Japan is famous for its seasonal natural beauty, and autumn is particularly a favorite seasonal spectacle for nature lovers across the globe. Autumn in Japan paints the country in glorious hues of red, orange and gold, a true feast for the eyes.
Kōyō, or autumn foliage can be enjoyed starting from early October to late November, as the temperature change swoops throughout the country. You might think you have to travel deep in the countryside to catch a glimpse of autumn’s gorgeous colors, but this isn’t the case. You can admire the season’s foliage in Kamakura (close to the metropolitan center of Tokyo) with a bit of historical twist.
Kamakura boasts a distinguished history going back to the early days of powerful samurai clans. Many shrines and temples associated with these clans still survive today, and in late November, the grounds and gardens are ablaze with beautiful colors! Rakuten Travel’s list of 8 classic temples with beautiful fall landscapes will take your breath away!
The large temple right before your eyes upon exiting JR Kitakamakura Station is Engaku-ji Temple. As the head temple of the Rinzai school's Engaku-ji sect, there are many highlights, including the temple gate and the main bell. It was once visited by the famous writers Natsume Soseki and Shimazaki Toson. The grounds are spacious, allowing many great viewing spots for the fall leaves. Autumn is also an excellent time to view the camellia flowers.
Long known as a convent and refuge for women, in recent years it has also drawn interest as a power spot for its significance in "breaking negative bonds and bringing happiness." In addition to the looming maple trees in front of the main hall, it is also worth seeing the tall, brilliant yellow gingko trees.
Its Chinese-style bell tower gate standing among the cedar trees is the Joci-ji temple’s landmark. The fall foliage near the main gate and stone steps are particularly stunning, and you can enjoy the fall colors in their simple, natural state inside the grounds. The grounds are also connected to the Mt. Genji hiking course, ideal for hiking up and enjoying the autumn leaves.
Flowers are continually in bloom all year round, and this temple is called “the Temple of Flowers” for their constant floral variety. “The Valley of Autumn Leaves” surround the Zuisen-ji temple, lighting up the premise with vibrant hues of autumn maple leaves and ginko trees during the harvest season. Winter cherry blossoms and chrysanthemum also bloom in the temple’s garden.
It is distinguished by the three dimensional effect of its fall foliage created by the difference in elevation between the mountains and the temple. For special evening visits it is slowly lit up as night falls, so it is recommend that you enter the grounds while it is still light out. Enjoy watching the gorgeously colored trees transform into a fairytale landscape.
When you enter the grounds, the bright red autumn leaves spread out overhead. Meigetsuin Temple is situated in a small valley, so the path through the grounds is narrow, allowing you to experience the feeling of being surrounded by fall foliage. Visiting the main hall is definitely a must. When you peer into the garden through the round windows, it feels as though you are looking at a beautiful landscape painting.
This temple is well known as a spot for viewing autumn-blooming flowers. In late November, the path to the gate becomes a tunnel of fall leaves that extends a colorful welcome to visitors. There is a bell tower on the grounds flanked by magnificent maples. They complement the bamboo umbrellas which are a symbol of Kaizo-ji Temple.
Many Buddha statues from the Kamakura and Muromachi periods still survive at Kakuonji Temple. Traces of that time period remain here and there, including the epitaph of Ashikaga Takauji inscribed on a pillar in the Yakushi-do Hall. There are many maple trees on the grounds, and it is famous locally as a place to view fall foliage. The dawn redwoods and other rare and ancient trees are beautifully colored as well.