[Eastern Kyoto] Best fall foliage in Kyoto (Higashiyama Area)



Fushimi Inari-taisha is best to visit before the crowd! It is open 24/7, so I recommend you to start your day early and come before 8am to avoid the crowd.

If you are only after fall foliage, you can skip this and start your day with (3)Tofuku-ji Temple which opens at 9am.


Follow by that, you can take a short bus ride to the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The main stage is under reconstruction, however, you can enjoy some street food or have your lunch in the historic streets “Ninenzaka” and “Sannenzaka” located at the bottom of the mountains.

To complete your visit, walk towards Yasaka Shrine which brings you to Gion shopping street. If you would like to finish your sightseeing day, you can opt out 5,6 and do some shoppings around Gion shopping street.

Late Afternoon/Evening

However, if you’re still down for autumn leaves hunting, you should definitely pay a visit to Nanzen-ji and Eikando Temple which are next to each other. Evening illuminations is on during autumn period, therefore you can schedule it near the end of the day.

Below is an overview of the point of interests.

Fushimi Inari-taisha (伏見稲荷大社)

Fushimi Inari-taisha is guided by god Inari (Japanese spirit of foxes). It is one of the most important Shrine in Kyoto as it is believed to give blessings to rice, sake, prosperity and business. The black name carvings on the gates are the names of business merchants who donated the gates in hope of receiving good luck in their business. This place is also very popular amongst tourist because of the endless torii gates. I spent half an hour taking a stroll along the stunning orange torii gates and completed the visit by hanging a miniature torii charm with my own wish near the main shrine.

Striking orange torii gates in Fushimi Inari-taisha.

How to get there

Fushimi Inari-taisha is only 5 mins away from Kyoto Station by taking the JR Nara Line. As soon as you exit Fushimi-Inari station, you’ll immediately see the main entrance of Fushimi Inari-taisha with its massive red orange torii. After passing the entrance, you will see the hall of worship where you ring the bell, make donations and say prayers to your means.

Useful Information

Opening Times: 24/7
Admission Fee: Free
Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 612-0882, Japan
Website: http://inari.jp/en/


Tofukuji (東福寺)

Tofukuji is said to have the prettiest autumn colours in Kyoto. The most popular view is from Tsutenkyo Bridge but it does get really crowded during autumn season which makes the visit slightly less enjoyable. Do get there before the opening time during peak season!

Photo from Tofukuji’s official website.

How to get there

From Kyoto Station, take the JR Nara Line to Tofukuji Station and walk about 15 minutes to the entrance. The station is quite a distance away from the entrance, so do prepare your legs for the walk!

Useful Information

Opening Times: 9:00 – 16:00
Admission Fee: Free
Address: 15-778 Hommachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0981, Kyoto Prefecture
Website: http://www.tofukuji.jp/english/


Kiyomizu-dera temple (清水寺)

Definitely a must see place in Kyoto! Although the main stage is still under renovation during my visit, I had a lot of fun overseeing the mountain and the autumn trees and most importantly, the place is big enough for you not to worry about the crowd. Moving down to the foot of the mountain in the historic streets “Ninenzaka” and “Sannenzaka”, you’ll find a lot of restaurant and shops. If you are a vegetarian or a tofu lover, you should try Kyoto’s traditional tofu meal which is inspired by local monk culture. Kyoto produce top qualities tofu but only if you enjoy tofu! My boyfriend is a meat lover, so he has mixed feelings about tofu cuisine, but I absolutely enjoyed it! We went for tea ceremony experience at Ninenzaka as well. For shopaholics, the streets is a good place for souvenir shopping spree. To wrap up your visit in this area, you can walk towards Yasaka Shrine where you can catch a few drops of “beauty water” and send love wishes.

How to get there

The easiest way is to catch bus 100 or 206 from Kyoto Station or Tofukuji bus stop for those of you who are following my suggested itinerary. Follow by that will be a 10-minute up hill walk to the main entrance of Kiyomizu-dera temple.  If you take the train, get off at Kiyomizu-gojo Station and it will be a 20-minute walk.

Useful Information

Opening hours: 6:00-18:00
Admission fee: ¥400
Address: 1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Website: http://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/en/ 


Nanzenji Temple (南禅寺)

Nanzenji’s main ground area is free of charge so you can take a stroll around and enjoy the maple trees.

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Nanzen-ji main ground is free of charge.

How to get there

There are a few bus that will bring you near the temple. From Kiyomizu-dera, you can take bus 100 and walk for 10 minutes to Nanzen-ji Temple.

Useful Information

Opening hours: 8:40-16:30 (Dec 1 – Feb 28), 8:40 – 17:00 (Mar 1 – Nov 30)
Address: 16 Nanzenji Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Website: http://www.nanzen.net/english/ (The English website doesn’t have a lot of information, I suggest going to the Japanese version and use google chrome extension for the translation)
Admission Feehttp://www.nanzen.net/haikan.html (the admission fee for different parts of the temple)

Eikando Temple (永観堂)

It is located next to Nanzen-ji temple so you can easily visit both of them in one go. Entrance fee is compulsory for Eikando Temple but you’ll be satisfied by the fall foliage. Visiting Eikando Temple had to be the highlight of my day as I felt like the maple trees in the garden is properly taken care of and there are abundant of fall leaves.  The last entry for daytime slot is 4:00 but don’t worry if you can’t make it, because the night illumination starts at 5:30.

Definitely worth a visit with the abundant autumn colors.

Eikando Temple is also very near the Tetsugaku no Michi (Philosopher’s path) in case you can’t get enough of the fall leaves.

Useful Information

Opening hours: 9:00-16:00 (Daytime) 17:30 – 20:30 (Evening)
Admission Fee: ¥1000 (Daytime) ¥600 (Night illumination)
Address: 48 Eikandocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8445, Japan
Website: http://www.eikando.or.jp/English/index_eng.html


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