Home >> Japan Travel >> Tofukuji Temple (Kyoto) – Autumn Foliage Koyo Season

Visiting Tofukuji in Kyoto in Autumn - Bumble Bee Mum

Kyoto is one of the most beautiful cities to visit in Japan for autumn foliage (also known as koyo in Japanese).  The city is filled with popular spots to view koyo, but the most popular ones can get REALLY crowded during koyo season.

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When we visited Kyoto’s top attraction, Kiyomizudera, in autumn, the crowd was absolutely insane.  So to be honest, I didn’t really enjoy my visit to Kiyomizudera in autumn.  On the other hand, we had a very pleasant visit to another koyo hot spot – Tofukuji.

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That is not to say Tofukuji was not crowded.  It was also very crowded, but much more manageable than at Kiyomizudera.

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We were driving in Kyoto and had keyed in Tofukuji as our destination on the GPS.  However when we neared the temple, traffic wardens did not allow us to drive up into the narrower alleys leading to the temple.  So we found a public carpark along the main road (click here for Google map location of the carpark) and we made the rest of the way to the temple on foot.  Since we were driving, I didn’t exactly have a city map with me.  But when you are here in autumn, you really do not need a map.  Just follow the human traffic.

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You don’t actually need a car to visit Tofukuji.  Tofukuji station is just one stop from Kyoto station along the JR Nara Line.   The carpark we parked at was like just beside Tofukuji station, from which it was about 10 minutes walk to Tofukiji.  That is if you walk non-stop.

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But chances are you will not be walking non-stop, because the autumn foliage along the way was so gorgeous, you would keep stopping to take photos!

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The way everyone walked on the road towards the temple, you would think that the road has been closed off for pedestrains only.  But actually there were still vehicles passing by occassionally, so you still have to look out for traffic.

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It is very easy to forget to look out for traffic when you are surrounded by all those beautiful maple trees and you are perpetually looking up rather than straight ahead.

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We must have walked for at least 20 minutes before arriving at Tofukuji, with all our photo stops along the way.

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We had to purchase tickets to enter the garden where all the maple trees were.  Tickets cost 400yen per adult and 300 yen per child, but our pre-school children could enter for free.

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Note that the ticket is for a single entry.  Also, strollers were not allowed into the garden.  We had to park our stroller outside before we could enter the ticketed area.

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Once we got past the gate, it was just WOW.  Everyone was just taking photos NON-STOP.

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Even MF was like, “Pass me the camera! I want to take photo!” So we lent him the phone and he went around to snap snap snap with the phone.

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There was only one path to take – along a wooden bridge called Tsutenkyo Bridge, where everyone was trying to lean to the side to get a nice photo with the koyo.  So make sure you allocate ample time for the visit, to hang around to wait for your turn to squeeze into an empty spot to get your photo.

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The scenery from the bridge was just crazy awesome.  When you are on the bridge, you are kind of above or at the same height of the maple trees, so you can look across the whole garden full of maple trees in various shades of red and orange.

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As you cross the bridge, you will be flanked by maple leaves on both sides.

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At the end of the bridge was Kaisando Hall, where the locals queued up to make their prayers.

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As we walked towards the prayer hall, there was a green garden with a pond on our right, and a dry rock garden on our left.

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The dry rock garden was like super cool.  It was raked into uniform square patches – the precision was mind-boggling.  Even the boys were impressed by the rock garden.

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After we exited Kaisando Hall, we made our way down the steps to the valley below.  Along the way, we found a relatively quiet spot and took a short break while MF admired the photos he had taken with the phone.

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After that, we continued our tour of Tofukuji from the bottom of the valley of maple trees and I thought it was super cool to see the maple trees from a different angle.

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When we reached the bottom of the valley, it was evident that the koyo was way past its peak during our visit in early December.

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But in a way, I thought it was gorgeous to see the ground covered with fallen maple leaves.

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The garden was pretty big, so despite the crowd we experienced earlier on the bridge and in the hall, once we were in the garden, everyone was spread out and it didn’t feel so crowded anymore.

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Everyone got their chances to take photos with the autumn leaves without being photo-bombed.

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And at the end of the garden, we followed the crowd back towards the main road where we had parked.  Yup, no map required. Just follow the crowd.

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If you are in Kyoto during autumn foliage season, I highly recommend visiting Tofukuji.  The koyo was breath-taking, the crowd was manageable, and it was a comfortable walking distance from the train station.

Tips for visiting Tofukuji in Autumn:

  • The best way to get to Tofukuji is by train (Tofukuji station).
  • If you do drive, the public carpark along the main road (near the train station) cost 300yen per 30 minutes.
  • If you are visiting with young children, it is possible to bring a stroller to cover the distance from the train station to the temple – which was a very stroller-friendly walk.  However, once you reach the ticketed area, you need to leave your stroller outside.
  • Do carry young children or hold on right to them when crossing the Tsutenkyo Bridge. It is pretty crowded on the bridge and the gaps between the railings at the side are quite wide.  It is possible for toddlers to fall through.

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Information on Tofukuji:

Map: Click here for Google map location

Getting there: Tofukuji Station (JR Nara Line / Keihan Main Line), from which it is about 1km walk to the temple.

Admission Fee to Tsutenkyo Bridge area (for maple leaves viewing): 

  • 400 yen per adult
  • 300 yen per child (elementary – middle school age)

Official Website: Homepage

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Visiting Tofukuji in Kyoto in Autumn - Bumble Bee Mum

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Supposed to be a stay-home mom, but hates staying home. Definition of parenting is bringing the boys out for 'experiential learning' in Singapore, Japan and wherever else in the world her husband can afford to pay for.

30Comments

  1. Rachael says:

    Oooh! Definitely adding this to the list for my Kyoto visit for the fall leaves this year 🙂
    Rachael recently posted…Rainy shrine in TokyoMy Profile

  2. Genji says:

    Hi there, may I know when was this taken? Would you know if there would still be this autumn view say End of November? Thanks!

  3. edenz says:

    Hi,

    I wanna ask you a few things if you dont mind helping me out. Last time for my trip in hokkaido u suggested me to rent via tocoo. This time round i would like to drive from hiroshima to osaka. Which rental company or website would you suggest that might have the cheapest offer? And also, is japanese police officers strict on the child/baby must be on a car seat rulings? Thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I’m not sure if the police officers are strict about car seat rulings, but it is a law and laws are in place for good reasons. I wouldn’t try to flout the law.

      You can try searching for car rentals from Tabirai:
      en.tabirai.net/car/index.aspx

      • edenz says:

        Thank you for your suggestion, unfortunately tabirai doesnt have any vehicles available to pick up from hiroshima and return at kansai airport =( Anyway, what would the places you would suggest for me to visit at Obihiro if i were to go late march? And regarding your post about how to save money by self driving rented car, u mentioned to opt out of the CDW and NOC offered by the car rental company, instead you suggest to get a travel insurance which basically has the CDW in the coverage right? Does it means when i were to rent any car, i dont have to opt for any insurance at all? And if you dont mind, can you explain a little bit about CDW and what happened if i don’t take it. I have read up the car rental company explanation about it but still abit blurry for me haha! Thanks in advance!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Let’s say you don’t take up the insurance from the car rental company. In the event of accident, there is a cost you need to bear (called the CDW). So you would need to pay that amount to the car rental company first. Then if your travel insurance covers the CDW, you need to get the receipt and documentation (check with the insurance company what they need), then claim the money from your insurance company when you come back.

          NOC is non-operation charge. This is the fee you need to pay ON TOP of CDW in the event the car cannot move after an accident. If let’s say you get into a minor accident and can still drive the car back to the rental office, then you only need to pay CDW. If the accident results in your car being unable to move from the accident scene (i.e. tow truck required), then you also need to pay NOC on top of CDW. Most travel insurances DO NOT cover NOC. So it’s a risk you need to bear if you do not take up the car rental company’s additional insurance coverage.

          If you do not want to have to deal with having to pay for anything in the event of an accident, then you should take the car rental company’s comprehensive insurance which usually covers BOTH CDW and NOC.

          As for Obihiro in late March… Hmmm… I can only think of food. Buta don, Rokkatei main store, Ryugetsu Sweetpia Garden and Mugioto.

  4. Beautiful you often here about cherry blossoms by Autumn looks spectacular too #citytripping
    Wandermust mummy recently posted…10 best cruise ports in photos My Profile

  5. Nicola says:

    Wow, you caught the most amazing colours there! So beautiful, need to visit again, it’s been too long
    Visiting from #citytripping

  6. Lolo says:

    I’m honestly having such a hard time deciding when I want to visit Japan one day – in the Spring for the Wisteria, the fall for the foliage or in the winter when its covered in snow! Ugh I cant decide! I want to go so badly because I was born in Okinawa so I’d love to see it! #CityTripping
    Lolo recently posted…A Travel App Changing the Way We Travel: GPSMyCityMy Profile

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I know what you mean.. Japan is so different in all four seasons. That’s the reason why I keep going to Japan and sometimes revisiting the same places. Because the same place can look so different in a different season!

  7. gorgeous autumn photos! #citytripping
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels) recently posted…Discover Croatia: PAGMy Profile

  8. Ahila says:

    Beautiful fall colours! Love the name of the place 🙂
    Ahila recently posted…Special Six: Kunming HighlightsMy Profile

  9. Wow! This looks incredible! Japan gets such high billing for the cherry blossom but I think this autumn display is even better. The colours are so vibrant. Just a shame so many other people wanted to see it too! #citytripping
    Elizabeth (Wander Mum) recently posted…City Tripping #48My Profile

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The crowd here was nothing compared to the crowd at the more famous temple in Kyoto – Kiyomizudera. I actually thought the crowd was pretty thin for a Sunday – maybe because we were visiting in the really tail end of autumn. During the peak of autumn, I suspect it would have been even more crowded!

  10. I probably would be stopping all the time as well if I went there, it looks absolutely gorgeous! I love the fall colors. 🙂
    Noemi of Pinay Flying High recently posted…Unique London Tours | Hidden London Tour With Fun London ToursMy Profile

  11. Upeksha says:

    The colors are incredible! I’m panning a trip to Japan, so will definietely pin this for later. #citytripping
    Upeksha recently posted…A Canadian Road Trip: Vancouver to KamloopsMy Profile

  12. Oh these colours are so beautiful – I’ve heard of people travelling to see the cherry blossom but hadn’t realised there was an equivalent for autumn. I can see why though, the trees are glorious! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…Little Passports review and giveawayMy Profile

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  14. Grace says:

    Hi
    May i know how long you actually spent at Tofukuji admiring the autumn leaves with the kids in tow? I’d like to estimate how long my kids can survive there. I prob can spend the whole day!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hahaha.. I can’t remember exactly how long.. 2 hours max? I don’t think my kids can survive any longer than that. I agree that I will be able to spend the whole day! But not my kids.

  15. Mima Isono says:

    We went to Tokufuji this November. It was a gorgeous place for autumn foliage but extremely crowded, five times more crowded than in your pictures. You were luckier for coming when it was less crowded.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Ooo.. Maybe the crowd became thinner towards the end of the season coz I was there at the tail-end of autumn. November sounds like autumn foliage should be at its peak, perhaps that’s why it was so crowded!

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