Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Tokyo & Kyoto| Beautiful Hotspots to see the Autumn Leaves in Japan

As much as I am very much looking forward to stepping into spring, I need to showcase the beautiful intense autumn colours we were lucky enough to experience during our time in Japan.   There is something quite romantic associated with Autumn, the cool crisp air, the misty mornings and nights,  scented spice candles, apple & cider and pumpkins and cosy evenings.

After being lucky enough to have experienced the beautiful Sakura (Cherry Blossom) season in 2014, we vowed to return in the autumn season as Japan exuberates a huge display of luxuriant and colourful array of foliage due to the high infusion of maples and cherry trees.   The passing of season is so pronounced, it’s no wonder why Japan are so proud of its seasons.  

We had timed it perfectly when it came to visiting Japan during the autumn season, in particular in Kyoto. Kyoto boasts some wonderful infusions of colors from early-mid November through to December.  Buddhist temples with their Zen gardens in autumn or spring is an impressive and magical experience.

Whilst in spring, pastel pink cherry blossoms petals line the streets and gardens, thousands of autumn maples become intense vermilion red and gyngko trees turns into an intense yellow and you’d think there’s no other place in the world that does Autumn better than Japan! 

Tokyo & Kyoto is awash with many good foliage spots, I serve up our top hotspots to see the magnificent colours of the autumn leaves changes. 

Kiyomizu-dera (Kyoto)

Koda-ji Temple (Kyoto)

Daigo-ji Temple (Kyoto)

Kyoto Imperial Palace Grounds 

    Nara Park

Rikugi-en Garden (Tokyo)

Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Kiyomizu-dera translates as ‘pure water temple’ and was named after Otowa Waterfall, where a spring within the mountain falls since its foundation.The Kiyomizu stage was built over a thousand years ago using special methods, assembled on large pillars without using a single nail. 

We visited this temple as the sky turned dusk and it was a small climb to the top and once you reach it, it is a refreshing experience.  From here, you see miles of stunningly beautiful foliage autumn scenery and even Kyoto Tower can be seen with the city lights twinkling in the distance.  The hills, flourish of foliage and temples all come together in beautiful harmony.    It is a well-known landscape that represents Kyoto. 

Koda-ji Zen Temple
Koda-ji is an outstanding temple, in the Higashiyama District. It is a Buddhist temple which is surrounded by beautiful Zen rock gardens. Though Beeches, birches, permissions, larches and gynkos all produce wonderful colours, the King of trees to see is the Japanese maple. They are just as impressive sunlit or artificially illuminated at night and this temple is where to see just that.   

During the autumn season only, the gardens illuminates the gardens to showcase the stunning leaves that produce a multitude of colours which is simply magnificent.  Visiting the temple during the night certainly adds a different atmosphere and we feel incredible lucky to have been surrounded by such beauty, harmony and history.

Daigo-ji Temple
Daigo-ji is a designated world heritage site, hold an importance element for the Japanese Buddhism.   The grounds are large and even comes with an entire mountainside.  Within the grounds is one of the most beautifully created Zen gardens we have ever seen.   It is most unfortunate that we were not permitted to take photographic memories, however, to have seen it in person is the most remarkable way to have experienced and appreciate the garden at it’s finest.  

The beauty of Daigo-ji is one where I highly recommend to visit when visiting Kyoto. Being slightly further out than the other temples, we found it to be less crowded and far more tranquil with many peaceful pods to sit back and relax.  The vermilion red temple and bridge against a backdrop of greenery in spring or fall reflected and rippling in the water makes a picturesque setting. 

Kyoto Imperial Palace
Our English-speaking guided tour took us around this former ruling palace. Its long walls with gates, halls and ornamental gardens surround the complex. The buildings within cannot be entered and pictures can only be taken from the outside. With a good zoom lens you can pick up some of the internal details of the buildings such as the decorative walls and doors. The tour certainly provides you into a glimpse of Japan's Imperial History and the grounds and ornamental gardens were all immaculately maintained. 

Nara Park
The Park is located centrally in the City of Nara.  It is a deer free roaming park – all the deers are accustom to human interaction and are fairly tame. In Shinto, deers are considered messengers of the gods and have become a natural treasures of the City.   Many deer frolic on the spacious lawns with small streams and ponds and this has become a wonderful backdrop of Nara.   

Rikugi-en Garden 
Rikugi-en translates into 'Six poems garden'. A popular Tokyo park in the Bunkyo district built in the Edo period. One of the key highlights is close to the Somei-mon entrance of the park and is the beautiful stone Togetsukyo Bridge with its large centre-point rock. The maple trees at either side of the bridge creates a scenic picture as the water below gently reflects its surroundings. The park itself is exquisite and is rather a hidden gem. It may not be as large as Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, but it certainly displays wonderful colourings during each season to season and the autumn is no exception.

Walking around the spacious park offers calming views. The pathways lead you around the central pond where many of the miniature hills can be seen and many koi fishes swimming in the ponds. 


  1. Stunning photos! I really like seeing the colour changes in the trees/leaves. A lot of the trees here in Australia are evergreens so it really is quite the struggle to find areas which are not (really where people had planted them ages ago)

    nat | Dignifiable

    1. Thank you. Though I'm sure the Evergreens are as wonderful as they are, it is always nice to see Autumn display an array of colours. For me, it wouldn't feel like Autumn if I did see any colour changes in the leaves! England has its fair share of exuberant colours in Autumn so I feel lucky to see the passing of seasons so pronounced. I would love to visit Australia one day - I shall have to refer to your blog for some ideas - you have some wonderful photos I need to explore further ;) Thanks for stopping by x


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