In Kyoto

The 5 Best Fall Trees and Perfect Time to See In Kyoto


The fall foliage in Japan is world-famous. Many types of tree turn shiny red and yellow color. In Kyoto city, this season is typically from late October to early December when the lowest temperature drop below 8℃(46℉), and rapidly at 5 or 6℃(41or 42℉).

Although many traveler visit Japanese gardens, not much is known about that all trees don’t start changing color at the same time. In other words, time of turning fall color at the different times, depending on tree species.

It’ll be best travel, if you know “when” and “which types” of trees change color. Here is popular fall trees and best time to see fall leaves in Kyoto.

Japanese maple tree

Japanese maple tree in Ginkaku-ji
Japanese maple tree in Ginkaku-ji

The most colorful fall leaves trees are Japanese maple trees, written in Chinese character as “紅葉”, meaning “red leaf”. Although normally they have green leaves, the leaves change gradient fire color from yellow to red, depending on the length of daylight in fall foliage.
In famous spots, there are more than 1000 Japanese maple trees for gorgeous view, like an ocean of colorful leaves. Typically, The peak time of maple leaf is late fall foliage season when fall cherry leaves finish.

Best spots to see Japanese maple trees

Eikando Zenrin-ji(English)



Cherry tree

Cherry trees photo taken by 中村 昌寛

Cherry trees are famous for colorful fall leaves in the fall as well as pink blossoms in the spring. In general, the rows of cherry trees, planted in the parks and along the rivers, are majestic view in fall foliage. On the other hands, garden designer plant a few cherry trees as a symbol tree: giant cherry tree, and weeping cherry tree in the Japanese gardens. The leaves start changing color and falling from early to mid fall season when the lowest temperature drop below 8℃(46℉).

Best spots to see Cherry trees


Maruyama park(EN)


Ginko tree photo taken by yoikisetune28

Ginkgo tree leaves, whose shape is fan with veins splitting in two directions, are known as yellow fall leaves. They are planted in shrines and temples as a symbol tree to respect and fear for nature, and on the side of street as a streetscape. Typically, they start turning a brilliant golden yellow color in the beginning of fall foliage season. In addition,  ginkgo trees keep their leaves for about a month after changing color, therefore visiter can see long time. 

Best spots to see Ginko trees

Higashi honganji(EN)

Iwato-Ochiba shrine(JP)

Lighthouse azalea

Lighthouse azaleas in Kiyomizu temple
Lighthouse azaleas in Kiyomizu temple

Lighthouse azaleas, which are shrub with ovate-shaped and middle leaves, change the fall color. They are easy to maintain shrubbery shape of Japanese garden style: a round ball. Those leaves start turning a brilliant red colors from mid to late autumn season at the same time as Japanese maple trees. Incidentally they make cute bell-shaped flowers in spring.

Best spot to see Lighthouse azaleas

Bisyamon-do temple(JP)

Crape myrtle

Crape myrtle photo taken by 木漏れ日

Crape myrtles, which are famous for summer flowering tree, display good fall color. They are planted by the pond in Japanese garden as accent trees. In fall season, the view of Crape myrtles, arching branches with oval-shaped bright red leaves,  is a picturesque. The time of changing color is from early to middle autumn season, same as cherry tree.

Best spots to see Crape myrtles

Suzaku garden(EN)

Kodai-ji (EN)