In late November I had the chance to revisit Kyoto, a place I connect with many memories. In 2022, I lived there for half a year while undertaking an exchange at Kyoto University.

Besides Spring, Autumn is the most popular season to visit Kyoto — for good reason. The leaves change their colors to yellow and red and countless landscape gardens change their dresses before resting during the cold winter.

While I came to Kyoto this time to attend a conference, I found a bit of time to revisit and find new temples I did not know so far. Here is a list of scenic places I think have not been found by the typical Kyoto tourist yet.

(North) East

Sekizan Zenin

First, I visited this lesser known temple in the North East of Kyoto. Following the approach up the slope I entered the quite temple area in midst of maple trees and cherry trees that began to bloom a little bit. The climate these days…

Shimagamo Shrine

One of the oldest shrines of Kyoto emits spirituality. I always enjoy revisiting this place. It is best to approach from the South and pass through the Tadasu no Mori forest.

Shisen-dou temple

Close to Enkou-ji lies Shisen-dou temple, which I preferred because it was less busy in this season. From the veranda of this temple one could meditate in front of a dry landscape garden.

Nanzenji temple

Moving south, we visited Nanzenji near my former flat. It was very nostalgic to revisit this area in particular.

North West

Ninnaji temple

On another day, I visited a few shrines in the North West that I missed last year. In place of Kinkakuji or Ryoanji I explored Ninnaji temple, another historically important site with connections to the Imperial family.

The large park between the main buildings was worth a visit by its own.

Tojiin temple

My highlight on this day was actually Tojiin temple, located in a quite neighborhood near Ritsumeikan University. The temple and the garden both were beautiful and it was not busy at all.


Tenryuji temple

While I tried to avoid the popular spots, I could not help myself but visit Arashiyama anyways. By coming at 9 am I could evade the crowds to a fair degree and started right off at popular Tenryuji temple.

Hogon-in temple

A few steps further lies Hogon-in temple, that is famous for its garden.

Okochi Sanso Garden

Beyond the infamous bamboo path is a garden that attracts less attention because of its hefty 1000 yen entrance fee. But it is definitely worth entering! Show me a more tranquil place to enjoy nature and overlook Kyoto.

I hope this list motivates you to enjoy a new side of Kyoto. Another tip: avoid buses, take the subway instead and walk a lot.

Fall Colors in Kyoto
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