Kyoto in autumn is a magical time of year, with a spectacular display of leaves changing color. In 2022, the best time to see fall foliage in Kyoto is from around November 26 to December 8, when the Japanese maples turn red and ginkgo shift to gold.

During this time, the fall foliage and the distinctly Japanese backdrops of the city’s temples and shrines converge to create unforgettable memories.

Here are ten excellent spots where you can fully enjoy Kyoto in autumn and take in the city’s elegant atmosphere.

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When is the best time to see fall colors in Kyoto?

Even if you’re not comfortable calling yourself a leaf peeper, you won’t want to miss the gorgeous fall foliage in Kyoto. The best time to see fall colors in Kyoto is from late November to early December.

As Kyoto is so popular for the fall foliage, be sure to book a hotel at least two months in advance.

Also, since the average temperature in Kyoto in autumn is around 7.8℃/46.04℉, it can be fairly chilly, so be sure to bring warm clothes.

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10 Best places for autumn colors in Kyoto

1. Kiyomizu-dera Temple: This is the true meaning of Kyoto in autumn!

Kiyomizu-dera Temple overlooks the Higashiyama area and is perfect for getting the feeling of ancient Kyoto. The nearest station is Kiyomizu-Gojo Station on the Keihan Railway, and from there, it’s about a 25-minute walk east to the temple. A top tourist draw, the temple is also close to other attractive sites like Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka.

The Kyoto autumn colors are in full view from Kiyomizu-dera’s hilltop main hall, also called the “Kiyomizu Stage.” The carpet of autumn colors spreading across the Kin-un-kyo Gorge below is breathtaking, and feeling the refreshing air while taking in the view from the main hall is the epitome of “Autumn in Japan.”

The best time to experience this inspiring scene of Kyoto autumn leaves is from late November to early December.

Lit up at night

When viewed from the Koyasu Pagoda, the stage itself stands out tastefully among the autumn colors. From November 18 – 30, 2022, there will be special evening hours so visitors can see the illuminated autumn leaves.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple
1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

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2. Tofukuji: A sea of maple leaves right before your eyes

Tofukuji is the main temple of the Tofukuji School of the Rinzai sect and boasts the largest temple hall in Kyoto. The name “Tofukuji” is a combination of the names of Nara’s Todaiji and Kofukuji temples. Many cultural properties have been preserved on the site, including the country’s oldest temple gate.

Maples begin to turn red in mid-November, and are at their best from late November to early December. Seen from Tofukuji’s Tsutenkyo Bridge, they look like a sea of red ​​clouds, giving viewers a heavenly perspective.

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