Written by Jasmine O
Kodaiji Temple Fall 2020 - See Kyoto's Dazzling Autumn Scenes At Night!
Kodaiji Temple is a prominent Kyoto temple known for its annual evening autumn illumination event. Visitors can enjoy strolling through gardens and admiring gorgeous fall scenes at night. Held until through mid-December, this is a must-experience way of enjoying Japanese nature and culture.
Kodaiji Temple - Admire Marvelous Fall Illuminations in Kyoto
Located in the Higashiyama Ward near Kiyomizudera, Kodaiji Temple is one of the most prominent temples in Kyoto. Every October through December, visitors can see the illuminated gorgeous foliage in the evening. The temple is illuminated year-round, but fall provides a chance to view a rainbow of colors on the trees.
Kodaiji Temple is a Buddhist temple founded in 1606, honoring fuedal lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his wife, Nene. In addition to experiencing this history, there are multiple culturally important structures on the grounds to see, like a garden nationally designated for its beauty.
Explore Kodaiji's Fall Light Up
The theme of the illuminations at Kodaiji Temple change each year: the theme or light up for 2020 has yet to be announced. In 2019, the autumn light-up event was inspired by wind and sound.
The illumination began at 17:00 and lasts until 22:00 (final entry at 21:30) and ran until December 15, 2019. Please note that the fall leaves in Kyoto are expected to be at their peak visibilty from mid-November to early December.
After paying for 600 yen admission at the front entrance (pictured above), take a map (available in Japanese, English, and other foreign languages), and follow the signs along the route. It is advised to bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes, as there are some hills and stairs to climb around the temple precinct.
The paths are surrounded by greenery, speckled with reds, yellows, and oranges. It will feel like you've entered a fantasy world from the moment you step inside the main temple grounds.
Illumination Highlights at Kodaiji
Guests will walk by the garden, which is nationally-recognized as a historical place of scenic beauty. The placement of the stones in the garden is representative of a Momoyama era-garden (around 1583 to 1600).
Next is the Hojyo, or main hall, from which guests can see a special rendition of the rock garden. The colorful rock garden is illuminated at different intervals, so be sure to stay to see it lit-up completely.
Continue through the main hall to see artwork from Italian musician and artist, Luca Galileo. Galileo's exhibited works are inspired by Japanese nature, including textures of bamboo, pampas grass, and roots. Firenze is the Italian sister-city of Kyoto; this event commemorates 25 years of international cooperation and friendship.
After enjoying the art at the exhibit hall, proceed down the path to the Kaisan-do, where the founder of Kodaiji is enshrined. This hall is one of the original remaining structures at the temple, and is designated an important cultural property.
To the right of the hall is a gorgeous view of fall colors and a pond. The vibrant trees reflect perfectly in the still waters, creating a scene from a painting.
Another spectacular view is the enclosed pathway, Garyo-ro. The colorful trees surrounding the corridor will instill a calming feeling over you.
Kodaiji Temple is also known for its lush bamboo forest that guests can wander through. The mystical, illuminated bamboo at night is unlike anything you've ever experienced. During the autumn light-up, you can see the colors from the trees peeking through the towering bamboo trunks.
Seasonal flowers at Kodaiji
Other locations at Kodaiji include Otama-ya, a mausoleum, and the tearooms, Kasa-tei and Shigurei-tei, which have also survived fires and natural disasters since they were first constructed and are recognized as important cultural properties. You can view the outside of them and take photos.
For those craving some matcha and sweets, stop by the tearoom selling a matcha and wagashi set for 500 yen. You can view the serene, picturesque grounds of the temple while sipping on tea.
Kodaiji is full of sights and experiences, so be sure to take enough time observing the views.
How to Get to Kodaiji Temple
The sloped pathway leading to Kodaiji Temple
Kodaiji Temple is in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto, located close to Gion and Kiyomizudera Temple. Its close proximity to other major spots make it easy to visit.
To get to Kodaiji from Kyoto Station, take a bus (Kyoto City Bus #100) heading towards Kiyomizudera Temple, getting off at Kiyomizu Michi, or the special #206 Kyoto City Bus to Higashiyama Yasui. From the bus stop, walk a few minutes to the entrance of Kodaiji Temple (pictured above). It takes around twenty minutes in total to get there.
Alternatively, you can walk around 10-15 minutes from the Gion area to get to Kodaiji Temple.
Enjoy Fall with Illuminations at Kodaiji
One of the best times to visit Japan is in fall when the entire country becomes painted in crimson and gold. Kyoto's Kodaiji is a lovely temple to explore for a serene evening of appreciating the beauty of nature.
A visit during the daytime will provide another view of the gorgeous leaves. If possible, arrive at the temple before sunset to enjoy both. Entokuin Temple (join-ticket available for 900 yen), Kiyomizudera Temple, and Gion are nearby, as well as museums, shops, restaurants, so you can enjoy an afternoon and evening of fun in the area.
In cooperation with Kodaiji Temple