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This website lets you track Kyoto’s autumn leaves in real time

Souda Kyoto Ikou features the latest photos of autumn leaves at Kyoto's top temples – so you know the right time to visit

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen
Staff Writer, Time Out Tokyo
Ruriko-in Temple, Kyoto
Photo: Hsu Yu Sheng/DreamstimeRuriko-in Temple, Kyoto
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We’re all familiar with that twinge of disappointment you get when you travel the umpteen miles to visit a particular attraction only for it to look nothing like the photos. If you’re planning a trip to Kyoto this autumn, you can save yourself the heartache with this handy website that tracks the condition of the autumn leaves at various temples and shrines around the city. 

Daigoji
Photo: Tawatchai Prakobkit/DreamstimeDaigoji Temple, Kyoto

The Souda Kyoto Ikou website – run by Central Japan Railway Company – is updated annually with recent photos of roughly 70 shrines and temples taken by staff on-site, giving you an accurate visual of the colours and condition of the autumn leaves at each venue. Full of zen gardens, ancient trees and stunning tea rooms surrounded by lush greenery, these historical sites hinge on their natural surroundings. You can see the date each photograph was taken and get a better idea of when the leaves at the shrines and temples might hit their peak autumn colours. 

Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto, autumn leaves
Photo: Luciano Mortula/DreamstimeKyoto's Kiyomizudera temple in autumn

Venues are classified by location as the leaves change colour at different times depending on the area of Kyoto, and photos are updated every few days. This year’s first autumn leaf report on the Souda Kyoto Ikou website was posted on October 16, showcasing photos taken from October 10 to October 14.

Although most trees and foliage remain lushly green, a few are beginning to hint at the autumn spectacle ahead. Some, like Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, are just starting to show a tinge of yellow in their leaves. Other famous sites that you can track on the website include the iconic Kiyomizu-dera that overlooks Gion, as well as the Ruriko-in Temple in Aoba, which is favoured by photographers for its reflective tables. 

Plan the right time to visit Kyoto for the autumn leaves by checking the Souda Kyoto Ikou website here.

This article was originally published on October 18 2022 and updated on October 17 2023.

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