Putting Kiyomizudera on a list of places to go in Kyoto is like suggesting the Champs-Élysées when you hear a friend is going to Paris—it’s a no-brainer and most visitors to the city end up there, at some point. But not many think of it as a place to see autumn foliage. With grounds packed with a surplus of big maple trees, Kiyomizudera is bathed in red leaves starting around the end of November. If you arrive at the right time of year, the view from Kiyomizu no butai, Kiyomizudera’s famed wooden stage, is particularly fiery. It can be tough to get the timing right, when visiting Kyoto’s famous sights at this time of year, and it’s best to err on the side of coming later in the year—it can often be the case that things have slowed down once the leaves in the surrounding hills are past their prime (meaning thinner crowds and inexpensive hotels), but there is still technicolor foliage in the city.
NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR