in the middle of October, and you can enjoy the colours of the trees until mid-December. The peak viewing time is the middle of November.

Practical info

When is autumn foliage at its peak in Kyoto?

November is the best time to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking autumn foliage in Kyoto. The leaves start changing colours in mid-October and continue to display mesmerizing colors until mid-December. However, different tree species tend to change colors at different times, making it hard to predict when the colors will be at their most vibrant. Visitors are advised to visit Kyoto from mid-November to early December to get a chance to witness the awe-inspiring autumn foliage at its prime. Show more

What are some of the greatest places to view autumn foliage in Kyoto?

Kyoto is an ideal destination for autumn enthusiasts, and there are numerous places to explore. One can visit the likes of Takao, Tofuku-ji Temple, Kodai-ji Temple, and Kiyomizu-dera Temple - one of the UNESCO world heritage sites in Kyoto. The district of Arashiyama is also a perfect destination with various ancient Buddhist temples and gardens filled with maple trees, not to mention the stunning 'Saga Scenic Railway.' Visitors are guaranteed to experience the most unforgettable autumn displays at these locations. Show more

What does Kodai-ji Temple offer visitors in Kyoto?

Kodai-ji Temple, founded in 1606 in Kyoto, is a Rinzai Buddhist temple and one of the most popular locations to enjoy the autumn foliage season. The temple features unique walking trails lined by trees displaying brilliant colors, several teahouses, zen and rock gardens, and breathtaking ponds. Notably, visitors can watch an autumn illumination event that lets them enjoy the incredible views of the foliage and the temple when it's lit up at night. Show more

Is Kiyomizu-dera Temple accessible for visitors during autumn foliage season in Kyoto?

Yes, Kiyomizu-dera Temple is an excellent location to enjoy the autumn foliage when it's at its peak, which usually runs from mid-November to early December in Kyoto. The temple boasts an extensive garden with more than 1,000 trees, displaying stunning red and orange colors in autumn. Besides the captivating autumn foliage, the temple is famous for its impressive main hall, which joins the veranda and has stunning views of the city. A visit to Kiyomizu-dera Temple during the season is a must for sightseers exploring Kyoto. Show more

When is the best time to view autumn foliage in Kyoto?

To experience the best autumn foliage in Kyoto, one should visit the city in mid-November. This is when the colors of the trees are incredibly vibrant and at their best. Though it's difficult to determine exactly when the colors will peak because different species turn colors at different times, typically, the leaves begin changing in mid-October. Visitors can enjoy the colors of the foliage against the stunning backdrops of shrines and temples until mid-December, making it an unforgettable experience for sightseers. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin