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Tofukuji temple 東福寺: Autumn leaves in Kyoto 2018

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Autumn leaves in Tofukuji temple 2018

Overview

東福寺三門

 Built in 1255, Tofukuji temple is one of the oldest Zen temples in Kyoto. It is named after Todaiji and Kofukuji temple in Nara.  The Sanmon gate (The photo above) is the oldest one in Japan and listed as National treasure. It used be a famous for beautiful  cherry blossoms but they were replaced with maple trees in Muromachi period (1336 ~ 1573) to be a landmark of autumn leaves. Today, it is famous for bridges floating over cloud of autumn leaves and amazing Zen garden. 

 We have two places to visit in Tofukuji temple: Sengyokukan valley and The main hall.

東福寺の紅葉

Sengyokukan valley has about 2,000 maple trees.

東福寺 八相の庭

On the other hand, the main hall has four beautiful gardens.

Sengyokukan valley 洗玉澗

東福寺の紅葉

 I’m sure you have seen this scenery in guide books. At Tofukuji temple, there are bridges floating over the cloud of autumn leaves. One is Tsutenkyo(通天橋 In the picture above. The red alien in the map.) and the other is Gaunkyo(臥雲橋 In the picture below. The blue alien in the map. ) Tsutenkyo is located in the area of Tofukuji temple. If you would like to go there, you pay entrance fee and have permission. On the other hand, Gaunkyo is located outside of the area of Tofukuji and you can be there without them.

東福寺の紅葉

 As indicated in the map above, these bridges faces each other. It is not permitted to take pictures on them these years. Between them, there is Sengyokukan valley.

東福寺通天橋東福寺通天橋

 This is Tsutenkyo bridge. In fall, it is crowded with many tourists. From here, we can enjoy amazing red and vermilion autumn colors.

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Into Sengyokukan valley

 The vermilion cat indicates the entrance of Sengyokukan valley. After the entrance, you stroll along a path (the green line in the map). It is so narrow that it takes at least 40 minuntes to get to exit. The path leads to Kaizando building. At the green alien, there are two paths to take: To Kaizando or to Tsutenkyo bridge and exit. If you were in hurry, head for exit. Usually in fall, it takes around 1 hour to get out of the valley by way of Kaizando building.

東福寺の紅葉2016東福寺の紅葉2016

In the valley, we can admire so beautiful red and vermilion leaves. Only a few places has this kind of colors.

東福寺の紅葉2016東福寺の紅葉2016

In addition to it, we also enjoy green leaves with them. We have a few places to see green, red, and vermilion leaves at the same time.

東福寺の紅葉2016東福寺の紅葉2016

Between two bridges, there is a stream. The fallen leaves are so stunning. This is my favorite place in Tofukuji temple.

やぎももさん
やぎももさん

Beyond descriptionどすえ

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The main hall and gardens 本坊庭園

東福寺 八相の庭

 The main hall has four gardens. This is the South garden called “Hasso no niwa,” or Hasso garden. Hasso means important eight things like enlightenment happened to Gautama Buddha. It is a typical Zen rock garden constructed with white pebbles, stones, and evergreen, and moss. Thanks to them, we have the same view of the garden in any season. In fall we can catch a glimpse of maple trees behind the wall. The blue octopus in the map is the entrance.

東福寺の西庭

At the West garden, there also is zen garden.

東福寺の紅葉2016

Adjacent to it, there is a small place to see Tsutenkyo bridge (the purple dinosaur in the map).

東福寺の紅葉2016

The north garden has extraordinary colors.

東福寺東庭

And the East garden, too.

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One more time, one more bridge

東福寺の紅葉東福寺の紅葉

There is a sub-temple named Ginryuan (龍吟庵). On the way to there, we have small bridge named Engetsukyo (偃月橋 The purple alien in the map).

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The best time to visit Tofukuji temple

 Usually, the autumn leaves in Tofukuji temple goes into bloom around mid-November, couples of days earlier than most of the landmarks in Kyoto. Korinin temple, Ryoanji temple, Toji, and Komyoin temple went into bloom at the same time.

Top 10 popular Autumn leaves spots in Kyoto 2018
As a forcast of the autumn leaves in Kyoto 2018, Kyoto Goat choose top 10 popular sites of 57 shrines and temples.
Top 10 underrated Autumn Leaves spot in Kyoto 2018
As a forcast of the autumn leaves in Kyoto 2018, Kyoto Goat choose top 10 underrated sites of 57 shrines and temples.

Komyoin temple is the most recommended place. Very calm Zen temple. It takes a couple of minutes to go there from Tofukuji temple.

Komyoin temple 光明院, the best Zen garden in Kyoto 京都
Komyoin is solemn, uderrated temple but has the best Zen garden to meditate in Kyoto. Let us visit there in four seasons and enjoy cherry blossoms, autumn leaves, and snow!
ヒヒヒ
ヒヒヒ

Don’t miss it!

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About Tofukuji temple

Name  Enichizan Tofukuji 慧日山東福寺

Address 15−778 honcho, Higashiyama ward, Kyoto city 〒605-0981 

Phone no.  075-561-0087

Website  Tofukuji official

Opening hours 8:30~16:00

Entrance fee

Sengyokukan valley (通天橋・開山堂) 

Adult 400 yen Junior and elementary school 300 yen

The main hall (本坊庭園) 

Adult 400 yen Junior and elementary school 300 yen

Time required 1 hour~

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How to get to Tofukuji temple

About 10 minutes walk from JR/Keihan Tofukuji temple.

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