Autumn: Oct - Nov

Tofuku-ji Gardens | The Best Time to visit in 2023

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Tofuku-ji is historical Zen temple, first built in 1236 and located in south-eastern Kyoto. A river valley in the middle of the temple separates the Founder’s hall from other main buildings and three bridges connect to each area. 

There are two types of Japanese garden: Maple garden and Japanese dry garden. However, the good season is different for each garden. Here is the best season and time to visit Tofukuji.

The best season

Fall season

The fall foliage view from "Tuten-kyo" to "Gaun-kyo" in Tofuku-ji
The fall foliage view from “Tuten-kyo” to “Gaun-kyo” in Tofuku-ji

The best season in maple garden is the fall foliage when was from 3rd and 4th week of November in 2022 and It will probably be the same time or later in 2023. There are more than 2000 maple trees whose leaves changes green to bright red and yellow on the river valley side. It’s a magically beautiful scenery that the fall leaves with roofed wooden bridges, which seems to be floating on. The view from the second bridge “Tuten-kyo” to the first bridge”Gaun-kyo” is good in the morning because of facing east and opposite side is in the afternoon. Visitors walk in the maple valley, the Tuten-kyo and Kaizan-do area that has many types of maple trees: Japanese maple, mountain maple and weeping maple.

"Denshoro" with fall leaves in Tofuku-ji
“Denshoro” with fall leaves in Tofuku-ji

Tofuku-ji is also famous for historic architecture and it’s good harmony with nature. The bell tower “Denshoro” above picture with fiery-red fall leaves takes our breath away. 

It’s also famous for special night viewing events that the advance reservation(Japanese only) is required. The gentle light illuminate temples and trees in fall foliage season. The view from the bridge is amazing and you will never forget. The view from the first bridge”Gaun-kyo”which is free place in Tofukuji is also great. 

If you want to decide on the date to visit in fall foliage, this forecast site can help.

Fall foliage forecast site

Rainy season

Typically, the rainy season, drizzling rain, is from mid-June to early July. It is good for Japanese dry garden ”Karesansui”, using stones, gravel, sand, mosses and evergreen shrubs to represent images of mountains and water wave. The mosses, used as a ground cover, turn evergreen color with the high humidity.In Tofukuji garden “Honbo Garden (Hojo Garden)”, there are haircap mosses which are the cedar-shape and about 5 cm taller than other mosses.

In addition, cloudy days are good to look at the patterns: drop wave and swell, drawn on sand with utmost precision because shadows of a sunny days make it difficult. As a side note, The buds of the azaleas in Tofuku-ji are cut off for trimming, therefore they produce few flowers.

How to avoid crowds

The Kyoto city is crowded with travelers in high season. Especially, Tofuku-ji is a popular attraction where visitors have to wait in line for 2 hours to enter in fall season. However, a little planning ahead helps you to travel easily. Here is some advices to avoid crowds.

  • The weekday travel is better than weekend .
  • It’s good to visit Tofukuji by 8:00 during the Special fall viewing when open at 8:30 from Nov 1st to Dec 4th.
  • It was a 15-minutes walking from the nearest station “Tofukuji station” to Tofukuji. 
  • The cycling is also good for some reasons: the roads to Tofukuji are well maintained, there are many rental bicycle stores and parking places.
  • The other option is to stay in hotels or inns near Tofukuji

Information

Open hours

PeriodTime
December 5th – March9:00 ~ 15:30(close at 16:00)
April – October9:30 ~ 16:00(close at 16:30)
Special fall viewing
November. 1st – December. 4th
8:30 ~ 16:00(close at 16:30)



Regular holiday
None

Admission

PlaceNormal
Special fall viewing
(Nov. 1st – Dec. 4th)
Honbo Garden
(Hojo Garden)
Adult : 500 yen
Child : 300 yen
Same as normal
Tuten-kyo & Kaizan-do area
Adult : 600 yen
Child : 300 yen
Adult : 1000 yen
Child : 300 yen
The common ticket for
・Honbo Garden(Hojo Garden)
・Tuten-kyo & Kaizan-do area
Adult : 1000 yen
Child : 500 yen
None

※Child is Primary and Middle school student.

Honbo Garden (Hojo Garden)
Tuten-kyo & Kaizan-do area

Map of Honbo Garden (Hojo Garden) 
Tuten-kyo & Kaizan-do area in Tofuku-ji



Address
15 Chome-778 Honmachi, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Tofukuji

Flowers and seasons

※The time when the flowers bloom varies slightly depending on the year.

Link and resources

Tofuku-ji Official web site (Japanese only)

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