I’ve been wanting to go and see the famed momiji trees in this shrine at the earth fort called “Odoi”. And so when I saw the news that today was the peak time to see the momiji in Kitano Tenmangu, I immediately planned my visit. There was an entrance fee of 700 yen which included a tea and a snack at the end of the route.
It was my first time to see many momiji at its peak of kouyou so I was really awestruck at the colorful display of leaves. Everywhere you see was like a painting with hues of reds, oranges, yellows and some light greens! The shrine’s bright orange constructions even exudes a rather unique atmosphere. I also liked how you can view the leaves in the canopy and at the bottom part of the garden.
The tea was probably houji-cha while the sweet had a characteristic ginger taste.
Actually, the Kitano Tenmangu is more popular for its ume or plum blossoms but they’re not in season now. They will probably bloom by around early February. Interestingly, I’ve read from the shrine’s Facebook site that there were already some ume blossoming which is unusual. So I checked the ume trees after momiji viewing to see if it’s true.
So there were really some early bloomers… nice! But I will come back again for more.
I actually have no plan on going to Maruyama-koen to see momiji. I went here to see the Gion Kouta Matsuri that would be held at the memorial stone located at this park. But I arrived a little too early and so I killed time and went around the park and see the landscapes. Maruyama-koen has a different atmosphere, but in a good way, probably because the landscapes are Zen-inspired. It’s a different kind of beauty from the mountain scenes of Jingo-ji. Nevertheless, I enjoyed looking and taking photos of the fall sceneries.
Jingo-ji or Jingo temple is one of the Buddhist temples that can be found in Mount Takao in Ukyo,ku, Kyoto. I went with my international friends here for momiji-gari or viewing the momiji but we were too late as almost all of the leaves have already fallen. But there were still a few trees at its peak and the mountain scenes were serene and breathtaking so I guess it wasn’t too bad.
The origin of Jingo-ji goes back to 824 AD and has gone through many disasters throughout the history (like fire). I will quote what was written in the pamphlet that was given to us during the visit:
Wake-no Kiyomaro, who was in charge of building the new capital at Heiankyo (now Kyoto), established Takaosan-ji Temple on this site at the end of the eight century. In 824, Takaosan-ji and Jingan-ji Temples were combined as Jingo Kokuso Shingon-ji Temple.
Before the merger, Takaosan-ji Temple had played a key role in the Heian School of Buddhism, including visits, as guests of the Wake clan, by Tendai sect founder Saicho (Dengyo Daishi) and Kukai (Kobo Daishi). In 812, Kukai gave esoteric teachings of Takaosan-ji to Saicho and 190 others, laying the foundation for the establishment of the Shingon sect.
Heian-jingu or Heian Shrine is one of top Shinto shrines in Japan located in Sakyo-ku which was built to signify peace and rejuvenation of Kyoto after the transfer of the capital to Tokyo. You can read more about its history here: http://www.heianjingu.or.jp/shrine/heianjingu.html
My main destination was actually Miyako Messe to watch the monthly maiko performance in Fureaikan (see my previous post). But since I arrived earlier, I spent my time sightseeing in the nearby Heian-jingu as I never been there even although it’s quite a popular tourist spot.
That day was also Shichi-go-san so there were lots of families with their children dressed in kimono. It was an adorable scene.
Kouyou or autumn foliage is now nearing its peak in Kyoto. Some ginkgo trees have already turned yellow in certain parts of Kyoto, especially along the Kawabata-dori, but not yet in my place near Shimogamo-jinja. I am looking forward for the spectacular sight.
Meanwhile, we were supposed to meet up early for the tour yesterday so in fear of being late, I woke up too early and so had spare time to kill during the early morning. Which is good because I never had the opportunity to stroll along the ever-alluring Kamogawa or Kamo River. Almost of the trees along the riverside have already changed into their autumn foliage which was breathtaking to see with the morning light illuminating and even more highlighting the golden colors. Such is the allure of the Kamogawa! Maybe I should just stroll the 3-km distance from my lab to my apartment once in a while.
Kitano Tenmangu is a Shinto shrine located in Kamigyo-ku dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane. It was said that he was the first person in Japanese history to be enshrined as a deity. He is best known as the “god of academics” and so many students come here and pray for academic-related intentions, especially entrance examinations.
The lighting conditions was not very good at the day I went here due to cloudy weather. Also there was not much kouyou (紅葉) or autumn foliage yet. I will definitely come back here to see the famed momiji and ume in February next year.
You can read for more information in the shrine’s site here: http://kitanotenmangu.or.jp/top_en.php#en_tp4