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Autumn in Kyoto 2023: Top Things to Do in Kyoto in Autumn

Wondering what to do in Kyoto in the fall? In this guide, we highlight the best things to do in Kyoto in autumn.

If you are visiting Kyoto in the fall, you are in for a treat. Kyoto is on another level around these months, turning its parks, temples, shrines, and even streets into a show.

Apart from the spring season, the best time to visit Kyoto is from October to November when the weather is temperate. The leaves in Kyoto start to change around October. The peak of fall foliage in Kyoto typically arrives in mid-November, and this goes on until someone mid-December.

Around this time, the best pieces of clothing to bring are light long sleeves and pants. A thin jacket or sweater is also good in the morning and at night. No need to bring parkas, coats, or any similar outerwear.

Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Kyoto in autumn:

1. Enjoy Autumn Leaves in Kyoto at Night

Of course, you wouldn’t want to miss autumn leaves in Kyoto. From temples and shrines to parks and mountainsides to rivers and streets, every turn in Kyoto feels like a scene out of a painting. Some of the best places to watch autumn leaves in Kyoto include Kyomizudera Temple, Togetsu-kyo Bridge, Kodai-ji Temple, Tofuku-ji Temple, and Eikando Temple.

2. Celebrate Kyoto Autumn Festivals

A lot of temples, shrines, and parks hold illumination festivals in the fall, putting another layer of beauty to these autumn leaves. The dates and times of these autumn festivals are highly dependent on the leaves, so be sure to stay tuned.

3. Eat Autumn Foods in Kyoto

There are so many seasonal foods in Kyoto you should taste between September and December. Make sure to try Kyoto matsutake mushrooms, kuri gohan (chestnut rice), and mizuna (local green) hotpot—three foods that are really popular in the fall.

4. Watch Geisha Perform at Gion Odori

One of the unique things to do in Kyoto is to watch geisha and maiko perform. In early November, these female entertainers perform traditional dances during the Gion Odori. You may also join a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto.

5. Dine in Pontocho over Kamogawa

“Kawadoko” is a popular Kyoto-style dining experience in Japan where restaurants, cafés, and other establishments have outdoor spaces, usually made of wood, built over or beside a river. This type of dining is designed for socializing and appreciation of natural scenery, especially in the summer months in Japan—from May to September—when it’s hot and sunny. You can still experience this in the fall.

Kamogawa near Pontocho is one of the most popular areas for kawadoko where you have a wide range of options, from traditional Japanese restaurants to French, Italian, Indian, Chinese, and more.

6. Take Sagano Scenic Railway

Skip the crowds and hop on board the Sagano Scenic Railway train where you pierce through winding mountain paths from Arashiyama to Kameoka. This 25-minute journey will be one of the most unforgettable sights in Kyoto.

Of course, these are just some activities in Kyoto you can do in the fall. You have a lot of options in Kyoto, so don’t forget to roam around and enjoy your time here!


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