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