Lake Biwa Water Channel
Kyoto is a treasure trove renowned for its beautiful autumn colours, featuring magnificent layers of red and gold against a backdrop of traditional temples. Although the majority flock to the well-known city areas, Kyoto's outer areas also offer a variety of scenic spots, many of which are easily accessible on the Keihan railway line.
Start your Keihan Railway adventure at Yamashina Station, which is conveniently situated just one JR stop away from Kyoto Station. Walk across the street to Keihan Yamashina Station and from here, there are various kinds of train passes which make your journey much easier. For detailed information, please check out the official information here . This will enable you to witness the best autumn leaves spots easily on the Keihan Line across the Kyoto and Lake Biwa areas.
After this, hop on the train at Keihan Yamashina Station for two stops to reach Keage Station. Right next to the station is the Keage Incline, a tree lined slope with railroad tracks that extends 583 metres. It’s a very romantic stroll that is lined with trees and is also a great backdrop for photoshoots, especially when the cherry blossoms bloom in spring.A little off the path of the Keage Incline will bring you to the Nanzen-ji Temple grounds, comprising various buildings and open spaces. Stroll through the grounds to delight in the many red trees lining the temple buildings, along with the odd yellow gingko tree.
Nanzen-ji Temple Grounds
A little off the path of the Keage Incline will bring you to the Nanzen-ji Temple grounds, comprising various buildings and open spaces. Stroll through the grounds to delight in the many red trees lining the temple buildings, along with the odd yellow gingko tree.
Lake Biwa Canal Museum
Here you’ll also find the Suirokaku Aqueduct built with western-style architecture, contrasting against Nanzen-ji’s Japanese architecture. It makes a great backdrop for autumn leaf photos, capturing a historic blend of Eastern and Western cultures.
Note that this spot is extremely popular with tourists, so it’s recommended to try and get here as early as possible to avoid the crowds.After about an hour of exploration, head back to Keage Station via the Lake Biwa Canal Museum, where you can learn about the construction of the Lake Biwa Canal through maps, models, photographs and interactive displays. Signage across all the exhibits comes in multiple languages.
The western side of the Keihan Railway line also contains attractions covering both historic significance with scenic autumn leaf spots. Head to Miidera Station which is six stops from Keihan Yamanshina Station, with a transfer at Hamaotsu Station. From here, walk west for approximately 5 minutes where you’ll reach your first stop, the Lake Biwa Canal Tunnel. Although closed off from public access, the canal can be viewed from the street, providing an elevated view. Here, you can see the whole canal and its surrounds – trees lining both sides of the canal providing a tranquil setting matching the sound of the flowing water. This is a nice hidden spot that hasn’t been discovered by tourists yet and there was no one there when I went.
From the canal, continue by foot for about 5-10 minutes where you’ll then reach Mii-dera Temple, a large Buddhist temple of the Tendai Jimon sect. This became a Japan Heritage Site in 2015 and may be recognisable from a number of films which has used its location for filming. The temple grounds are large and expansive featuring many buildings, seaside views and of course plenty of autumn leaf opportunities. The best leaf spots are definitely situated along the entrance pathway and near the three-storied pagoda which provides a beautiful background against the red foliage. It is best to allocate up to an hour to explore Mii-dera Temple given the expansiveness of the temple grounds.
Daniel is a Tokyo-based Australian food and travel blogger who has resided in Japan since 2015. He enjoys trying new foods in addition to exploring Japan’s natural treasures. He has particularly enjoyed Kansai’s autumn colours and temples and hopes to visit again in the future.