Kyoto Covered in Red & Yellow

Kyoto Covered in Red & Yellow

Anissa Ratna Putri

Living in one of the most beautiful places in Japan, I was curious to explore the beauty of momiji (maple leaves) in Kyoto. Since I was born and raised in a tropical country, it was my very first autumn experience. I did some browsing for an excellent place nearby to enjoy momiji, and there are three interesting spots that pop-up: Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Genkoan Temple, and Nanzen-ji Temple.

1. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine


The next day after browsing, I rode my bike to Kitano Tenmangu first. Kitano Tenmangu is usually opened for free, but on autumn they have a special garden with a cost of ¥700. The first impression when I entered the garden: ah, it’s still green! Mid of November apparently was too early to enjoy momiji here. But still, I found some beautiful red in the middle of greenies. And momiji in green is beautiful too!

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In contrast to greenies that still exist in most of the part of the garden, I also found some trees that already withered.

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The garden itself was very calm and relaxing, most likely because I went there on weekdays, when not too many visitors were around. After having a walk in the garden, I enjoyed a cup of free ocha (Japanese for tea) at a rest area at the exit part of the garden.

2. Genkoan Temple


Finished with Kitano Tenmangu, I continue cycling to my second destination: Genkoan Temple. At first, I thought it was nearby. But apparently, it wasn’t! Genkoan is located about 3.5 km from Kitano Tenmangu, and the road that leads to there was a quite steep road. If you have a bicycle with no proper gear, I will not recommend you to go cycling uphill like what I did back then.

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When I arrived, I was the only visitor that came using a bicycle. Most people use taxi or bus no. 6 that surprisingly pass the small road in front of Genkoan. Now, about the temple. I entered the main hall, which cost for ¥400. The first window in the hall gave me a beautiful view of red momiji in the middle of a green Japanese garden. The two famous windows – window of realization and window of delusion – shows a similar view. It’s not peak yet, but it was still fascinating.

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Instead of the two famous windows, my favorite part in Genkoan was the garden on the left side of the windows. Here, I took a rest after a tiring session of cycling. I sat on the edge of the house, enjoying momiji leaves falling in front of me.

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3. Nanzen-ji Temple


On another day in late November, I visited Nanzen-ji, a temple in the eastern part of Kyoto. Entering the garden, I was amazed seeing momiji at it's most peak state! Everything was red, orange, with a little touch of yellow.

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After walking around the area, I entered Tenjuan Temple (¥400), which is famous for its autumn illumination. The trees in the rock garden were unfortunately withered already. But before I even had a chance to feel sorry, the back garden of Tenjuan showed me an amazing view.

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Red, yellow, and pink everywhere! Some of them framing the stone garden, some are on the edge of the pond creating a beautiful reflection in the water. If you go to Nanzen-ji to enjoy Momiji, make sure you enter Tenjuan Temple! It was a perfect closing of my momiji hunting in Kyoto.