Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto?

Where to view autumn leaves in Japan Kyoto

Fall season is one of the most beautiful seasons in Japan. Each year, starting in mid September, leaves start to turn yellow and red across the whole Japan. The viewing of Autumn leaves is called Momijigari (紅葉狩り) in Japanese. If you enjoy seeing the changing of colors and the cooling weather, Autumn in Japan is definitely your cup of tea. In this post, I’m going to share with you where to view autumn leaves in Japan Kyoto.

When is the best time to go?

Starting from mid September to early December, the autumn foliage slowly moves southwards from the northern island of Hokkaido until it reaches the lower elevations of central and southern Japan. The average time for appearing autumn foliage may vary depending on temperatures. You should always be mindful of the fall foliage forecast.

Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto temple

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What you will get to see?

During this koyo (autumn colors) season, the nature starts changing on its own way. Leaves of the deciduous trees on the mountains slopes, valleys, river sides, and country roads including the grounds of shrines, temples, parks, public gardens all turn red, orange, yellow and brown colors.

Just like watching Sakura blossom, the custom of hunting for autumn foliage (Momijigari) had been practicing since a long time ago. Now, it is a popular thing to do for the Japanese as well as for foreign tourists.

Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto red

Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto (京都)?

During my exchange in Japan, I particularly enjoyed going to Kyoto to view the autumn leaves. Kyoto is the most historical place in Japan with many beautiful temples. The ancient architectures, coupled with the red autumn leaves, you’ll feel like you are travelling back in time.

Below is the must see attractions in Kyoto that offers beautiful Momijigari.

Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto – Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺)

Kiyomizu-dera Temple is one of Japan’s most famous attractions in the historic city of Kyoto. With a history of more than 1200 years and listed a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, you can say it is a MUST-VISIT. However, do prepare yourself for the crowd, especially during Koyo season.

Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto kiyomitsu

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Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto – Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺)

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto. It’s famous for the pavilion which top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuonji, Kinkaku-ji is an impressive structure built overlooking a large pond. There’s no better way to enjoy the autumn leaves with a breathtaking view like this.

Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto Kinkaku-ji

Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto – Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社)

Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head shrine of Inari. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari which is 233 metres above sea level, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4 kilometers. It takes approximately 2 hours to walk up. Along the way up, you’ll be able to enjoy watching the beautiful autumn leaves as well.

Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto

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Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto – Arashiyama (嵐山)

Arashiyama is a pleasant, touristy district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons. When you are there, check out the bamboo groves too. It’s a super photo spot. Visit there during the early morning to avoid the crowd.

Where to view Autumn Leaves in Japan Kyoto close up

I hope you find this post useful. Enjoy watching autumn leaves in Japan Kyoto! If you’ve been to Kyoto before, comment below and share with us your experience too. Happy travels!


  • Elaine J Masters

    I hadn’t heard of this formally named pastime but have been in Japan for at least part of the Cherry Blossom season. It’s wonderful to follow these natural transitions. Lovely post and I hope to visit again during the autumn.

  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple would be the first on my list to visit! I love the vibrant color of the red autumn leaves as it contrasts with the ancient architecture. Are tours available? This guide will be helpful when planning.

    • I’m pretty sure Japan is convenient to explore by yourself if you do proper plannings in advance. 🙂 I’m not sure about tours, but having a guide is very helpful who knows the history well.

  • I’ve been to Kyoto too (although in the spring, when I saw cherry blossoms rather than autumn leaves) and I was totally awed by the city! Awesome post!

  • Mike C

    The colours on display in Kyoto in Autumn are fabulous. I love landscape photography and Autumn is possibly my favourite time of year to photograph, because of the amazing range of colours. I’d love to visit Japan and photograph the dramatic landscapes.

    • It’s really beautiful. An amateur like me also can take good photos. I’m sure your photos will look fabulous!

  • megan_claire

    Incredible! I’ve been tossing up whether to visit Kyoto in Autumn or Spring, because even though I want to see the Cherry blossoms, fall seems to be even more beautiful with many incredible shades of orange and red 🙂 Maybe I’ll have to plan two trips!

    • You are right! Two trips sound perfect to me. I’m planning another one to catch cheery blossom. 🙂