Koyo Season

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Gorgeous Kiyomizu Temple

The colourful leaf (koyo) season is a big deal here in Japan, almost as much as the cherry blossom (sakura) season. There are entire websites dedicated to tracking what cities have the best views on which days, and people flock to all sorts of destinations by the thousand to enjoy the nature.

Kyoto is famous as one of the best places to see koyo, and we visited it last weekend in a large and merry group of international students. Even as a Londoner, supposedly used to crowds, I was pretty overwhelmed by the number of people on the streets. Last time I was in Kyoto I went for the popular 時代 festival, but it was nowhere near this busy!

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There were many people in lovely kimono

I got to re-visit the Kiyomizu temple, this time in daylight, and the views really were breathtaking. Growing up in Russia, I already have seen many an autumn full of beautifully-coloured leaves, but the Japanese tradition of celebrating this season means that people notice and appreciate the nature more, and use it as a chance to spend quality time with loved ones.

Travelling in a big group of people is fun but also quite a lot of time gets spent on organisational stuff. We meant to go to a place called Arashiyama in time to catch daylight, but only got there in the dark. Arashiyama is a district to the west of Kyoto, famous for its nature such as the picturesque mountains, the wild monkey park, and a majestic bamboo grove. The latter was pretty spooky in the dark and I’m looking forward to seeing it again in daylight. However, night time was perfect for the light display that was set up in the traditional Japanese garden of one of Arashiyama’s temples. Again, it was a celebration of the season, and the temple was busy with hundreds of people admiring the natural colours of Kyoto.

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Arashiyama looking mysterious

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