Highlights of autumn in Japan’s Kyoto
Japan’s love of passing seasons is most striking in its former capital: while many visitors want to see cherry blossoms here, autumn leaves last longer and bring deeper colour to Kyoto’s hills DQG WHPSOH JDUGHQV ,Q WKLV JXLGH \RX·OO ÀQG traditional activi
SIGHTS Eikan-do ££ (eikando.or.jp) Perhaps Kyoto’s most famous (and most crowded) autumn foliage destination, Eikan-do is a superb temple made interesting by its varied architecture, its gardens and its works of ar t. Kiyomizu-dera £ (kiyomizudera.or.jp) A hive of activ ity perched on a hill, this is one of Kyoto’s most popular and enjoyable temples, w ith a legendar y terrace on stilts overlooking the cit y. Note that the Main Hall is currently being restored, though is still accessible. Check the website for the scheduling of special night-time illuminations of the temple held in the autumn and the spring. Koto-in £ (73-1 Daitokuji-cho) On the far western edge of the Daitoku-ji temple complex, the sublime garden of this subtemple is one of the best in Kyoto and it’s worth a special trip. It’s located within a bamboo grove that you traverse via a moss-lined path. Once inside there is a small garden that leads to the centrepiece: a rectangle of moss and maple trees, backed by bamboo. Rest on the veranda here to soak it all up. Path of Philosophy (Tetsugaku-no-Michi) The Tetsugaku-no-Michi is one of the most pleasant walks in all of Kyoto. Lined with a great variety RI ÁRZHULQJ SODQWV DQG WUHHV LW LV a corridor of colour throughout most of the year. Though it’s most famous for its spring-blooming cherry trees, the path is also lovely in autumn. It only takes 30 minutes to do the walk, from Nyakuoji-bashi, above Eikan-do, to Ginkaku-ji. The path takes its name from one of its most famous strollers: the 20th-century philosopher Nishida Kitaro. ACTIVITIES Camellia Tea Experience £££ (tea-kyoto.com; 349 Masuya-cho) Camellia is a superb place to tr y a simple Japanese tea ceremony. It ’s located in a beautiful old KRXVH MXVW RՖ 1LQHQ ]DND 7 KH KRVW VSHDNV ÁXHQW (QJOLVK DQG explains the ceremony simply and clearly, while managing to perform an elegant ceremony. T he price includes a bowl of matcha and a sweet. Funaoka Onsen £ (funaokaonsen.info; 82-1 MinamiFunaoka-cho-Murasakino) T his old bath is Kyoto’s best. It has an outdoor bath, a sauna, a cy press-wood tub, an electric bath and a herbal bath. To get here, head west about 400m on Kuramaguchi-dori from the Kuramaguchi and Horiikawa intersection. It ’s on the lef t, not far past Lawson convenience store. Look for the large rocks. Hozu-gawa River Trip £££ (hozugawakudari.jp) 7KH +R]X JDZD ULYHU WULS LV D great way to enjoy the beauty of Kyoto’s western mountains. BoatPHQ VWHHU ÁDW ERWWRP ERDWV GRZQ WKH +R]X JDZD ULYHU IURP .DPHRka, 12 miles west of Kyoto Station, through mountain canyons, before arriving at Arashiyama. The ride lasts two hours through occasional sections of choppy water. The scenery is especially attractive during maple-foliage season in autumn. EATING Honke Owariya SOBA £ (honke-owariya.co.jp; 322 Kurumaya-cho) Set in an old sweet shop in a traditional Japanese building on a quiet downtown street, this is where locals come for excellent soba (buckwheat noodle) dishes. The highly recommended house speciality, hourai soba, comes ZLWK D VWDFN RI ÀYH VPDOO SODWHV RI soba with a selection of toppings, including shiitake mushrooms, shrimp tempura, thin slices of omelette and sesame seeds. Shigetsu VEGETARIAN ££ (tenryuji.com; 68 Susukinobabacho, Saga Tenryu-ji) To sample shojin-r yori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine), tr y Shigetsu in the precincts of Tenr y u-ji. T his healthy fare has been sustaining monks for more than a thousand years in Japan, so it w ill probably get you through an af ternoon of sightseeing, though carnivores may be lef t crav ing something. Shigetsu has beautiful garden v iews. Yoshikawa TEMPURA £££ (kyoto-yoshikawa.co.jp; 135 Matsushita-cho) This is the place for tempura. Attached to Yoshikawa ryokan, it RՖHUV WDEOH VHDWLQJ EXW LW·V PRUH interesting to eat around the counter and observe the chefs at ZRUN ,W·V QHDU 2LNH GRUL LQ D ÀQH traditional Japanese-style building. Reservation is required for tatami-mat room.
Kiyomizu-dera’s pagoda blending with autumn reds