Hase-dera, located just few minutes from Hase train station in Enoden, is well known for its beautiful autumn leaves that appear from autumn to early winter. Usually, you start seeing the changes in the colors of leaves from October to November, blooming to their peak in the middle of November to mid December. Because it is so magnificent, at Hase-dera, they extend the hours of operation during autumn,and host the autumn leaves light up event for two weeks. If you are planning your visit to Kamakura during autumn or early winter, definitely make sure to stop by Hase-dera. Hopefully you visit at the peak of autumn to view the beautiful color changing leaves. You would certainly not regret it!
Hase-dera and its charm
When people visit Kamakura for the first time, or even for a second time, they tend to go to see the Buddha and stop by at Tsurugaoka Machimangu. It is not a bad idea for a beginner traveler, but I highly recommend visiting Hase-dera if you go and see the Buddha. It is at the same train station, Hase, and Hase-dera is always beautiful, whichever the season you choose to go to. The temple is incredibly charming, and the flora you see at the temple makes it even more colorful and spectacular no matter what time of year you decide to visit.
It is definitely hard to choose the best time of the year, but certainly during autumn, when the autumn leaves are at their peak, Hase-dera is simply incredible. What is so special about Hase-dera, is that it usually closes the doors at 4:30pm throughout this particular time of the year, but during the autumn leaves light up event, the temple keeps the doors open till 6:00pm (during weekdays) and 6:30pm (during weekends). The light up event creates a totally different atmosphere from the temple you see during the day. Last year, this event took place from Nov 22nd to Dec 7th, so let’s wait and see how the temperature affects the autumn leaves this year. At the moment, Hase-dera has not announced this year’s light up event yet.
Autumn leaves at their peak
Kamakura is a popular tourist spot for both domestic and international travelers in Japan. During the time of autumn leaves, Kamakura is increasingly popular, flooded by people all aiming to see the beautiful scenery of nature, along with traditional Japanese architecture. Among those popular tourist destinations, Hase-dera is always highly anticipated during the time of autumn leaves because of the wide range of colors you can see lit up at the temple in the evenings.
From vivid reds to earthy browns, you see a wide range of autumn leaves all over the temple. From the moment you step into the temple, it is like no other place. You feel like you have just entered a magical world. You can simply enjoy being in the moment, or try to capture the beautiful natural colors that are not artificially created by the people. However, at Hase-dera you want to make sure you follow their rules; one of them being that you are not allowed to take your tripod. Since many of the tourist spots started to ban using a selfie-stick, you want to also check with the temple what is allowed and what is not allowed when taking pictures.
The harmony of nature and human creations
Hase-dera is most well-known for its “jizo”, particularly “mizuko-jizo.” Jizo is a stone statue, which represents the guardian deity of children. Mizuko-jizo is a jizo for those lost souls before birth, or at birth, and also for those children who passed away at an early age. At Hase-dera, you see hundreds upon hundreds of these mizuko-jizo statues, and the collaboration of jizo with autumn leaves make for an even more magical atmosphere. In the picture above, not only jizo and autumn leaves, you see the full moon in the distance, which was captured during last years event. The time Hase-dera hosts its light up event is not fixed because you have to wait to for when the leaves change color each year, but if you are lucky, you might be able to see this magical moment with a full moon again this year!
Four seasons at Hase-dera
If you have already booked your trip to Japan and are planning to go to Kamakura, but not during autumn, don’t worry! Hase-dera is beautiful all year round. This is probably one of the most beautiful temples in Kamakura, Japan, which displays the seasonal changes so well, with flora all over the temple. Even you visit the temple on a cold winter day, it is still charming, especially with a little bit of snow. During the summer, even when it is extremely hot and humid, the view overlooking the beach below from the look-out point is spectacular. Whenever you visit Hase-dera, you always find something new, making you want to come back. Seriously, if you have a chance, this is a temple worth re-visiting. Depending on the season you visit the temple, it has totally different appearances, and you will never be disappointed by its beauty.
Autumn leaves all over Japan
If you are visiting Japan, but Kamakura is not your travel destination this time around, don’t worry! Autumn leaves take place all over Japan, and you do not need to go anywhere special to see the colorful colors of autumn. Just step out of your hotel room and you might be surprised at what you’ll find at these unexpected places. This is just to illustrate a random park you visit in autumn, but you might be lucky enough to spot Mt. Fuji in the distance, along with beautiful autumn leaves and azalea. Autumn leaves are everywhere in Japan, and as colder temperatures start the process of changing the leaves, you must not forget to look up at the sky while you are traveling!
Immerse yourself in nature at Hase-dera
When international friends ask which time of the year would be the best time to visit Japan, I always tell them to visit in autumn. This is when the leaves are at their peak all over Japan, and I enjoy taking them to Hase-dera. If you have young children and are not able to visit the temple in the evening, it is still incredibly beautiful during the day.. When the leaves are lit up, this definitely creates a special atmosphere, and if you happen to have time, it would be fantastic to visit it in the afternoon and maybe have an afternoon tea at the temple while waiting for the sun to set. In this case, you will get to see the whole spectrum of autumn leaves during the daylight, and when the night falls. It is 300 JPY (2.5 USD) for adults and 100 JPY (0.8 USD) for children for admission, and the doors are open from 8:00am -17:00pm from March to September, and 8:00am - 16:30pm from October to February.
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