Southern Kyoto

  • Tofuku-ji Temple

    When the subject of famous places in Kyoto for autumnal leaves is brought up, Tofuku-ji Temple is the first name that comes to mind. The name Tofuku takes the first part of its name "to" from Todai-ji Temple for its massive scale, and "fuku" from Kofuku-ji Temple for its teachings and practices. Although formerly known as a place for cherry blossoms, the monks cut down the cherry blossom trees in the Muromachi period because of concerns that admirers would disturb their practice. In their place, maple trees multiplied until they reached the count today of some two thousand.
    In fall, many tourists come to Tsuten-kyo Bridge, the crossing of which is like crossing a sea of beautiful autumnal leaves. When you stand on the bridge, the colorful leaves completely blanket the ravine, a scene so astounding, it will take your breath away. But the autumn foliage is not the only wonderful thing to see at Tofuku-ji Temple. Garden of the Hojo (the Abbot's Hall), made up of gardens surrounding the building to the east, west, south and north, is famous worldwide as an ideal example of modern Zen gardens.
    The North Garden, with its vividly colored moss and paving stones arranged in a checkered pattern, and the South Garden with its dynamic dry landscape representation of Shinsen-to Island, where the immortal sennin are said to live, are both novel and modern.

    Tofuku-ji Temple
    Open hours:
    April to end of October: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    November to early December: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    Early December to end of March: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
    Admission:
    There is no admission charge to the grounds.
    Admission for Tsuten-kyo Bridge, Kaisan-do Hall, Garden of the Hojo (the Abbot's Hall):
    Adults: 400 yen
    Elementary and junior high school students: 300 yen
    Address:
    15-778 Honmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-561-0087
    Access:
    • • Take Keihan Electric Railway to Tofuku-ji Temple. It is a 10-minute walk.
    • • Take the JR Nara Line to Tofuku-ji Station. It is a 10-minute walk.
  • Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

    Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is the head shrine of Inari Shinto, which includes about 30,000 shrines dedicated to the worship of Inari, the god of grain and fertility. The year 2011 saw the 1,300th anniversary of the Fushimi Inari Taisha's enshrinement. During the traditional New Year's shrine visiting season, it gets the most pilgrims of any shrines and temples in the Kinki region. From the back of the main shrine leading to Mount Inari is a mystical corridor called "One Thousand Torii" made of more than 5,000 red torii gates.
    The hike to the summit of Mount Inari is about a three-hour hike, and you can enjoy teahouses and wonderful views along the way. The way is enjoyable even for those not wishing to go the entire route. On the shrine grounds is a stone dragon that divines whether people will achieve their heart's desire. Come to Fushimi Inari Taisha and try your luck! The divine messenger is the fox, and statues representing the fox stand on both sides of Romon (Tower Gate).
    Among the interesting things to see are ema, traditional horse votive tablets but formed in the shape of a fox, fox-shaped rice crackers sold on the approach to the shrine and other fox motifs.

    Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
    Open hours:
    8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Admission:
    There is no admission charge to the grounds.
    Address:
    68 Fukakusa Yabu no Uchi-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-641-7331
    Access:
    • • Take Keihan Electric Railway to Fushimi-Inari Station. It is a five-minute walk.
    • • Take the JR Nara Line to Inari Station. It is a three-minute walk.
  • Kosho-ji Temple

    Kosho-ji Temple is located at the bottom of Mount Asahi in Uji. Walking along the gently sloped path, you will arrive at a Chinese-style gate, San-mon. The main building of the temple is said to be the remains of Fushimi Castle and is also used to practice Zen Buddhism. Flanked on both sides by brooks, the approach is called Koto-zaka (Zither Slope) for the tinkling sound of the water.
    The scenery at Koto-zaka is well-known for its maple trees in fall. It is counted as one of the 12 scenic places of Oji, and people have long flocked here to enjoy the beauty. Please note that a reservation is needed to visit Kosho-ji Temple. The scenery along the path leading up to San-mon Gate has a particular charm. In fall, the trees planted along the sides of the path create a red tunnel, making the white San-mon Gate especially beautiful.

    Kosho-ji Temple
    Open hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
    Admission:
    The grounds are always open.
    A donation of at least 300 yen is required for admission to the main building.
    Address:
    27-1 Uji Yamada, Uji, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    Phone:
    +81-(0)774-21-2040
    Access:
    • • Take the Keihan Electric Railway Uji Line to Uji Station. It is a 10-minute walk.
    • • Take the JR Nara Line to Uji Station. It is a 17-minute walk.
  • Byodo-in Temple

    A World Heritage Site. Uji Palace was built as a villa by Fujiwara no Michinaga, the most powerful figure of the Heian Period. It was converted to a temple by Fujiwara's son Yorimichi in 1052 and the Amida Hall was added. The Amida Hall is intended to reproduce the Pure Land (paradise) in this world and is called Phoenix Hall because the building can be seen as a phoenix spreading its wings. Inside is enshrined a sedentary statue of Amida Nyorai (Amitabha), a National Treasure.
    The Amida Hall has come through much wartime destruction, miraculously surviving without damage. The architecture, Buddhist statues, paintings, gardens and more, convey traditions to us from the eleventh century, the second half of the Heian Period. The bell on the temple grounds was made in the eleventh century and is counted among the three great bells of the world. All of its surfaces are covered with exquisite designs such as angels, lions and arabesques in relief.
    The back of the 10-yen coin has the Amida Hall, and the 10,000-yen note depicts a phoenix on the roof of the Amida Hall. Many people enjoy comparing those to the real things at Byodo-in Temple. From the end of April to the start of May, the blooming wisteria flowers on the temple grounds are the pride of the temple.

    Byodo-in Temple
    Open hours:
    Grounds: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
    Museum: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    Admission ends 15 minutes before closing time.
    Admission:
    Adults: 600 yen
    Junior high and high school students: 400 yen
    Elementary school students: 300 yen
    Entrance to the Phoenix Hall: 300 yen
    Address:
    116 Uji Renge, Uji, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)774-21-2861
    Access:
    • • Take the Keihan Electric Railway Uji Line to Uji Station. It is a 10-minute walk.
    • • Take the JR Nara Line to Uji Station. It is a 15-minute walk
  • Daigo-ji Temple

    A World Heritage Site. Founded in 876, this temple has been known for its cherry blossoms for more than a thousand years. The first blossoms that open are the higan cherry blossom trees, followed in succession by the some thousand cherry blossom trees. In 1598, the great warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi gathered about 900 people here and held a sumptuous feast, known as the Daigo cherry blossom viewing banquet. Afterward, Toyotomi promised to return in fall to gather fallen maple leaves, but his life came to an end that summer at the age of 62. The autumn leaves of Daigo-ji Temple may be said to be a memento that Toyotomi left to posterity. On the second Sunday of April each year, a flower-viewing procession is held in which people dress up as Toyotomi and others and march around the temple grounds. Although the cherry blossoms of spring and foliage of fall are renowned, Daigo-ji Temple is also home to 41 National Treasures. In 951, a five-storied pagoda was constructed that reaches 38 meters in height, the oldest extant wooden structure in Kyoto Prefecture. Greatly esteemed images of the Mandala of the Two Realms are painted on the inside of the pagoda and are considered to be the origins of Japanese esoteric painting. Sanbo-in Temple holds many temple treasures, and its garden, the basic design of which was created by Toyotomi, and the magnificent Karamon gate are two features that should not be missed.

    Daigo-ji Temple
    Open hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    Note: From the first Sunday in December through February, 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
    Admission:
    Sambo-in, temple buildings including the main hall (Kondo) and five-storied pagoda, the Reihokan Museum and Kami-Daigo.
    Adults: 600 yen
    Junior high and high school students: 300 yen
    Address:
    22 Daigo Higashioji-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-571-0002
    Access:
    15-minute walk from Daigo Station on the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line.
  • Kyoto Racecourse

    Opened in 1925, Kyoto Racecourse holds five meetings each year with a total of 40 days of racing to enjoy. On racing days, the gates normally open at 9 a.m. From late in the 10 o’clock hour till past 4 p.m., there are 12 races. Horseracing novices will appreciate the low admission fee of 200 yen and betting tickets for 100 yen. Get a close look at the horses in the paddock before the race and experience the feverish atmosphere in the stands after the race, soaking in Japan’s horseracing culture.
    For first-time goers, the vast grounds and open feel at the racetrack may themselves be a sensational experience. The grounds include many facilities, including a variety of restaurants. With the hall where the excitement of the race is carried through on the big screen, a wide-open lawn to lie down on and lots of events on a stage, as well as riding ponies, Kyoto Racecourse is a carnival of entertainment for all.

    Kyoto Racecourse
    Open hours:
    Hours of operation on race dates: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Hours of operation on weekdays: 10:00 a.m. to noon, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. For the race calendar,
    visit:
    Note: Kyoto Racetrack may be closed particularly on Mondays, Tuesdays and holidays (including around the new year), as well as for certain other occasions.
    Admission:
    200 yen.
    There is no charge for the general grandstand seating. A separate charge applies for reserved seats.
    Address:
    32 Yoshijima Watashiba-jima-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture > Map
    URL:
    Phone:
    +81-(0)75-631-3131
    Access:
    • • Take Keihan Electric Railway to Yodo Station. It is a two-minute walk.
    • • Take the JR Tokaido Main Line to Yamazaki Station. It is about 20 minutes by direct bus, running every 20 minutes between 8:20 a.m. and 2:10 p.m.
    • • Take Hankyu Railway to Minase Station. It is 20 minutes by direct bus, running every 20 minutes between 8:10 a.m. and 2:10 p.m.
    Note: A fare is charged on the buses, which run between Kyoto Racecourse and JR Yamazaki (Tokaido Main Line)/Hankyu Minase Station. The buses operate on Saturdays and Sundays when there is a horseracing event or off-track betting.