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.


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


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



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.



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







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 ( 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.

Part two of pictures from the grand floor opening in Kyoto Avanti (in Kyoto of course).

In these shots there’s some more shops and then then pictures of the big opening event. The event was obviously planned before the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, but they tried their best to celebrate and raise money.

Glad News shop staff.

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I’ve been to Kyoto twice previously but both times I was doing what –Japanese and foriegn– tourists do in Kyoto, they go to temples and stay at ryokan. However, my main goal for that vacation was to see gal where I hadn’t seen it before so I went to to Kyoto for 4 hours and hung out at the nearby gal mall.

Kyoto Avanti ( is a mostly gal mall connected to the central Kyoto train station by an underground tunnel. I was lucky enough to come the day of its renewal and opening of several new gal floors (as you’ll see by the grand opening bouquets)

Straight out the central station you'll walk to the left and see the underground passage

Which saves you from having to walk the busy street to this monster.

Their grand opening image.

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New look for the Doll. I hope to tweak it more, but I’m absolutely pathetic when it comes to coding. ^_^;;

The current window display of a Gucci store in Shinjuku

High + Low + Everywhere

It’s very common to see gals carry brand bags. While other brand is not thought of as much, brand bags are very popular. Boys tend to buy them for their girlfriends on birthdays, anniversaries or Christmas. Tokyo and other big cities have a large resale market (although fakes do exist), many of my Japanese friends admit to buying resale to stay cheap or from getting their brand from their boyfriends. Egg last year’s Christmas survey said most were asking for a bag from their boyfriends. A professor at my school said Japanese high brand stores often ignore Japanese women going into shop since they are only looking and will not buy for themselves.

Ever since arriving in 1978 and transforming itself during the boom era of the 1980s, Vuitton is a very strong brand in Japan. Currently the Japanese account for 55% of Louis Vuitton sales. If you’re curious, I suggest this great book: Louis Vuitton Japan: The Building of Luxury.

I find the percentage slightly amusing, since many Japanese and Koreans look to go to Guam or Hawaii for the cheaper luxury goods (as I said earlier in my heading to Japan entry). Luxury houses based on regional currency fluctuations against Europe tend to price their goods lower in certain markets and higher in others. Currently Japan and Korea are the most expensive places to buy brand.

While Vuitton reigns supreme, there are several medium brands that are edging into the market. Much as I hate to admit it, Kitson’s sparkle bags are roaming Tokyo ever since they opened up their store in La Foret in Harajuku. I personally think most are hideous, but they’re really taken off with gals.

A gal couple in Kyoto. Her with her sparkle Kitson bag.

Also, just like in the mainstream Western media, Japanese are picking up on the high-low trend. Blenda, Nuts, Jelly and Ageha use American/British celeb style to showcase 109 + brand (most as bags). Ageha is a totally different story (more in the Agejo FAQ), but high brand is definitely in right now for gals.

Mitsu’s Bag Check

This was asked by malignita, and I have been meaning to do this ^_^;;

I am a big brand whore. I thoroughly admit I lust over Chanel and Louis Vuitton like it was made out of strawberries, champagne and orgasms. This is not my whole collection. I also like the jewelry and sunnies, but I’ve been collecting for a very long while.

Everyday Mitsu
My beloved 2.55 Chanel classic jumbo.
A Christmas present from my man in 2007. It’s my everyday bag when I’m not in school..
1. Lip Service digicam case with Cybershot Power Kitty inside
2. Chanel Compact done by Glam Baby
3. MAC new lipgloss
4. Pillcase done by Bling Me
5. DECO lighter
6. Comb
7. free tissues featuring Momoeri and Sakurina
8. Louis Vuitton Indigo Vernis Cles – my train/bus pass holder
9. Clorets gum
10. AU replacement phone
11. Louis Vuitton Indigo Vernis wallet – my credit card and ID wallet
12. Yen wallet – Louis Vuitton Perforation Line Limited Edition 2005
13. Louis Vuitton Indigo Vernis agenda – point cards, purikura and sched
School Mitsu
Louis Vuitton Damier Graphite messanger
My messenger was bought in Guam <3
Nyampire was a present, me and 2 other friends carry them <3
All the stuff shown earlier and…
School notebook bought from LoFt
Eraseable Pilot pen
Chanel sunnies
Hello Kitty Calculator done by Bling Me
Eco World Dell Mini laptop