There’s no mistaking the fact that when you bring up the fall season in November for Kyoto, everywhere you go will be crowded with tourists. If you use your own car to go anywhere in the city, you risk running into traffic and wishing you had taken the train. With that, allow me to introduce to you the secret spots for touring the fall colors by taking the Keifuku Dentetsu Arashiyama Line, popularly known as the “Randen,” which runs through Kyoto.
Fall Colors Decorate the Quiet Road Leading to Rokuoin Temple
First, let’s get on the Keifuku Arashiyama Line and get off at Rokuoin Station, two stops prior to Arashiyama (the last stop). Walk about 3 minutes and You’ll arrive at the temple I’m recommending. Just like the name of the station, this temple’s name is Rokuoin Temple.
To start, the road leading up to the shrine that peaks through the main gates to the center is a sight to behold. The fall colors aren’t overwhelming but rather surround you and the contrast of the green moss and red leaves is truly beautiful. If you go early in the morning, it shouldn"t be hard to snap pictures of the road without people getting in the way. It’s in a very quiet area so it sort of feels a little like time has stopped.
If all goes well, maybe you can enjoy it all to yourself?
The garden that you can see from inside the reception hall where the road leads is another beautiful sight. It offers a luxurious scenic view of Arashiyama burning in fall colors. As It’s far removed from the Sagano/Arashiyama area, there’s unlikely to be bus tours arriving here. In addition, because there isn’t a collection of temples to be visited in the neighborhood, there won’t be a confusing mess of tourists even in the peak season. As long as the timing’s not bad, you can get your fill of the fall colors while experiencing the quiet calm. This is one temple I don’t want many to know about but I urge you to visit it.
Admission Fee: 300 JPY Visiting Hours: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
Kitano Tenman Shrine is... famous for plums?
Now, let’s get back on the Keihan Dentetsu. This time we will be transferring to the Kitano Line and going to the final stop, Kitano Hakubaicho. From there we’ll walk about 10 minutes until we reach Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, which enshrines the god of learning, Sugawara no Michizane. It’s also well known for its plums and at the start of spring there are many tourists who come just for that.
So then WHY am I talking to you about plums? Well, I’m talking about fall colors! In recent years, It’s become a new hot spot for fall colors and they"ve begun to open to the public just for the fall season. This place is located inside an area opened to the public known as Ume Garden.
The "Odoi" (earthern fortification) made by Hideyoshi Toyotomi in Fall Colors
In Kitano Tenmangu there remains the earthen fortification–known as “odoi”–that Hideyoshi Toyotomi was said to have built around the city of Kyoto after uniting the entire country. The fall colors around this Odoi are quite beautiful and in the beginning of 2007 in the autumn season they opened the “Momiji Garden” to the public. Actually, there are many people from Kyoto who still don’t know about this and there are not a lot of tours from travel agencies that go here yet. As such, It’s a true secret spot, the beauty of its fall colors outshine the possibility of being crowded. Many thanks to Mr. Hideyoshi!
Admission Fee: 600 JPY (includes tea and sweets)
It is open to the public during the normal autumn season. Please be sure to check the schedule before you go. They also have a time where they do night illuminations. So be sure to check for that as well.
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