Higashiyama walking trail for Autumn colours in Kyoto

Autumn colours are showing off in Japan! Currently, you can see vibrant yellow, orange or red colours in areas around Chubu and Mount Fuji. From late September until early December each year, tourists traveling to Japan will have an unbeatable opportunity to witness the maple leaves changing colours in Japan. Kyoto, while famous for Cherry Blossom viewing in Spring, is also one of the representative cities for ‘Koyo’ viewing. Of all Koyo or Autumn colour viewing spots in Kyoto, Higashiyama district (東山区) is my personal favourite with its scenic surrounding and greenery plotted with temples and shrines.

To prepare your immaculate Autumn trip to Japan particularly Kyoto in November, here I share a set of beautiful photos snapped along the popular Higashiyama walking trail, from where your Autumn holidays in Kyoto should start. Click the images below to get to my Japan album on Flickr where you can view them in full and larger size. Follow the trail will lead you through alleys full of koyo scenes and attractive scenery.

Higashiyama walking trail - Kyoto_Local_Map

To know where is Higashiyama walking trail, take a look at the Kyoto local map above. From where it marks “You are here” in Gion, walk towards the Chion-in temple in the North to the starting point of Higashiyama walking trail.

higashiyama walking trail - Chion-in temple

You may visit Chion-in temple, a large temple complex in down town Kyoto, first thing in the morning before heading East into the Higashiyama district.

Higashiyama district of Kyoto

Here is another map showing the Higashiyama walking trail coverage, from Maruyama Park to Kiyomizudera Temple. The whole course covers 1 km long of roads and alleys and would take about 30 minutes without stopping to go through. That said, a leisure walk is recommended and should put you aside half a day.

Maruyama Park

To start off the journey with some thrilling Autumn colours, the first stop of Maruyama Park displays numbers of maple trees that should start changing colour in mid November each year.

Maruyama Park-2

Maruyama Park and an information board recording the history of the park.

Direction signs

Which way you should go? Follow the Kodaiji temple (高台寺).

Higashiotani temple

There are countless temples and shrines along the Higashiyama walking trail, which is why half day is at least needed to cover the walking course. You can pick some of them to visit as you wish. Higashiotani temple is one of them.

Autumn colours of Higashiyama

Autumn colours are everywhere along the trail in late Novemebr. Aren’t them breathtaking? They surely are to me.

Buddha in Kyoto

Being among the first regions in Japan to receive the religion of Buddhism, Buddha statues are seen literally everywhere in Kyoto.

Nene-No-Michi Alley

When come to a junction further down, you may choose either roads and they will still join back in later stage. For me, I would stroll down to Nene-No-Michi alley for Kodaiji shrine.

Kodaiji entrance

In about 100m, you will see the entrance to the Kodaiji shrine on your left, up at a hill.

Kodaiji Koyo

Further astonished by the vibrant colours of Autumn in the temple!

Kodaiji Koyo-2

A beautiful view of the Kodaiji shrine.

Ryozen Kannion or Lingshan Guanyin

Beside and from the inside of the Kodaiji, there is a giant Guan Yin statue, which can be visited with an entrance fee.

Kodaiji Koyo-4

How red could maple leaves turn into?

Hoganji-Yasakanoto pagoda-2

Keep walking and Hoganji-Yasakanoto pagoda is further down the Higashiyama walking trail.

Higashiyama district

Another spectacular feature during the Autumn season would be the warm sunlight that paint everything with wonderful colours! A great season for photographers.

Higashiyama neighborhood

After visiting most of the temples and shrine, you should start feeling hungry. Don’t worry. Eateries are coming into your way as you walk further.


Ninen-Zaka alley with shops selling souvenirs and snacks. This is the connection point for the detour earlier on in Nene-No-Michi alley.

Higashiyama trail

After the shrines, here comes the shops. Nice scenery around them too!

Kiyomizu alley

Take your time slowly as you need to walk up series of steps before hitting the main road again. But amazing scenes ahead do prevail.

Matsubara Dori-1

After all your hard works walking up steps, Shimizu shopping street is awaiting you!

Matsubara Dori-2

Matsubara Dori is your wife’s best buddy! They will take hours to shop here… 🙂

Matsubara Dori-3

Nishio Yatsusan Bridge Shimizu

If you are visiting Kyoto, Yatsuhashi are Kyoto’s quintessential sweets that you can’t miss to try. And this Nishio Yatsuhashi is one of the best representatives of Yatsuhashi.

Nishio Yatsusan Bridge Shimizu-2

There are baked or steamed varients of the snacks. I prefer the soft “nama” or raw version which is steamed and soft fill with various filling.

Kiyomizudera entrance

To the end of the shopping street, here comes the final destination of the Higashiyama walking trail. Kiyomizudera temple is the highlight of the journey with magnificent Autumn colours on display, day and night. The best time for a visit is mid to late November each year.

Kiyomizudera Koyo-1

This is an example of the wonderful view in Kiyomizudera.

Hope it helps your planning to visit the breathtaking Autumn colours spots in Kyoto. Check out the top 10 places to visit and top 16 local foods to try in Japan as well. – Travel Feeder, your travel photo blog

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