Autumn

Kyoto Popular Momiji Spots and Fall Festivals in 2018-Autumn in the old Capital

Onomatopoeia

Writer

Kyoto is one of the most popular places among world heritage-list tourist areas in the world. Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than 1200 years until 1867, the year of Meiji Restoration that ushered in a new era of modern Japan by transferring governmental authorities from the Tokugawa family to the emperor. Kyoto’s long history and traditions as Japan’s intellectual center make its culture more unique and sophisticated than any other city in Japan. Kyoto was the city of noble people centered around the Imperial Court, so the vestiges of aristocratic culture remain in current Kyoto. Appreciating the beauty of fall colors was an important part of their culture as well. In this article, I picked up several momiji spots in Kyoto for you to be able to feel “miyabi (雅)” or elegance of natural beauty in autumn in Kyoto.

Momiji in Kyoto

There are many places with beautiful autumn colors in Japan. But what makes Kyoto’s momiji so special? I’m not really sure about it, but I would say that the whole area around Kyoto has been designed to create harmony with its natural surroundings, which conversely inspire people in Kyoto to harmonize their lives with nature around them. This correlation between people and nature have made Kyoto’s landscape more distinctive.

Most Japanese have been taught in their school days that Japanese culture originates mainly from Kyoto, so the history and traditions cultivated in Kyoto are familiar to Japanese people. If “hanami (cherry blossom viewing)” can be considered as a chance for you to get dynamic power from nature, I would say, “momijigari (autumn leaves viewing) can help you get “modest” power from it. Anyway, I recommend that you learn a little about Kyoto and read about temples or shrines you will visit beforehand. This will make your experience in Kyoto more valuable and memorable. The best time for viewing beautiful momiji leaves in Kyoto is typically from the mid-November to early December

Contents

10 Best Momiji Spots and Festivals in Kyoto

1. Shoren-in, Higashiyama Ward
2. Kosan-ji Temple at Togano-o Mountain, Ukyo Ward
3. Jakko-in, Sakyo Ward
4. Suzaku-no-niwa Garden, Shimogyo Ward
5. Bishamon-do Temple, Yamashina Ward
6. Kurama, Sakyo Ward
7. Tenjuan at Nanzen-ji Temple, Sakyo Ward
8. Momiji Matsuri at Arashiyama, Ukyo Ward
9. Jidai Matsuri at Heian Shrine, Sakyo Ward
10. Ohitaki Matsuri at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Fushimi Ward

1. Shoren-in, Higashiyama Ward

Image courtesy of 美輝

Shoren-in (青蓮院) Temple was built in the late 13th century. The temple is known as “monseki-jiin”, whose abbot was ordained from imperial court families or politically high-ranking families. In the temple, there is an elevated spot called “Shogun-kaizuka (将軍貝塚), from which you can see a beautiful carpet of scarlet momiji leaves especially at dusk. Also, the temple is lit up at night for a certain period during momiji peak season. A night walk through the beautifully illuminated leaves of autumn colors will surely take your breath away. Click on the following link for more details: http://www.shorenin.com. (In Japanese)

• Entrance Time
– Shoren-in: 9:00 – 17:00
-special illumination periods in spring and fall: 9:00 – 22:00
– Shogun-zuka: 9:00 – 21:30

• Entrance Fee
– ¥500 (for adults)
– ¥200 ~ ¥400 (for children)
• Entrance Fee (Special Illumination)
-¥800 (for adults)
– ¥400 (for children)

• How to Get There

– 6 minutes’ walk from Higashiyama Station on the Tozai Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway

2.   Kosan-ji Temple at Togano-o Mountain, Ukyo Ward

This world heritage-listed temple, located deep in the mountainous area of Mount Takao, used to be a secret location for ascetic practices. Walking through the thickly-forested mountain covered with scarlet leaves to the temple will make you feel as if you were an esoteric Buddhist monk. I suppose this is the best place to visit if you want to get away from your daily routine and obligations for a while. The temple has various National Treasures and Important Cultural Assets, one of which is a set of four picture scrolls called “Choju-giga (鳥獣戯画)”, depicting animals as “humans”. These scrolls are considered to be the first manga in the world. If you are interested, check the official webpage: http://kosanji.com. (In Japanese)

• Entrance Time
-8:30 – 17:00
• Entrance Fee
– ¥800
-¥500 (surcharged for momiji viewing)

• How to Get there
-55 minutes’ JR bus ride (bound for Togano-o) from Kyoto Station

3. Jakko-in, Sakyo Ward

This revered temple is said to have been built in the 7th century by Prince Umayado (also known as Prince Shotoku) to mourn his father. It is famous for its beautiful and tranquil setting. The temple has been a convent since 1186, when Taira-no-Tokuko (also known as “Kenreimon-in”), the daughter of the first samurai ruler, Taira-no-Kiyomori, came to the temple to become a nun. She lost all her relatives including her son in the feud with the Minamoto clan, Taira’s rival family. Because of the sad life she had lived through, Jakko-in has a calm but forlorn atmosphere, which makes the temple even more beautiful. The approach to the main hall with moss-covered stone steps makes a great contrast with red and yellow fall leaves. Here is the official website: http://www.jakkoin.jp. (Japanese only)

• Entrance Time
-9:00 – 17:00 (9:00 – 16:30 from December to February)
• Entrance Fee
– ¥600 (for adults)
-¥350 (for children)

• How to Get There
o 70 minutes’ ride on the #17 Kyoto City Bus from Kyoto Station to the Ohara bus stop
o 15 minutes’ walk along the river from the Ohara bus stop

4. Suzaku-no-niwa Garden, Shimogyo Ward

Great momiji spots aren’t only at famous temples and shrines, but just in the park near Kyoto Station! (as a proverb says, “it’s hard to see what’s under your nose”.)  It is Suzaku-no-niwa Garden. Located in Umekoji Park near Kyoto Station, this small garden was built in 1994 to commemorate the 1200th anniversary of the relocation of Capital City from Nara to Kyoto. The garden is designed in a way that no buildings are seen from inside wherever you are in the park. So, you may feel as if you are standing alone with no contact with the hustle and bustle of the streets. You will notice all the elements of a Japanese-style garden: miniature rolling hills, a bridge over small streams, and a pond. Reflections of the red leaves on water are marvelous, especially when lit up at night. Check the following website for more information: http://www.kyoto-ga.jp/umekouji/suzakunoniwa/. (In Japanese)

• Entrance Time
-9:00 – 17:00
• Entrance Fee
-¥200

• How to Get There
-15 minutes’ walk along the Shiokouji Street from Kyoto Station

5.   Bishamon-do Temple, Yamashina Ward

To be honest, Bishamon-do Temple is not so conspicuous as the other famous temples and shrines in Kyoto. So, it does not attract big crowds who came to see autumn leaves, but it has a no less scenic beauty of bright scarlet foliage. A canopy of the autumn colors of the weeping cherry trees grace the temple’s hall and takes your breath away. Actually, this temple dilapidated over the Age of Provincial Wars from the 15th to 16th century until the Edo Period, when reconstruction began with the support of Tenkai, who was one of the closest of the staff of Tokugawa Ieyasu. As a “monseki-jiin”, Bishamon-do was successfully able to restore its former glory. Bishamon-ten, which is the deity enshrined in the temple, is believed to bring success and prosperity. For more information, please refer to the following article: http://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/mesmerizing-kyoto-bisyamon.

• Entrance Time
-8:30 – 17:00
• Entrance Fee
-¥500

• How to Get There
-15 -20 minutes’ walk north from Yamashina Station (on the JR Line, Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line and Keihan Line)

6.   Kurama, Sakyo Ward

image courtesy of おくちん

Kurama is a small town in the rural and mountainous area. It takes less than one hour to the north from central Kyoto by train. The town reminds many Japanese of its famous Kurama Temple and hot springs. Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune, one of the well-known samurai heroes in Japan’s medieval history, was brought as a young boy to the temple and forced to live a monk life. The cable car is available (¥200 one way) halfway up to the mountain, where the temple’s main hall stands unobtrusively. The autumn colors seen from the temple are undoubtedly gorgeous. After visiting the temple, hot spring water is waiting for you to stop by and relax at Kurama Onsen. What a luxury experience to see momiji while soaking in the outdoor bath! Here is the official website of Kurama Onsen: http://www.kurama-onsen.co.jp/index_e.html.

• Entrance Time
– 9:00 – 16:30 (Kurama Temple)
• Entrance Fee
-¥300

• How to Get There
-3 minutes’ walk from Kurama Station on the Euzan Line (connected with Kyoto Station)

7. Tenjuan at Nanzen-ji Temple, Sakyo Ward

There is a Japanese word “別格 (bekkaku)”. If something is bekkaku, it means it is in a different league. Nanzen-ji is also “bekkaku” as one of the highly ranked zen temples in Japan. Among several gardens and sub-temples built in Nanzen-ji’s expansive grounds there is Tenjuan, a small sub-temple dedicated to the zen master who served Emperor Kameyama in the 13th century. Tenjuan has two worth visiting gardens: a dry landscape garden and a pond garden. They are particularly attractive when illuminated during the autumn evenings. Here is the related link: http://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/autumn-leaves-tenjyu-sub-temple.

• Entrance Time
-8:30 – 17:00
– 17:00 – 20:45 (for illumination in November)
• Entrance Fee
– ¥500 (¥600 for illumination in November)

• How to Get There
– 5-10 minutes’ walk from Keage Station on the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line

8.   Momiji Matsuri at Arashiyama (Nov 12th, 2019), Ukyo Ward

Arashiyama has been a nationally popular destination for trips since the medieval Heian Period when Imperial court nobles and Kyoto’s elite would often go for gorgeous outings to Arashiyama and admire the red maple leaves in the area. Arashiyama Momiji Festival recreates the sophisticated customs practiced among the Heian aristocrats. The festival takes place on the second Sunday of November every year, with many activities around the Togetsu-kyo (渡月橋) bridge crossing over the Oi River (a.k.a the Katsura or the Hozu). Cruising down the Oi River in gondola-like small boats is one of the special events you can’t miss. Geisha dancers in traditional costumes show elegant moves to the viewers around them in a spectacular scenery set by Mother Nature. Also, the open-air tea ceremony by beautiful geishas on the riverbank is worth joining. Here is the official website for more details: http://www.the-kyoto.jp/momijimatsuri. (Japanese only)

How to Get There

-10 minutes’ walk from Sagano Station on the JR San-in Line

9. Jidai Matsuri at Heian Shrine (October 22nd, 2019), Sakyo Ward

Sounds like Jedi, doesn’t it? But this festival isn’t for the promotional campaign for the Star Wars series. Jidai Matsuri is an annual festival that takes place to celebrate the anniversary (October 22nd) of the foundation of Kyoto. The festival features a gorgeous 2-kilometer parade of 2000 people in different costumes that represent different eras in the 1200-year-long history of Kyoto. That’s why this is called “時代(jidai)”, meaning eras in English.

The parade moves from the Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine, Higashiyama, with about 20 groups of historical figures from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 and goes in reverse chronological order to the group of court nobles from the 8th century. Seeing the entire parade surely gives you a great opportunity to know about the flow of history of Japan’s oldest city. The participants are dressed in almost the same clothes as used to be worn in each era. The parade is so large. It takes a few hours to watch all the procession to pass by. It is obvious that various costumes seen at this festival are much more beautiful than those in Halloween parades across the country in October. Visit the following link for more details about the festival: http://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/kyoto-jidai-festival.

How to Get There

-10 minutes’ walk from Higashiyama Station on Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line

10.   Ohitaki Matsuri at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Fushimi Ward (November 8th, 2019)

As the principal shrine of more than 30,000 Inari shrines across the country, Fushimi Inari Shrine attracts many visitors, who are looking forward to participating in one of the shrine’s main events in autumn – Ohitaki (御火焚き) Matsuri. This is a ritual ceremony that takes place annually at all Inari shrines to show gratitude to the deity for a good rice harvest of the year. Admission is free. More than 100,000 wooden votive slips with various wishes of shrine visitors written on them are gathered at the shrine square. Then the fire is set to the votive “gomaki (護摩木)” slips as the priests chant Buddhist mantras around them. Ohitaki will take place at other shrines or temples within Kyoto City. (My recommendation is Uzumasa Koryu-ji Temple, where the wooden statue of the Bodhisattva Maitreya is preserved as one of the national treasures.) Here is the shrine’s official website: http://inari.jp.

How to Get There

-A short walk from Fushimi Station tom JR Nara Line
– 5 minutes’ walk east from Fushimi-Inari Station on the Keihan Line

Closing Remarks

Kyoto is literally a cornucopia of cultural events to see and experience, with its 2000 religious places, palaces, gardens and historical buildings well-preserved. Also, it abounds in scenic beauty spots, so you can’t make up your mind which one to put in your itinerary. Anyway, I hope this article will be a good help for you. If you would like a local guide to spend a day with you or take you to a festival and tell you more information, please check the banner below.

An Ultimate Idea Source for Your Kyoto Stay!

Kyoto is an old capital of Japan and a cultural and historical mecca for everyone who visits this country. It is the most popular city among tourists and a must-see destination indeed. Kyoto boasts over 4000 historical places including shrines, temples, and attracts visitors with its charming atmosphere of an ancient city. This city is great for shopping, bicycling, hiking, museums, galleries, green spaces, and features many famous festivals. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Kyoto! Please, have a look, URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/100-things-kyoto-sightseeing-spots-traditional-japanese-events

Don’t Miss the Popular Autumn Festivals and Events in Kyoto!

Kyoto is beautiful and sophisticated at any season. Autumn turns the old capital into warm orange, yellow, and crimson colors. Not only you will find the most outstanding and picturesque views with autumn leaves, but you will also experience various traditional ceremonies and take an active part in the city life. Come to Kyoto in Autumn, to pick the tea leaves,  feel Zen, and study its history through parades. For more information about the most popular events in Kyoto this year, please check the following article!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/popular-kyoto-autumn-festivals-events 

Find Out How to Enjoy Autumn in Japan!

Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons in Japan. This is the season of Koyo or Momijigari. Momijigari is a tradition of admiring autumn landscape, very similar to Hanami – admiring cherry blossoms in spring. If you would like to know more about autumn foliage season around Japan and find out how to adore it in a traditional Japanese way, the following article will be helpful.

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5975/

Pick the Best Autumn Foliage in Japan!

You probably know that autumn in Japan with its colorful leaves scenes is as prevalent among tourists and locals as spring with its cherry blossoms. Momiji or enjoying autumn leaves is an indispensable part of Japanese culture. I hope this article raised your interest in Japanese autumn. And the following one picked top 12 best places and events to enjoy colorful autumn leaves!
Check it out! URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4274/

Discover Tokyo’s Festivals Every Month

If you look at Tokyo from another angle, you will figure out that this is a city of festivals. Each part of the town has a local community with its traditions. And for Japanese people, it is essential to keep the sense of their community. Thus, you can see plenty of festivals almost every week in different parts of Tokyo. The following article will provide you with the best Tokyo festivals each month of the year!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5852/

Onomatopoeia

Have two kids. Teach English at an “eikaiwa” school more than a decade Love cake.

Written on

Other Events You May Like