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Autumn Color in Japan 2009 Vol 20 / Cool Japanese Scene

COOL JAPANESE SCENE / Japanese Autumn Color (32) / Japanese Autumn Color (34)

Introduce Autumn Color in Kyoto Higashiyama Area.
The eastern part of Kyoto's city center is called Higashiyama, located at the west end of the Higashiyama Mountain Range.
As early as the middle of the 14th century, many shrines, temples and aristocrats' villas were built in this area, where a variety of architecture and gardens, artistic and cultural masterpieces such as paintings and crafts were created.
Many artistic activities such as 'ikebana' (flower arrangement), the tea ceremony and Noh performances flourished and developed in this area as well.
There are many masterpieces of historic architecture still in existence today, which attract many visitors and tourists from every corner of the world.


Leaves have not fully turned below Kiyomizudera's main balcony

Today I continued my exploration of the fall colours ("koyo") of Kyoto, this time investigating the leaves in some temples in the eastern part of the city. First off was Kiyomizudera, one of the most popular temples in all of Japan.
Unfortunately, the weather was not very good in the morning, and the koyo is not quite at its peak. There is a significant amount of colour, but it will take a few more days before the trees become really impressive.


Colour changing below Kiyomizudera's other balcony


Some of the best color at Kiyomizudera near the temple's exit

Next I headed to Kodaiji Temple, which is just a few minute's walk away. There are not as many trees at this temple as there are at Kiyomizudera, but the ones around the temple's main pond and the Garyoro ("reclining dragon corridor") are nearing their peak and are quite colorful. The maple trees around the temple's two storied tea house are still green, so will become attractive in a few days when they start to change color.


Koyo beside the pond at Kodaiji


Koyo beside the Goryoro, which arches up along the hill

I walked north from Kodaiji and when I got to Maruyama Park I hiked up a mountainside trail to Shogun-zuka, which has a couple of sightseeing platforms that give nice views onto the city below. There was also some of the day's best koyo, with a number of trees covered completely in vibrant red leaves.


Radiant red leaves at Shogun-zuka


Walking trails at Shogun-zuka surrounded by koyo


The view backwards from a sightseeing platform, onto Shogun-zuka's trails instead of the city

Nanzenji Temple is a rather large zen temple complex. The trails between the various temple buildings have a decent amount of koyo, but it should still improve over the next few days. Visitors can get a good view of the surrounding state of the autumn colors by climbing the Sanmon gate (500 yen).


A canopy of colour at Nanzenji


The view from the Sanmon gate in the direction of the main Nanzenji building

Nanzenji has a number of rock gardens, and they can become quite affected by the autumn colours. Though I visited the Nanzen-in garden and the gardens of the main Nanzen-ji building, the best gardens today were found at the Tenjuan (400 yen) just south of the Sanmon gate. There was a nice rock garden and another garden around a pond, and both had excellent koyo.


The view of the Tenjuan from the Sanmon gate


Inside Tenjuan, beside its rock garden

My last stop of the day was at Eikando, a temple complex that is a very popular spot for koyo. There were large crowds of eager sightseers looking for autumn colors. The colors did not disappoint, but they were not yet thrilling either. A lot of maple trees still had fully green trees, so I think that after a few days more it will become very impressive. There was also a bit of construction going on, which wasn't enough to be really bothersome but still took a bit from the atmosphere.


The view onto the Eikando complex from beside the temple's pagoda, with the city behind


Though colorful, still some green around the temple's pond


Koyo along the temple's paths, and its pagoda along the mountainside

Some of the best koyo at the complex was located just outside the entrance, hanging over the temple's walls. When the trees throughout the temple become as vibrant, I suspect the crowds will become even bigger.


Brilliant koyo hanging over the walls near the temple's entrance

By T.S. on Nov 23, 2009
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