Kyoto in Early Summer
ReleaseMay 3, 2019
Kyoto in Summer
From early to mid-summer, you can see fine views of green leaves called ao-momiji here and there in Kyoto. Ao-momiji means maple leaves not yet turned red. Why not come and enjoy the lushness of this season in Kyoto yourself?
KYOTO CITY OFFICIAL TRAVEL GUIDE
Sanzen-in is a temple nestled in the abundant natural surroundings of Ohara and has a 1,200-year history. It is famous for hydrangeas and colored autumn leaves, but is also beautiful in the season of fresh green leaves and ao-momiji maples. The moss garden is also worth a visit.
A shrine dedicated to the deity of water. The contrast of the red lanterns and green maple leaves along the approach is simply stunning.
This temple has an exquisite garden. The approach from San-mon gate to the shoin (study hall) is covered with fresh greenery in early summer. A little away from the usual sightseeing routes, the temple allows you to enjoy a less crowded and quieter atmosphere, except during the season of the vibrant autumn leaves.
Komyo-ji Ruriko-in Temple
A temple at the foot of Mount Hiei. It is not usually open to the public except for ao-momiji season in early summer and the autumn leaves season.
*The dates of these special openings vary every year. Please check the official website for details.
A temple of the Tendai Sect of Buddhism that originated in the late 8th century. Since the 10th century, it has been a monzeki temple with its head priest being a member of the Imperial Family. Azaleas in front of Daishoin Hall are in full bloom in early May every year and attract many people.
The origin of this temple is a school that Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, built in Fushimi in the southern part of current Kyoto City in 1601. It was moved to its current location in 1667. The contrast of the bright “Jugyu no Niwa” garden against the dark Shoin room makes for a remarkable sight.
A mountain villa built for seclusion by Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672), a retainer of Tokugawa Ieyasu, that later became a Zen temple. The blooming of azaleas in late May greatly enhances the green of the leaves.
A monzeki temple with its head priest being a member of the Imperial Family. Here you can enjoy two different types of gardens, the dry landscape garden and the circuit-style garden with a path winding around a pond. The black wooden floor of the “Taki no Ma” room beautifully reflects the garden’s green leaves.
In the hondo (main hall) you can see the famous round window, “The Window of Enlightenment,” and the square window, “The Window of Confusion.” Beyond is a picturesque garden filled with ao-momiji, which you can see through both windows.
A temple related to Yoshino Tayu, a noted and great geisha of the 17th century. The combination of the vermillion San-mon gate, which is said to be a donation from Tayu, and the ao-momiji along the approach is definitely worth seeing.
Tadasu no Mori
A forest in the grounds of Shimogamo-jinja Shrine in a delta of the Kamo River and Takano River. This extensive forest spans roughly 120,000 square meters with 40 different kinds of trees that are 200-600 years old growing densely together. Layers of green leaves spread above your head while streams flowing through the forest create a most picturesque landscape. With few tourists, it is a quiet and calm place.
Kyoto Gyoen National Garden
This area is an outer garden of the Kyoto Imperial Palace and a site where court nobles lived before the mid-19th century. Now, it is a beautiful park with wide gravel paths stretching across vast grounds of trees and lawns.
Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine
The primary shrine of many Tenman-gu shrines throughout the country in which Sugawara no Michizane (845-903), a scholar and politician, is enshrined. To the west are the remnants of Odoi, an earthen fortification built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598), a warrior and ruler at the time. Odoi fuses with the natural surroundings and offers a scenic view of fresh green leaves in early summer.
Ao-momiji open to the public: early to late May
*The schedule varies every year. Please check the official website for details.
The temple’s sukiya-style thatch-roofed gate is surrounded by fresh greenery. Visiting on early summer mornings when the air is particularly refreshing is highly recommended.
*Public entry into the hondo (main hall) itself is not usually permitted.
Shinnyo-do Temple (Shinsho Gokuraku-ji)
The temple is home to a three-story pagoda, San-mon Gate, Ganzan Daishi-do Hall, and a bell tower interspersed with ao-momiji creating a spectacular sight.
Eikan-do Temple (Zenrin-ji)
Eikan-do is very famous for its wonderful autumn leaves. A large corridor on the slope of a mountain offers views from many different angles as you climb the stairs so you can fully enjoy the 3,000 or so maple trees. On sunny days, the Taho-to Pagoda provides a fabulous lookout of the city with all its fresh greenery.
The combination of the huge wooden San-mon Gate, which was rebuilt in 1628, with the green leaves is magnificent. In the grounds, the green of the ao-momiji against the red brick architecture of the Roman-style Lake Biwa aqueduct creates a unique view of Nanzen-ji.
The green leaves of a huge camphor tree on the temple grounds make for a nice view. A garden thought to be designed by Soami (artist of the 16th century) and the Kirishima Garden, designed by Kobori Enshu (artist, 1579-1647), are scenic in every season. Azaleas are in full bloom in late May every year.
Located in the center of Gion, this is said to be the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto. Here you can visit the “Chouontei” garden with its blend of green leaves and moss.
A temple related to Nene, the lawful wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The temple garden is said to be designed by Kobori Enshu and is surrounded by beautiful ao-momiji.
Located in Takao, Jingo-ji is one of the most famous temples for viewing the breathtaking autumn foliage in Kyoto. In early summer, its precincts as well as the long stone steps to San-mon Gate are surrounded by beautiful green leaves.
A temple in Nagaokakyo famous for its stunning autumn leaves. After passing through So-mon Gate, you come to a beautiful green tunnel of ao-momiji.
Many buildings, halls and pagodas stand on the slope of the mountain in the large precincts of the temple. Ao-momiji can be seen scattered among these buildings.
A temple standing on the hillside of Mount Ogurayama. It is said to have been the site of Shiguretei, a mountain villa of poet Fujiwara Teika (1162-1241). The thatched Nio-mon Gate and ao-momiji create a lyrical atmosphere just like Teika’s poems describe.
This is the primary temple of the Daikakuji school of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. After it was founded as Emperor Saga’s Imperial Villa, it became a monzeki temple with its head priest being a member of the Imperial Family. The green leaves and azaleas surrounding Osawa no Ike pond are definitely worth seeing.
The approach, extending about 200m straight from So-mon Gate, is called “Koyo no Baba” (horse racetrack of red leaves) in autumn. In early summer, it is covered by greenery and is one of the most famous ao-momiji viewing spots in Sagano.
Known as a nunnery related to the tragic love story of “The Tale of the Heike.” It is famous for its moss garden, and in early summer, fresh greenery, young bamboo and moss carpets create a delightful green world.
Jizo-in Temple (Bamboo Temple)
Surrounded by bamboo, this temple is called “Bamboo Temple.” From the approach, an eye-catching, green gradation of ao-momiji, bamboo and moss carpets can be seen.
The five-story pagoda (a National Treasure) and other majestic buildings enveloped in fresh green leaves create a scenic view. You can also see the azaleas in bloom from May to June every year. Designated as a world heritage site.
The huge precincts are overflowing with greenery. From Gaunkyo Bridge you can see a myriad of ao-momiji and the Tsutenkyo Bridge, which appears to be floating.
The precincts of this temple include Mount Daigo. The many kinds of trees on the mountain result in wonderful collage of different shades of green. Designated as a world heritage site.
The temple offers the secluded yet elegant atmosphere of the dynasty in which it was built. Enjoy the ao-momiji in the temple’s extensive grounds. In early summer, there are also plenty of lovely flowers.
●Sky Hop Bus Kyoto
The popular sightseeing bus of Tokyo, Sky Hop Bus, comes to Kyoto! It is a two-story open top bus that allows you to hop on and hop off at any bus stop on the route that tours Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, and other major sightseeing spots in Kyoto. Audio guidance is available in seven languages (Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, French, and German). 1-day pass (24-hours): 3,500 yen (adult)