Kyoto and its surrounding areas offer some beautiful hiking opportunities during the autumn season when the leaves change color (known as “koyo” in Japanese). Although Fushimi Inari Taira and the Bamboo Forest come to mind when exploring the outdoors in Kyoto, here are a few other popular hikes near the city that provide stunning views in the fall:
Mount Kurama (Kurama-yama)
Located in the northern part of Kyoto, Mount Kurama is a popular hiking destination and is especially picturesque during the autumn season. The hike starts from Kurama Temple and takes you through a forested trail with vibrant fall colors. You can also visit Kurama Onsen, a hot spring, after your hike to relax. The mountain also holds great significance in Japanese culture and history, primarily due to its association with Tengu, a mythical creature often depicted with a human-like form and the face of a bird. Mount Kurama is believed to be the Tengu’s traditional dwelling place, and it has been a site of religious and spiritual importance for centuries.
Google maps link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/gG7RQXWacgM6ZSSw5
Mount Hiei (Hieizan)
Situated to the northeast of Kyoto, Mount Hiei offers various hiking trails, including the well-known Eizan Cable Car and ropeway. You can explore the Enryaku-ji Temple complex on the mountaintop and enjoy panoramic views of Lake Biwa and the surrounding area, which is particularly breathtaking in autumn. It is also one of Japan’s most historically and spiritually significant mountains and is closely associated with two major Buddhist sects: the Tendai sect and the Jodo sect.
Google maps link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/PAnDmCwPr1hbW8sF6
Tetsugaku no Michi, also known as the Philosopher’s Path, is a serene stone walkway in Kyoto, stretching for approximately two kilometers along the Lake Biwa Canal in the Higashiyama district. Lined with hundreds of cherry trees, it transforms into a breathtaking tunnel of pink blossoms during spring’s cherry blossom season and exhibits vibrant red and gold in the autumn. Named after the philosopher Nishida Kitaro, who used it for daily contemplative walks, Tetsugaku no Michi offers visitors a peaceful and reflective journey, passing by historic temples like Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) and providing a tranquil natural setting.
Google Maps link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/mqAg5HxbXMmAjv3t5
Mount Atago (Atagoyama)
Located in the western part of Kyoto, Mount Atago is known for its stunning autumn foliage. It’s a relatively short hike which takes you to Atago Shrine, offering a great vantage point to appreciate the autumn colors of Kyoto. Mount Atago is easily accessible from Kyoto, as visitors can take public transportation to the base of the mountain and then hike to the shrine. Alternatively, there is a cable car that provides access to the summit area.
Google Maps link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/tYpDPPTdoqSpK4C19
Ohara, a rural area northeast of Kyoto, offers several hiking trails that lead through picturesque countryside and forests. You can explore the Sanzen-in Temple, which is known for its beautiful moss garden and autumn colors during the season. It offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city life of Kyoto and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike seeking a quieter and more traditional Japanese experience.
Google Maps link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/xcvLxqg9cYYtcDoP6
Mount Daimonji, also known as Daimonji-yama, is a prominent mountain located in the Higashiyama District of Kyoto, Japan. It is famous for its large kanji character “大” (pronounced “dai”), which means “big” or “great,” carved into its slope. While Mount Daimonji is relatively small compared to some of the other mountains in Kyoto, it offers hiking opportunities and panoramic views of Kyoto city and the surrounding mountains. There are hiking trails leading to the summit, making it a popular spot for both tourists and locals seeking a scenic view of the city.
Google Maps link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/gooKU5pqL3hTz737A
When planning a hike in Kyoto during the autumn season, it’s essential to check the local foliage forecasts to time your visit when the leaves are at their peak colors. Additionally, be prepared with appropriate hiking gear and clothing, as the weather can vary during the autumn months in Kyoto. Enjoy the vibrant hues and the serene beauty of Kyoto’s natural surroundings during your hike.
Featured image by wikimedia commons
Are you visiting Japan in the Fall and want to eat seasonal foods while learning about the culture? Book your local guide now!
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