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Elegance Gardens: Kyoto

Both Entokuin and Kodaiji Temples are in the same vicinity of each other and offer arguably the best night views of autumn leaves in the world, so I chose these two gardens to visit for my night viewing!    There are approximately 17 temple gardens in Kyoto city that are open for nighttime leaf peeping, and each with its own beauty.


Nishihonganji Temple, Toji Temple ( closest from Kyoto Station), Kiyomizu Temple, Joju-in Temple, Eikan-do Temple, Kodaii, Entoku-in, Chion-in, Shoren-in, Shogunzuka Seiyuden, Manshuin Temple, Daigoji, Kitano Temangu Shrine, Torin-in, Daikakuji, Hogon-in, and a few others.

Leaf peeping season generally runs from Novemeber 3rd to December 11th here in Kyoto, so if you decide to go shortly after me posting this, you won't be disappointed.   N.B. Day and Night are simply not the same experience.  Remember to set aside time for both opportunities to experience leaf peeping then.

The list I gave you above are open to the general public for evening leaf viewing.   Admissions prices range from 1000 yen to 500 yen and all have brochures in English.


Autumn nights, under a full super moon lit starless night sky in Kyoto, and already I am feeling enchanted, and yet bequeathed by the legacy  of Entokuin Temple on the beauty of generations passed down to the younger generation by their ancestors.  For I have known of Kyoto's beauty through its geisha, sake, and delicious cuisines.    But on this night, my eyes were arrested by beauty in the form of red-robed trees  and eaves covered in yellow leaves...

The pitch blackness of Kyoto City is mysterious to me after dusk, like if I had a knife I could cut through the fabric of night with it.  City planning officials designed it that way in order  keep the look of antiquity.  In many areas of Kyoto City you could walk along cobblestone pathways and be surrounded by wooden samurai style houses, each with its own lamp, ambient  enough to spread just enough light to the walkways.   Almost suffocatingly beautiful.   

I often tell visitors that you need a whole month to really see Kyoto.   Everything from the food to the sake has a story to tell.   The temples and shrines are beholden of timeless beauty.   Even the smell of tatami flooring is authentic.   70% of tatami in Japan is imported from China, and almost all modern domiciles use fake or altered tatami as flooring in some way or another.   Real tatami is made from a grass called "Igusa"and is part of the "washitsu" legacy established by the Japanese thousands of years ago.   80% of foreign tourist have never experienced the aromatics of true tatami, which is a medicinal herb that relaxes you.   When lying on one you get a real sense of being outdoors on the grass.   In Kyoto everybody uses authentic tatami, and it is amazing to sit in an evening garden overlooking the turning leaves, and being draped in a warm blanket with someone special and smelling the tatami's perfume aroma permeate up through to your nose.  If you are an older man, you'll probably be wearing some cologne with spices and this will only add to the allure.   If you are a woman, you'll probably be wearing Tresor.

Local Lovelies

First order of business after disembarking the bullet train was heading over  to the bus terminal just outside the gates to catch the #206 bus bound for Kiyomizu Temple.   I had been to Kiyomizu on a previous business trip in the daytime during cherry blossom viewing season.   In my humble opinion, daytime viewing of Kiyomizu Temple is far better than night viewing.   

Kodaij-ji Temple is located in the Higashiyama Hills of eastern Kyoto, not mountains.    Like many holy edifices in history, this temple was built in honor of the memory of a late spouse, hence the solemn beauty of the layout.  The calmative effects of the tatami, the turning leaves, the night sky, and the lake were warm on the senses.   Could really feel Kyoto in this garden.

Another thing I need to mention is the bamboo forest.  Absolutely the best I have ever seen.  

And how can I forget the sake.   I recommend Tabi Koromo Junmai-shu.   

There were tons more photos, but decided to just give a brief essay on one of the best spots in Kyoto to view autumn leaves.   On a last note.  This temple garden is best enjoyed all evening after you've had a great dinner and drinks.  You could sit in the tatami rooms for hours and hours and just enjoy the night scene.   


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