KYOTO Where magnificence is born

Autumn Foliage


The month of November is the best season of the year for viewing the vibrant crimson maple leaves in Kyoto. Just as in spring when the cherry blossoms bloom, this season is also when the largest number of tourists visit Kyoto.
Tofuku-ji Temple, Takao, Arashiyama, Ohara and Higashiyama, etc. are among the most popular spots for viewing maple leaves.

About Autumn Leaves

As summer fades to autumn, the trees prepare for the winter months. The difference between afternoon and evening temperature arises and the trees change color from green to red and yellow. The most beautiful example of this change can be found in the leaves of the maple tree. Japan is filled with maple trees and Japanese flock from all across the country to view the changing color of the leaves during the fall tourist season.

In Japan, autumn leaf viewing is called, "Momiji-gari". This practice has a long history, having been enjoyed by noble families twelve-hundred years ago in the Heian Period. Beginning in the Edo Period, roughly four hundred years ago, Momiji-gari spread to the general population, and as transportation networks grew with the modern age, people began traveling great distances to take in the colored leaves.

The colors and brilliance of the leaves change from year to year depending on rainfall, and especially temperature influences their hue. The greater the difference in the evening and afternoon temperatures, the more brilliant the reds and yellows become. The red leaves in the mountain region are particularly beautiful because of this difference in temperature.

From the mountains to the plains, Kyoto is blessed with maple trees. You can usually enjoy the leaves here from the end of October until around December 10th. However, recently global warming has disrupted this schedule, delaying the color change.

Popular Autumn Leaves Spots

    * Best Time: Mid - Late November
    * Best Time: Mid - Late November
Takao Region
    * Best Time: Early - Mid November
    * Best Time: Early - Mid November
    * Best Time: Mid - Late November
Hogon-in Temple (in Tenryu-ji Temple)
    * Best Time: Mid - Late November

Temple & Shrine Illuminations Schedule 2012

During the autumn tourist season in Kyoto, many temples and shrines host evening illuminations of the fall leaves in displays called "Light Ups".

In daylight, the colors of the changing leaves may be brilliant, but when illuminated against the night sky they produce a wholly different atmosphere, almost magical in appearance.

Illuminations are popular with Japanese and foreign people alike, and always draw large crowds.


Illumination Schedule 2012 *Information is subject to change without notice.

Location Period Hours Admission Fee
Tentoku-in Temple
(Toufukuji Subtemple)
Nov.16-Dec.9sunset-20:30500 yen
Kiyomizu-dera TempleNov.10-Dec.218:30-21:30400 yen
Joju-in Temple
(Kiyomizu Subtemple)
Nov.17-Dec.218:30-21:00600 yen
Eikan-do TempleNov.11-Dec.517:30-21:00600 yen
Tenju-an Temple
(Nanzenji Subtemple)
Nov.15-Nov.3017:30-21:00500 yen
Kodai-ji TempleOct.20-Dec.10Sunset-21:30600 yen
Entoku-in TempleOct.20-Dec.10Sunset-21:30500 yen
Chion-in TempleNov.2-Dec.217:30-21:00800 yen
Shoren-in TempleOct.27-Dec.918:00-21:30800 yen
Shoren-in Dainichi-doOct.27-Dec.917:00-21:00500 yen
Enkoji TempleNov.8-Nov.3017:30-20:30500 yen

Torin-in TempleOct.5-Oct.1418:00-20:30500 yen
Zuishin-in TempleNov.22-Dec.218:00-20:30500 yen
Hogon-in Temple
(Tenryuji Subtemple)
Nov.17-Dec.917:30-20:15600 yen

Color Changes in a Typical Year

The leaves first begin to change colors in the low temperatures of the mountains and eventually spread to the plains. Here is a quick introduction to the leaves at different times of the year. Please keep in mind that this schedule will vary depending on the temperature.

 Early Nov. (11/1-20)

Mid-Nov. (11/10-30)
    * Rakushisha ("Hut of Fallen Persimmons")
    * Gio-ji Temple

Late Nov. (11/20-12/10)

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