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Sunday, 30th November 2014
In Events In Japan,

Kiyomizudera temple illuminated for fall

Across Japan, the trees are blazing into warm colours as the autumn arrives, transforming landscapes into a fiery atmosphere that contrasts sharply with in chillier weather. Kiyomizudera temple is among those celebrating this very special time of year. The place of worship, located in Kyoto, has had more than 500 lights strategically placed around the 1,000 maple trees located in the garden, and it look incredible.

It's an annual tradition at the temple, and indeed throughout the entirety of the country, with the locals treating it with almost as much reverence at the yearly hanami sessions in the spring when the cherry blossoms bloom. People follow daily reports on where the leaves are turning, with popular places to view them including Daisetsuzan National Park in Hokkaido where the leaves are the first to turn, all the way up to Kamakura where the trees stay vibrant all the way into mid-December. 

So to reflect the seasonal activity of koyo, we have prepared a list of popular places to spy on the autumn colours just in case you're caught off guard.


The capital doesn't generally get the autumn colours until relatively late in the year - November at the earliest. However, while they certainly take their sweet time, they are incredible when they do arrive. Rikugien, one of the nicest landscape gardens in Tokyo, is perhaps one of the best spots. It's open for special illuminations during the peak of the season, similar to Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto. Similarly, Ginkgo Avenue is pretty awe-inspiring, as is Koishikawa Korakuen, which is often regarded as the capital's best landscape garden.

Around Tokyo

If you're in Tokyo for a limited time only and can't wait for the autumn colours, then you can find huge success outside the city itself. Nikko, for example, one of the most popular day trip locations outside of the capital, gets the vibrant colours from early October to mid November. Oze, a national park around 100 kilometres north of Tokyo, gets them even earlier - late September to mid October.


The former capital has a long tradition of celebration the autumn colours, largely because it is nestled between wooded mountains. Arashiyama, home of the stellar bamboo forest, transforms from late November to early December and looks drop-dead gorgeous, while the aforementioned Kiyomizudera is most definitely worth checking out during the same period. If you're visiting Kyoto during the earlier part of the season, you're out of luck - the tress don't start turning here until mid November.


If you're lucky to be in Tohoku for Koyo, head directly to the Hachimantai mountains. Some of the best colours can be found here, with good spots including Mount Hachimantai, Goshogake Onsen with the nearby Onuma Pond, Tamagawa Onsen and Nyuto Onsen. Other locations include Naruko Gorge, Lake Towada and the Oirase stream and Urabandai. Tohoku is a lucky place indeed - it starts getting the colours in early October and they continue all the way to the end of November.