Continuing from the last episode, here's another report on what's going on in Kyoto, as the autumn leaves are at their peak! One of our staff members visited temples in the Higashiyama area, about a 10 minute bus ride from Kyoto Handicraft Center, this time at night! In Kyoto, during the season of autumn leaves, a bunch of temples and shrines that usually close by the evening are specially opened at night to showcase the illuminated leaves. We hope you can get a glimpse of latest Kyoto by reading this article and looking at pictures from the sights!
When you think of temples in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera is probably the first temple that comes to mind to most people. It is certainly one of the most famous, popular temples in Kyoto and it has been attracting people of all ages and of all nationalities for many centuries.
Kiyomizu-dera is located in the Higashiyama area (Higashi means East and Yama means mountain), and as its name suggests, it stands on the slope of Mt. Otowa, in the East of Kyoto. The temple is famous for its high stage protruding from the slope of the mountain, so high that there is even a Japanese proverb that says, "Be brave enough to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu." Not a single nail is used in the pillars that form the foundation of the stage. As you know, Japan is an earthquake-prone country, yet there is not even a hint of collapse. It's quite a wonder, isn't it!
Needless to say, the most attractive feature of this stage is the view from there. When our staff member visited the other day, the bright red maple leaves were lit up, surrounding the stage! It was such a dreamy sight, as if a sea of red leaves were spreading out in front of us! And, the jet-black sky was lit up with a blue laser beam, creating a wonderful contrast between the black, blue and red of the autumn leaves. This view can only be seen in the autumn when the leaves change color, so if you have a chance to visit Kiyomizu-dera next year, make sure you go for this night visit of the temple!
Pagoda of Yasaka and surrounding area
Another famous symbol of the Higashiyama area is the five-story Pagoda of Yasaka. There are many five-story pagodas in Kyoto (even the logo of Kyoto Handicraft Center has a pagoda design on it!), and Pagoda of Yasaka is quite a small one, but the harmony between the beautiful pagoda and the stone-paved road is so breathtaking, making it one of the iconic views of Kyoto. On the road between Kiyomizu-dera and the pagoda, there is Gojo-zaka street (Chawan-zaka), the birthplace of Kiyomizu Ware, as well as Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka streets, nice areas with lovely souvenir shops and small food stands. This whole area is brightly lit during the autumn, so you can enjoy a stroll at night.
Just past the beautiful stone-paved Ninen-zaka street, you will find a zen temple, Kodaiji Temple. Kodaiji was built by Kitanomandokoro (also known as Kodai-in), the wife of 16th century Japanese leader Hideyoshi Toyotomi, in memory of her husband. Inside the temple is a mausoleum dedicated to the couple and a beautiful garden surrounding it.
The main attraction of Kodaiji in the autumn is the large pond in this garden. On a day when there is no wind and the surface of the water is calm, this pond becomes like a mirror, and the view of colored leaves in the garden reflected in the pond is truly magnificent. On the day our staff member visited, the view was really just as perfect as a mirror! Further along the garden, there is a small bamboo grove with teahouses which are designated as national places of scenic beauty. Kodaiji is not a large temple, but the garden, with its attention to detail, absolutely creates a graceful atmosphere.
Oh, and at the entrance of Kodaiji Temple as well, there is a resting spot where you can eat delicious Japanese sweets. As usual, our staff member took a break to eat her favorite Mitarashi Dango dumplings there (again)!
Just across the street from Kodaiji Temple is Entokuin Temple, where Hideyoshi's wife is said to have spent the last years of her life until her death. Entokuin is even smaller and cozier than Kodaiji, with a modest entrance that might be easily missed, but it too has a sense of elegance created by their beautiful rock gardens and gorgeous Fusuma-e sliding door paintings.
One of the most beautiful parts of this temple is the north garden, where you can see the garden from a Tatami room, and when you sit there and watch the gradation of the illuminated autumn leaves and the rock garden, you will be so enchanted that you will forget the passage of time. When you visit Entokuin, we highly recommend you sitting in this north garden and spending some meditative time there.
How was the night version of Kyoto autumn leaves report? We hope you enjoyed looking at the contrast between the jet-black night sky and the gradation of the colored autumn leaves!
Speaking of black night sky… on our online store, Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale is still going on (our staff member literally went to see the night visits on Black Friday night)!!
In this big bargain sale, all items are 30% off! The higher the price of an item, the better the deal! Here are some of our recommendations:
Please take this opportunity to get those items you thought were too expensive to buy at a discount! We are looking forward to your order until the last minute (until Nov. 29th 23:59 EST)! Don’t miss it!!