It's Autumn in Kyoto, Which Means It's Time for ‘Leaf-Peeping’ Season


Nighttime lanterns at Arashiyama, Kyoto (日本京都-嵐山夜燈) by Flickr user Keiko Shih.

Every fall, every hillside in Japan comes alive with koyo (紅葉), or autumn foliage. Fall “leaf-peeping” is a longstanding tradition in Japan — so much so that the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) publishes a “national guide to autumn leaves,” explaining where and exactly what time to see the best foliage in every corner of Japan.

タノシカッタ #嵐山 #天龍寺 #着物

A photo posted by 菅井 剛 (@go.0128) on

I had fun today. #arashiyama #Tenryuji #kimono

As a tourist destination, Kyoto typically tops the list of leaf-peeping destinations in Japan. The city, formerly the capital of Japan, is surrounded by hills and forests, and there is quite a lot to see in just about every direction. As a result, every fall there is a torrent of fall-foliage posts on Twitter and Instagram.

Arashiyama, on the western outskirts of Kyoto, is considered one of Japan's must-see places for fall foliage. Many people from outside of Kyoto and from outside of Japan will immediately recognize the bamboo forest of Sagano, in Arashiyama.

#bambooforest #arashiyama #kyotojapan #beautifulkyoto #travelgram

A photo posted by Anri Yamazu (@anrikyoto) on

The bridge over the Ōi River in Arashiyama is another iconic tourist spot. Every fall, the Togetsukyō bridge becomes crammed with visitors hoping for the perfect snapshot.

You're the sky~ Everything else is just the weather ☁⛄ #deep #ladyaniatravelog #shizukagoingsolo #kyoto⛩ #arashiyama #japan

A photo posted by 《Nuraina Abdul Majid》 (@lady_ania) on

The hills above Arashiyama provide both a spectacular view of the fall foliage as well as Kyoto to the east. Here is a view from Okochi Mountain Villa (大河内山荘 Ōkōchi Sansō).

Tenryū Temple (天龍寺, Tenryū-ji) is also a popular sightseeing stop in Arashiyama. This 14th Century Zen temple is noted for its gardens and its fall foliage:

京都 嵯峨野 清凉寺 11月中旬の紅葉その8 清凉寺の弁天堂 #京都紅葉 #清凉寺 #銀杏 #嵯峨野 #canon

A photo posted by Hiroshi Noguchi (@noguchibiyousitu) on

Fall foliage in mid-November at Tenryū Temple in Arashiyama.

京都 嵯峨野 清凉寺 11月中旬の紅葉その9 清凉寺の弁天堂 #京都紅葉 #清凉寺 #銀杏 #嵯峨野 #canon

A photo posted by Hiroshi Noguchi (@noguchibiyousitu) on

Fall foliage in mid-November at Tenryū Temple in Arashiyama.

Fall foliage in mid-November at Tenryū Temple in Arashiyama.

Grilled dango rice dumplings are favorite fall treat Arashiyama.

It's the best walking around Arashiyama while eating mitarashi dango (rice dumplings in sweetened soy sauce) on a stick.

At the close of one day spent in Arashiyama, one Twitter user has captured the quintessential autumn flower of Japan, the Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus), the “cherry blossom of autumn” (アキザクラ, aki no sakura).

“Mackerel sky” in autumn.

To more fall foliage photos of Kyoto and Arashiyama, follow the Instagram hashtags #京都 anf #嵐山.

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