We’re keen to head out to some of Japan’s beautiful autumn destinations this season and Kyoto is always high on our travel list. While the city is beautiful at any time of year, this autumn it will be even more special because some of Kyoto’s temples will be lit up in the evening to add an extra touch of magic to the scenery.
As part of the Souda Kyoto Ikou campaign, six temples in Kyoto will stay open later than usual, with their grounds and buildings featuring special light displays. In November and early December, four venues will be adorned with bamboo lanterns while the other two will have their colourful trees lit up so that you can enjoy the autumn foliage at night. The bamboo used is all locally grown in Satoyama in Kyoto prefecture.
The illuminations take place at different dates and times for each venue. Here are all the participating temples and shrines in order of their start dates, along with a rundown on what to expect at each spot.
From October 29 to December 11, you can see the autumn leaves around Toji Temple lit up between 6pm and 9.30pm (last entry 9pm). It costs ¥1,000 (¥500 for middle school students and under) to tour the temple in the evening.
Byodoin Temple in Uji will be lit up from 6pm to 8.30pm on seven days only: November 19, 20, 23, 26 and 27, plus December 3 and 4. It costs ¥1,000 and is limited to 1,000 people per day, so we recommend booking tickets in advance.
This temple next to Arashiyama will be open after hours from 5.30pm to 8.30pm (last entry 8pm) from November 12 to December 4. The trees and pathway will be lit up with golden lights and bamboo lanterns. It costs ¥600 for adults and ¥300 for middle school and elementary school students.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from October 28 to December 4 (also open on Thursday November 3 and Wednesday November 23, but closed on Sunday November 27), Ninnaji Temple will be lit up with iridescent lights from 6pm to 9pm (last entry 8.30pm). If you visit between November 3 and 28, you’ll also be treated to a massive bamboo lantern installation. Entry costs ¥1,000 (free for high school students and under) and goes towards the preservation of its cultural properties.
This hidden temple along the Yamashina Canal will have bamboo lights lining its paths every day from November 19 to 27 from 5.30pm to 7pm (last entry 6.30pm). Entry is ¥500.
One of Japan’s oldest temples, Kenninji will have its autumn leaves lit up from 5.30pm to 7.30pm (last entry 7pm) from November 23 to December 11. There will also be bamboo lanterns on display. However, it’s only open to those who have purchased a ticket via the paid EX booking app.
Visit the event’s website for more information.
This article was published on October 13 2021 and updated on October 11 2022.
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