Kyoto: Fall Colors at Tōfuku-ji 京都東福寺紅葉

Lots of people claim that Tōfuku-ji is the best destination for fall colors in Kyoto. It is a popular autumn attraction for not just foreigners but Japanese as well.

很多人說東福寺是京都紅葉第一名所,不止觀光客多,日本人也超多。

Tōfuku-ji (東福寺, とうふくじ) is a Buddhist temple in the Higashiyama District of Kyoto. A temple was founded here in 924 AD. It was expanded into Tōfuku-ji in 1236 and completed in 1255.

During this period of time, political power was controlled by warlords in the form of feudal military dictatorship. The royal family and elites who centralized power for a few centuries no longer ran the show. Warlords “shōgun” and their private military “samuris” dominated the political and economic scenes. The first feudal military government was the Kamakura shogunate (鎌倉幕府) which ruled Japan from 1192 to 1333.

東福寺在東山區,是個佛教寺廟,西元924建的,1236-1255年間擴大變成現在的東福寺。

這段時間的日本是軍閥掌權的幕府時代,皇室和貴族當道的中央集權時代結束,幕府將軍和武士掌權,幕府時代的第一個政權是從1192年到1333掌權的鎌倉幕府。

Interesting enough, this new class that rose to power decided to copy the symbol of power from the previous era and built a superfluous temple just like those in Nara that were founded in the 7th-8th centuries. Back then, the emperor, elite ruling class, and clergy were tight, and gigantic temples in Nara held substantial political, economic, and military power. The two most powerful temples were Tōdai-ji (東大寺) and Kohfukuji (興福寺). (Read more about the fascinating history of Nara’s Tōdai-ji and Kohfukuji)

When the Kamakura shogunate decided they wanted a gimongous temple too, they built this temple Tōfuku-ji and named it after the two most powerful temples in Nara.

幕府將軍推翻了之前的中央集權制度,有趣的是,也跟著要建奈良時代浮誇的佛寺。西元七、八世紀,日本首都在奈良的時候,皇室、貴族、僧侶掌控政經勢力,奈良的佛寺握有十足的政治、經濟、軍事勢力,影響力最大的兩個佛寺是東大寺興福寺。鎌倉幕府時代,攝政九条道家想建一座超大佛寺,就決定把奈良的兩大佛寺名字各取一字,變成東福寺。

A travel guide that I counted on when I planned this Kyoto trip had a funny and ironic story about this temple. (This great travel guide is written in Mandarin Chinese, so it probably would not be helpful for you.) Not sure how much of this is true, but legend has it that a monk made the case that they should not plant cherry trees at this temple because cherry blossoms would attract lots of tourists and disturb the tranquillity they wanted for their practices. Instead of cherry trees, they should plant maple trees. Little did they know, hundreds of years later, fall colors of the maple trees attract some 35,000 people a day to this temple.

It’s been getting so busy that in 2016 the temple banned photography on the main bridge that overlooks maple trees in the valley.

排京都楓葉行程都靠卡瓦納的京都自由自在,卡大的網誌有個東福寺的好笑故事,據說當年的僧侶自以為聰明想說種櫻花會吸引太多遊客,無法好好清修,還是種楓樹好,殊不知幾百年後的今天,東福寺的紅葉每天吸引個三萬五千人來朝聖。人多到2016年開始,賞楓期廟方禁止在通天橋上拍照!

Visiting Tōfuku-ji is not free. The admission for the fall color area is ¥400. Door opens at 8:30 am during the fall. It gets very crowded so you want to get here early.

東福寺楓葉最美的地方要收費,門票是四百日幣,賞楓期間早上八點半開門,最好早早到,晚了人更多。

In additional to fall colors, Tōfuku-ji is also famous for very zen Japanese landscape. A Japanese landscape architect Mirei Shigemori designed the gardens here in 1939. With the ¥400 admission fee to the Tsuten Bridge (通天橋), you can keep walking up the hill to the Kaizan-dō (開山堂) where you get a feel of what Japanese garden landscape looks like. Paying another ¥400 will get you access to other classic gardens such as the Abbots’ Quarters’ iconic checkerboard moss garden.

除了楓紅,東福寺有名的是庭園造景師重森三玲在1939年設計的日式庭園。通天橋四百日幣的門票包括開山堂,可以看看東福寺其中一個禪意庭園造景,其他庭園就要另外付四百日幣的門票參觀。

 

When to Visit Tōfuku-ji for Fall Colors 東福寺楓紅

Fall color season here is from mid November to early December. In 2017 at this temple, the leaves started turning around November 10 and starting falling around December 3. The photos were taken on November 21. We were lucky. The leaves turned red a while ago. There were some rainy days, but it didn’t get too windy or stormy. The fall colors were still in full force when we visited.

東福寺的楓紅通常大概是十一月中旬到十二月初,2017年大概是11/10開始紅,12/3開始落葉 (又是卡大說的),我們是11/21去的,運氣很好,雖然已經紅了一段時間,京都也下了幾天雨,但看起來風雨沒有太大,11/21去的時候楓葉還是很漂亮。

 

How to Get Here

Tōfuku-ji is very accessible. You can take Keihan Main Line or JR to the Tōfukuji Station. It takes about 10 minutes to walk here from the train station. You can also take Kyoto City Bus routes 202, 206 or 207.

Build in at least an hour to walk around the temple. We spent about an hour 40 minutes here.

I would recommend going to Tōfuku-ji in the fall, but you do need to weigh your fall color destination options carefully. Lots of people crown this temple as the number one fall color spot in Kyoto, and it is easy to get to. However, this temple is indeed very popular and gets really crowded.

東福寺交通很方便,可以搭京阪本線或JR到東福寺站再走十分鐘,或者搭京都市巴士202, 206 或 207。

參觀時間至少要抓個一小時,我們一直拍照,逛了大概一小時四十分鐘。

在京都時間不多的話,賞楓景點真的要慎選,超多人號稱這是京都紅葉第一名所,而且交通又方便,不過東福寺太熱門,人真的多到爆炸,去過一次非常推薦東福寺,但是千萬要有人潮洶湧的心理準備啊!

 

Tōfuku-ji 東福寺, とうふくじ
Nov – early Dec: 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
April to Oct: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Early Dec – March: 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
Admission: ¥400 for Tsuten Bridge (通天橋) and Kaizan-dō (開山堂); ¥400 for Japanese garden landscape
tofukuji.jp

 

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2 thoughts on “Kyoto: Fall Colors at Tōfuku-ji 京都東福寺紅葉

  1. Pingback: Kyoto: Golden Leaves of Ginkgo Trees 京都御苑、西本願寺金黃銀杏 | Near and Far

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