Takao was my final stop on my autumn color extravaganza in Kyoto. I originally intended to visit the Jingoji Temple in the Takao area the night prior since it was open for night illuminations. However, I wussed out and decided to go shopping instead. It turns out it was a really good decision to go during the day, because Takao had the best autumn colors on this trip to Kyoto.
Takao is sparsely populated in a mountainous area about an hour’s bus ride from Kyoto. The Takao area houses three temples: Kozanji, Jingoji and Saimyoji. Jingoji Temple is the most popular temple in the area, and was the only one I visited.
Takao is pretty easy to reach from Kyoto. You can take one of two buses from Kyoto to Takao. The JR bus leaves from Kyoto Station (JR#3 stop). It costs roughly 500 yen one way. The other bus is Kyoto City Bus 8 that leaves from Shijo Karasuma.
It’s a roughly 20-30 minute walk from the Takao bus stop to Jingoji Temple. The trail goes sharply downhill and crosses a river. Follow the stairs up the hill and to the temple.
The temple grounds are very wide open, and when I was there on a Monday morning, sparsely populated (I imagine it’s much more crowded on a weekend day).
The centerpiece of Jingoji Temple complex is a large Buddhist Temple. From the top of the stairs, the view down is quite colorful and spectacular (the title picture of this blog).
Takao is known for its blazing autumn colors, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The area hits peak foliage a bit earlier than Kyoto proper, so I got a much bigger hint of what Kyoto looks like when its autumn is at its peak.
Takao was probably my favorite stop on this trip to Kyoto. This provided everything I was looking for and more when it came to autumn foliage. Jingoji Temple is very peaceful and isolated, and that is by design. I thought it was very quiet, peaceful and well built to inspire contemplation, both inward and of the beautiful world around you.
There are two things that make me really feel like there is a creative force in this world (like a God or Goddess): beautiful art and beautiful nature. Both of them make me contemplate in awe at how something so beautiful could be created, like the wonderment of the most elaborate Catholic cathedrals in the world, art museums, and nature. The Buddhist temple hall on the grounds was a beautiful combination of the two, with the artwork within the temple and the colorful nature spread outside before you.
If you visit Kyoto, particularly in the autumn season, I highly recommend a visit to the Takao region to see the temples. At a minimum, visit Jingoji Temple. You won’t regret it.
Really gorgeous pictures! I was in Japan last month but, unfortunately it was too early to see the changing colors of the leaves. Glad I came upon your post.
Thank you very much!