Kyoto Koyo – Autumn Leaves in Arashiyama

Kyoto Koyo is one of the most amazing natural experiences I’ve ever had in Japan and yet I never really knew about it. My friend Alice and I kept trying to plan a vacation together while I was in Tokyo so we decided to go to Osaka, but most every hotel under $300 a night was booked and everything was completely sold out on weekends. I’ve traveled Japan during Golden Week and Sakura season, but nothing prepared me for Koyo!

Koyo (紅葉 こうよう Kouyou but usually romanized as Koyo) means autumn leaves. Kyoto Koyo is a spectacle and one of the biggest tourist draws.

Unlike sakura every country has autumn leaves and the changes are wonderful, but what is striking about Japan is the red maple or もみじ/momiji. Momiji is so blistering red that they look hyperreal and almost fake. November Kyoto was wonderful sunny chilly weather to hike around the mountains and hills of Arashiyama (previous post).

All these photos were taken at Tenryu-ji (天龍寺) in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Tenryu-ji is a UNESCO World Heritage site and considered one of the temples in Kyoto. Admission was 600yen and it’s considered one of the best spots in all of Japan to experience Koyo.

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Tenryu-ji is a zen temple and well known for its water feature (above) and garden.

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Against the pale and forest greens the red is just so shocking.

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kyoto-koyo-kimono-girl

A lot of young couples were dressed up in traditional kimono for their Koyo pictures. As I’ve said before about Arashiyama, it’s the place Japanese go to get their “wa” filled tourist on.

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The entrance to the shrine was very packed, but after I got through the gates it didn’t feel packed.

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In order to get to the burning red maple, Momiji change to this pretty burnt yellow hue first.

Fall and Spring are my favorite times to visit Japan and I just got another reason why. Isn’t Kyoto Koyo amazing?

If you’re planning a fall trip to Japan, I really recommend going to see the koyo especially the Kyoto koyo. Koyo Walker (http://koyo.walkerplus.com/) is an excellent site like its sister Hanami Walker that provides region-by-region daily updates on peak koyo viewing times.

This is part one of my Kyoto Koyo travel report. My next one features a tea room in natural settings and a climb around a Japanese garden.

As usual I like to discuss how much I spent on a travel day in Japan. I was already in Kyoto but had to use the subways which wasn’t covered in my Japan Rail Pass. That was 500 yen. My garden entrance and temple entrance fees were 1,600 yen in total. My big splurge traditional Kyoto meal (post later) was 1,700. I also got some traditional Kyoto sweet snacks for 600 yen. I had breads for dinner and a tea which was 1,000 yen.

So transport: 500 yen
Tourist fees: 1,600 yen
Meals: 3,200

So even with my splurge meal I spent only 5,300 or $52.00 for the day not including Rail Pass and Hotel.

Again one of my more expensive days in Japan and yet not so expensive.

9 Comments

  1. February 17, 2014 / 4:30 pm

    Ah~ Amazing photos! I have to go see the koyo someday. I’ve been to Kyoto in october, but sadly that was a bit early för the really astonishing autumncolours.

    • Mitsu
      February 18, 2014 / 10:28 am

      It’s usually November that gets really good. Couldn’t believe how hard it was to get a hotel though :)

  2. michela
    February 18, 2014 / 1:11 am

    Wonderful *.*

    • Mitsu
      February 18, 2014 / 10:28 am

      I agree :)

  3. February 18, 2014 / 7:35 am

    everything is so pretty, it looks like a painting ^^

    • Mitsu
      February 18, 2014 / 10:28 am

      Yea, almost fake right? So cool :)

  4. February 18, 2014 / 11:26 am

    Ohhh, Kyoto Kouyou warms my heart <3

  5. February 21, 2014 / 4:02 am

    The red leaves are just so vibrant. Simply stunning!

  6. February 22, 2014 / 9:53 am

    The red leaves look so pretty! I love autumn leaves <3

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