Takao, an area by the Kiyotaki River which flows at the foot of Mt. Takao
Takao is known as the famous area in Kyoto whose leaves change color the earliest. It’s an area by the Kiyotaki that flows at the foot of Mt. Takao, and with the Kitayama cedar in the background, the scenery of a mountain hamlet with its continuing beautiful fall colors spreads out. From early November, the trees change color and by mid-November, it is the place to see. In addition, you can enjoy the expressions of the four seasons with the cherry blossoms and azaleas of spring, the new leaves of summer and the snowscapes of winter.
Jingo-ji Temple whose popularity has continued since the Heian Era
Jingo-ji Temple is the most popular site in Takao. Built in 781, it’s a Shingon Buddhist temple that was administered by the monk Kukai for 14 years. From a location beyond the Kiyotaki River, there are about 400 stone steps that will take you to the roumon tower gate. Once past the gate, you will see the shoin parlor, Daishi-do Hall and Godai-do Hall along with the temple bell at the bell tower. The bell was cast in the year 875 and is one of the Three Famous Bells in Japan, designated as a National Treasure. On either side of the stairs leading to Kon-do Hall, you can view the beautiful autumn leaves. In Kon-do Hall, a wooden statue of the Yakushi Nyorai is enshrined. At the very back of the temple grounds in the garden of the Jizo-in temple, you can view the beautiful valley of Kin’unkyou. Here, the ceremonial cleansing of “Kawarake Nage” is famous. Facing the valley, the kawarake, or unglazed plates, are thrown to exorcise your demons.
The elegant and small Saimyo-ji Temple and the World Heritage site of Kousan-ji Temple with the first Japanese tea garden
Saimyo-ji Temple is a 10-minute walk from Jingo-ji and from there it’s another 10 minutes to walk over to the World Heritage site of Kousan-ji Temple. Known as a famous place for the fall colors, Saimyo-ji also has the blossoming of the donarium cherry trees, the 1000-year-old Meoto Cedar and other sights during the peak time of November. Starting from the statue of Shaka Nyorai (an Important Cultural Property), many Buddhist statues are enshrined there. Kousan-ji is surrounded by cedar forests and within the beautiful temple grounds with its fall colors, Japan’s oldest tea garden exists as the site where tea was first cultivated in the nation. The wide mountainous view from the National Treasure of Sekisui-in is wonderful, and sights such as the Choju-Jinbutsu Giga (caricatures of birds, animals and humans) can be observed.