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5 Great temples for observing autumn light up in Kyoto 2018

​This week, I will stay at the topic concerning about autumn leaves in Japan, but this time, the story would be focused about the former capital of Japan. Yes, it is the city of Kyoto, Kansai Region, Japan!

Currently, there are around 1,600 Buddhist temples registered alone in the vicinity of Kyoto City, so choosing proper temples to visit is a bit challenging. Therefore, I would like to introduce 5 great temples for oversea visitors to visit this autumn!

Among 5 temples which introduced in this blog are all famous and each has a unique activity known as "Autumn Light up" to show the beauty of autumn in the temple area for visitors both local and foreign alike. Moreover, the light up events are normally hold up during autumn and spring season, so if you have a plan to visit Kyoto during this autumn, don't miss those mentioned temples!







Kiyomizu-Dera is one of the most famous temples in Japan and considered to be one of the top destinations in Japan. The temple is widely known for a wooden balcony made several hundred years ago with 3 flows of water believed to grant the drinker a healthy body, good luck in love and pass the examinations (One must choose only 1 wish at a time).

The light up event for this year starts from 17 November to 2 December 2018 with opening time at 6:30-9:00 PM plus an additional charge from the entry of main hall at 400 Yen per person.

*Please noted that the wooden balcony is being under restoration and a large scaffold structure will cover the entire main hall, however, visitors are still allowed to see the inside of the main hall as usual while the process of restoration is estimated to completed by the year 2020.

How to get there: There are many ways to reach this famous temple, the following options are all easy for foreigners 
1.Catch the bus No 100 or 206 and get off at Gojo-ZakaorKiyomizu-Michi bus stop and walk uphill for another 10-15 minutes 
2.Takes Keihan train (Not JR) and get off at Kiyomizu-Gojo Station then follow the sign and walk uphill for 20 minutes 
3.Taking a taxi is another choice if you comes in a group of 3-4 people, the cost depends on the traffic congestion level but normally it will cost around 1,000-1,500 Yen one way from JR Kyoto Station where taxi stand is located in front of the main entrance (The earlier you come, the less traffic jam you will encounter and thus saves your wallet as well)


The temple used to be called Zenrin-ji in the past but now the temple is widely known as Eikando and it is considered one of the greatest spots to see the red color of the autumn leaves. The temple's history can trace back to around Heian Period (1,200 years ago) when a Japanese emperor gave his own private villa for Buddhist monks to practice the ritual and thus the villa has gradually transformed into the temple complex. During 11th century, the head priest named Eikan received a buddha image which the head part can be turned and there was a legend that one day when Eikan was praying in the temple, that buddha image turned its head and talk to Eikan thus the tale has spread through the city and some people started to call this temple "Eikan-do" eversince.

The area of this temple is very calm and has many praying halls in the premise including a two-storey pagoda called Tahoto Pagoda with a unique shape of square on the first floor and circular shape on the second floor. Visitors can climb the stairs to see a panoramic views from the pagoda, the view is fabulous when the maple leaves are all turn red. Moreover, the temple also has Japanese garden with a pond to walk around and intimate with the mother natures.

For light up event, the temple will commenced this activity from 3 November until 2 December 2018 with the operating time from 5:30-9:00 PM. The additional cost to enter the light up zone is 600 Yen per person.

How to get there: Please see below 
1.Take Kyoto Metro(Tozai Line) toKeage Station and walks about 20 minutes (If coming from Kyoto Station, you must change the metro line at Karasuma-Oike Station) 
2.Hop on Kyoto Bus No. 5 from JR Kyoto Station and get off atNanzenji-Eikando-michibus stop (40 minutes ride)


​Nanzen-ji is another famous temple in Kyoto city, the history of this gigantic temple dates back to 13th century when Emperor Kameyama built his palace around the temples' present area but later on, the emperor changed his mind and donated his palace to Buddhist monks and turn it into temple. Since then, the temple has seen many conflicts between various warlords and luckily most of the structures survive those war to the present time.

The temple has a large area to explore starts from Sanmon, an old wooden gate constructed in 1628 and still standing today is the first glimpse of the greatness of the temple while inside the premise, there are many Buddhist praying halls including Japanese garden which opens to visitors to take a stroll freely. However, there is a structure that you will rarely seen in Japan and that is "aqueduct" built in Taisho Period (about 100 years ago) with the purpose of extracting fresh water from lake Biwa to fill up in the Kyoto's city canal system at the old time and some part of the aqueduct has been constructed in the area of Nanzen-ji too.

For the light up activity, the temple will open its door to visitors from 15-30 November 2018 around 5:30-9:00 PM at the area called Tenjuan which is a sub temple of Nanzen-ji located adjacent to the main temple with an additional cost of 600 Yen per person apart from other entrance fee of this temple.

How to get there : Same as Eikando! 
1.Take Kyoto Metro (Tozai Line) toKeage Station and walks another 20 minutes (If coming from Kyoto Station, you must change the metro line at Karasuma-Oike Station) 
2.Hop on Kyoto Bus No. 5 from JR Kyoto Station and get off atNanzenji-Eikando-michibus stop (40 minutes ride)


Kodaiji has been built since 1606 by the order of Nene, wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi to commemorated the soul of her fallen husband who later regarded as 1 of 3 greatest warlords of Japan.

The temple's ground is carefully built with many halls to pray for Toyotomi's spirit and also has a nice Japanese garden to observe the seclusion while the inner area also has 2 small teahouses which designed by Senno Rikyu, a master of tea ceremony, favored by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the temple also has a "mini" bamboo groves to greet any visitors who seek some temple stroll as well.

The temple also has a light up activity, starts from 19 October to 9 December 2018 with the opening time stated by temple only "after sunset until 10 PM" with an additional entrance fee of 600 Yen per person.

How to get there: There are 2 ways to reach the temple with ease : 
1. From Kyoto Station, hop on a bus no 100 or 206 (20 minutes ride) then get off at Higashiyama Yasui bus stop and walk for 10 minutes 
2. The temple is located with a walkable distance from Kiyomizu-Dera, take Ninenzaka and Zannenzaka to reach Kodaiji.


Chion-in is one of a large temples in Kyoto city, it is the head temple of Buddhism in Jodo Sect with millions of disciples in Japan. Visitors will see the wooden gate called Sanmon as the first sight of this temple, the gate has been recorded as the largest wooden gate in Japan at present and aged more than 400 years old, after venturing through the gate, a stone stair will lead visitors to prayer hall while the main one called "Miedo" is still under restoration with scaffold building covers the original structure. However, Amidado Hall is open as usual and it is the place where Amitabha statue, a celestial buddha according to Mahayana Buddhism believes, is located. However, if you are not interested in those religious matters, a temple with a pond is also a good alternative to stay away from the crowds or you can even climb up stone stairs behind the Miedo Hall to the hill and see the panoramic view of the temple!

For light up in autumn, the temple will open its door to visitors to observe the autumn color from 2 November until 2 December 2018 with an additional charge at 800 Yen per person.

How to get there : there are easy ways to reach here 
1.Take Kyoto MetroTozai Line toHigashi Yama Station and walks another 10 minutes (If coming from Kyoto Station, you must change the metro line at Karasuma-Oike Station) 
2.Hop on a bus No 206 from JR Kyoto Station and get off at Chionin-mae bus stop plus 5 minutes walk to reach the Sanmon

​That was all 5 great temples that I would like everyone to visit if you have any plan to see autumn in Kyoto this year ^^ and before the end of this blog, I would like to introduce the local travel agent who specializes in creating a private tour to Japan, If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact them. Have a nice autumn this year in Japan, cheers!

​Source and data from japan-guide

Cover photos from Genkimobile

Pictures taken from jpinfo, mainichi, zekkeijapan, travelcaffeine, visitbeautifuljapan, indiamonuments, buffalotrip, fastjapan, sharingkyoto

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