Autumn Colors at Arashiyama Temples- Kyoto

Kyoto Arashiyama Arashion Temple title pictureFor my third day in Kyoto, I made my way out to the Kyoto suburb of Arashiyama. It is a short 20 minute train trip from Kyoto Station on the Sagano Line (train stop: Saga Arashiyama). This suburb was once an place of retreat for the Emperors of the Heian Period (794-1192 CE). Nowadays, in addition to being a quiet, bedroom suburb of Kyoto, it is also home to several historical temples, and is particularly known for its beautiful autumn colors.

Kyoto Arashiyama river bridge

This morning was the first day of poor weather with dark clouds and occasional rain. When I arrived at Arashiyama, I decided take the first train out on the Sagano Romantic Train. It’s a leisurely 25 minute, approximately 7 mile ride to the terminal station of Kameoka. The train chugs along slowly as you can take in the beautiful river valley and the colorful trees around you. You can disembark at Kameoka, or you can take the train back to Arashiyama (approximately 1200 yen round trip) for a nice one hour excursion. If you are also inclined, you can take a two hour boat ride along the river to Arashiyama.

Kyoto Arashiyam valley river

Kyoto Arashiyama valleyAfter returning to Arashiyama, I set off on an approximately three hour walk through the town, stopping off at three of the most prominent temples. My first stop was Nison-in Temple.

Kyoto Arashiyama Nishion Temple main grounds

Nison-in Temple was first built in 834-847 CE, and currently enshrines the two images of Shaka and Amida and are considered national treasures.

Kyoto Arashiyama Nishion Temple worship templeThe autumn colors were quite striking in Arashiyama, and the town hits peak autumn foliage a few days before Kyoto proper.

Kyoto Arashiyama Nishion Temple red treesThe combination of the relative early hour and the rain ensured that I most of the temple complex to myself.

Kyoto Arashiyama Nishion Temple colorful foliageAlso on site was a small Buddhist cemetery.

Kyoto Arashiyama Nishion Temple gravestones

Kyoto Arashiyama Nishion Temple funeraryMy second temple stop was at Adashino Nembutsuji Temple. It is located in the northwest corner of Arashiyama, and to get to the temple, you walk by a very pleasant street of covered shops.

Kyoto Arashiyama Arashion Temple entranceThis particular temple is most known for the thousands of funerary stones on the grounds, from the entrance …

Kyoto Arashiyama Arashion Temple gravestones & red tree…to the central courtyard. I thought the combination of ancient gravestones and colorful trees was particularly striking.

Kyoto Arashiyama Arashion Temple open gravestone field

Kyoto Arashiyama Arashion Temple gravestones and colorful trees

Kyoto Arashiyama Arashion Temple gravestone and a red treeMy final temple stop was at Daikakuji Temple in the northeast corner of Arashiyama.

Kyoto Arashiyama Daikuji Temple main groundsThis temple was a lot bigger than the other ones. This one also had more interior buildings. Your visit through the temple complex is a long, circuitous route on boardwalks. And since this is a Buddhist temple, you have to remove your shoes for your tour. Thankfully since it was raining outside, the entire walk was covered.

Kyoto Arashiyama Daikuji Temple entrance

Kyoto Arashiyama Daikuji Temple red outbuildingThe temple also borders a large pond, Osawa-no-ike Pond covered in waterlilies.

Kyoto Arashiyama Daikuji Temple pondArashiyama is a very easy trip from Kyoto. It’s not even quite a day trip, since you can easily see the town in about four hours. It’s just a short train ride from Kyoto proper and provides a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to both historical sites and beautiful scenery.

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