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Planning an Autumn Trip to Kyoto? 5 Things to Know Before Packing Your Travel Bag!

Planning an Autumn Trip to Kyoto? 5 Things to Know Before Packing Your Travel Bag!

Date published: 22 June 2020
Last updated: 2 October 2020

Between the humidity of summer and the cold of winter, Kyoto City’s pleasant autumn weather is much-anticipated by locals eager to get back outdoors. Along with its mountainous surroundings, the city’s seemingly infinite array of temples and shrines in lush forests and parks provides breathtaking amber fall scenery!

From the beginning of November until early December, bright red maple leaves and dazzling golden ginkgo trees illuminate the region in a fiery display of mesmerizing patterns. Frequent days of fine weather make it an ideal time to spend the day outdoors snapping photos and soaking in nature!

Top image: Visun Khankasem / Shutterstock.com

Table of Contents
  1. What is Kyoto Like in Autumn?
  2. Kyoto Autumn Sightseeing Tips and Tricks! Local Know-how from Kansai Residents!
  3. 1. Protect Yourself Against Kyoto’s November Sunshine
  4. 2. Wear Good Sneakers for Long Walks and Uneven Paths
  5. 3. Combat Temperature Changes with Layers!
  6. 4. Be Wary of Crowds - Foliage Fans are Everywhere!
  7. 5. Enjoy the Night-Time Illuminations – But Don’t Catch a Cold!
  8. Best Places to See Autumn Leaves in Kyoto:
  9. Rakuhoku Area
  10. Rakuchuu Area
  11. Rakutou Area
  12. Rakusei Area
  13. Rakunan Area
  14. Book an unforgettable experience in fall in Kyoto!

What is Kyoto Like in Autumn?

What is Kyoto Like in Autumn?

Kyoto’s south, which holds the renowned Nanzen-ji Temple and Yasaka Shrine, experiences chilly November weather with average highs of 17°C and lows of 7.8°C (Japanese Meteorological Agency 1981-2010 Yearly Averages Report). While the final third of the month is traditionally colder, particularly during mornings and evenings, recent trends have seen an increase in tamer winters.

Pleasant, sunny days are frequent, allowing you to stretch your legs with long walks while admiring the stunning scenery.

Northern Kyoto, home to the famous Amanohashidate and Fukuchiyama Castle Park, is colder than the southern parts, speeding up the appearance of fall colors by a week. Of course, all these trends are bound to change, so definitely search for the most current information before heading out!

Kyoto Autumn Sightseeing Tips and Tricks! Local Know-how from Kansai Residents!

1. Protect Yourself Against Kyoto’s November Sunshine

1. Protect Yourself Against Kyoto’s November Sunshine

During peak fall time in Kyoto, the numerous cloudless days beget harsh rays of sun. Naturally, when enjoying the outdoor autumn foliage, you’ll bear the brunt of it, so a trusty hat is an absolute essential! While a parasol will help, it can get in the way when taking photos, which is why passionate photographers tend to opt for hats along with shoulder bags or backpacks instead!

2. Wear Good Sneakers for Long Walks and Uneven Paths

2. Wear Good Sneakers for Long Walks and Uneven Paths

The best places to see fall foliage are in mountains and temples, which often means large distances and lengthy walks. Uneven mountain tracks, gravel paths, and other places not meant for casual walking necessitate socks and a sturdy pair of sneakers. No matter how good you look in high-heels, it’s just not worth the pain!

3. Combat Temperature Changes with Layers!

3. Combat Temperature Changes with Layers!

For early November, a thick sweater over a shirt or light jacket over a blouse is perfect, while the extra cold from mid-November will necessitate a thicker jacket or coat. While recent years haven’t seen particularly cold winters, the full brunt of the cold will generally come as early as December, so be prepared! That said, many days experience drastic temperature change, so wearing clothes you can easily take on and off is most recommended!

4. Be Wary of Crowds - Foliage Fans are Everywhere!

4. Be Wary of Crowds - Foliage Fans are Everywhere!

To celebrate the beauty of autumn, foliage festivals are held at many of Kyoto’s temples and shrines. Pop up tea rooms, stalls, music, and other fun activities and events are eagerly anticipated by locals and tourists alike. Crowds will be intense, so take extra care not to forget your mask! If you have any pollen allergies, best to be cautious to avoid any nasty reaction.

5. Enjoy the Night-Time Illuminations – But Don’t Catch a Cold!

5. Enjoy the Night-Time Illuminations – But Don’t Catch a Cold!
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

As it gets closer to late autumn, sunset arrives sooner and nights get longer. There are lots of temples and shrines who hold special light-up events during this time, allowing visitors to take in a completely new scene from the daytime. However, evenings and nights are particularly chilly, so definitely put on a thick sweater and warm jacket before heading out! With the right clothes, you can take in the autumn leaves at night without any regrets the next day!

Many tourist attractions also have a restaurant serving a special autumn dinner. Book in advance so you can add delicious Kyoto cuisine to your trip’s itinerary!

Best Places to See Autumn Leaves in Kyoto:

Rakuhoku Area

- Kifune Shrine
- Sanzen-in Temple
- Hosen-in Temple

Rakuchuu Area

- Kyoto Gyoen National Garden
- Nijo Castle
- Kitano-temmangu Shrine

Rakutou Area

- The Philosopher’s Walk
- Honen-in Temple
- Eikan-do Temple
- Nanzen-ji Temple

  • Honen-in Temple
    • Address 30, Shishigatanigoshonodancho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 606-8422
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Demachiyanagi Station (Eizan Dentetsu Eizan Line)
      11 minutes by bus
    • Phone Number 075-771-2420

Rakusei Area

- Arashiyama
- Togetsu-kyō
- Tenryuji Temple
- Ryōan-ji

Rakunan Area

- Tofukuji Temple
- Sennyuji Temple
- Jonangu Shrine

Whether it be in the mountains or the middle of the city, Kyoto is packed with brilliant fall sightseeing spots! While the mild weather of autumn allows you to enjoy these sights comfortably, it’s important to prepare your suitcase for any drastic temperature changes!

To adjust accordingly, bring layers of clothes that can be easily added or taken off when needed, such as a scarf and jacket. Once you’ve checked all the boxes, you’ll be ready to comfortably enjoy the breathtaking elegance of the ancient capital’s renowned fall foliage!

You can even revisit these locations in other seasons, such as during the blooming of the cherry blossoms in spring or when summer’s fresh new leaves arrive to see another, equally stunning side to the ever-beautiful Kyoto.

Written by:

WESTPLAN

WESTPLAN

Kiko Matsuda, Keiko Kimura, Risa Tsuji, and a team of female writers familiar with Kansai. We love eating, drinking and traveling! We share fun information based on our experiences.

Book an unforgettable experience in fall in Kyoto!

Make your trip extra memorable by booking one of these recommended experiences on our partner site, Voyagin!

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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