If you want to escape the crowds in Kyoto‘s city center in autumn, visit Kameoka. The city that is just a couple of stations away has a couple of amazing fall foliage spots waiting for you to explore. While the shrines and temples in Kameoka aren’t as accessible as the ones closer to Kyoto Station, they won’t be packed with crowds!
The Best Autumn Foliage Spots in Kameoka
- Sagano Romantic Train (嵯峨野トロッコ列車)
- Hozugawa River Boat Ride (保津川下り)
- Anao-ji Temple (穴太寺)
- Izumo-Daijingū Shrine (出雲大神宮)
- Kuwayama Shrine (鍬山神社)
- Jinzōji Temple (神蔵寺)
Tip: If you are after an accommodation facility in Kameoka, consider Sun Royal Hotel Kameoka Ekimae!
Explore Kameoka With a Guided Tour
If you prefer to be guided when you visit Kameoka, how about joining the below tour?
Sagano Romantic Train (嵯峨野トロッコ列車)
The mountains that span between Arashiyama and Kameoka exhibit some of the most spectacular scenery you can find in Kyoto. This scenery changes with the seasons and can best be admired on the seats offered aboard the Sagano Romantic Train, which runs along the Hozu River (保津川). This is why the tickets for the sightseeing train during the cherry blossom and fall foliage seasons are sold out within a couple of minutes!
For more information, please refer to our article on Sagano Romantic Train HERE!
Hozugawa River Boat Ride (保津川下り)
Since we mentioned the Hozu River, some of you might be wondering if there are sightseeing boats you can hop onto.
The 16 km Hozugawa River Boat Ride, also known as Hozugawa River Cruises, is another great way to adore the vivid colors throughout the Hozu Gorge from mid-November to early December.
For more information, please refer to our article on the Hozugawa River Boat Ride!
Anao-ji Temple (穴太寺)
Anao-ji, which has a futon-covered Reclining Buddha, is also a nice place to enjoy the autumn colors. While the precinct isn’t big, the ginkgo and maple trees are the best decorations in the temple. Plus, it has a gorgeous Japanese garden!
For more information, refer to our article on Anao-ji!
Izumo-Daijingū Shrine (出雲大神宮)
If you are after a spiritual place in Kameoka, consider visiting Izumo-Daijingū Shrine (出雲大神宮). The shrine that is tucked in Kyoto‘s beautiful nature has a serene atmosphere. When the weather starts getting colder, the precinct becomes more splendid with different colors in the background. An amazing festival is also held here!
For more information, refer to our article on Izumo-Daijingū.
Kuwayama Shrine (鍬山神社)
If you are looking for autumn foliage in Kameoka, head to Kuwayama Shrine. It is a shrine with so many maple trees that you are guaranteed some stunning photo opportunities no matter where you are and from what angle!
This shrine is one of the few destinations in Kyoto that have the autumn color peak in early to mid-November.
So if you get to Kansai a bit too early and aren’t satisfied with the color elsewhere in the region, Kuwayama Shrine will not let you down (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
According to the legend, Oonamuchi no Mikoto (大己貴命), the main god here, was the one who created the land of Kameoka. Originally, this part of the Tamba Province was a large lake. Oonamuchi no Mikoto descended from the sky and excavated the lake with hoes. The water in the lake was guided to flow out of the lake with the waterway created. With the water gone, the fertile and cultivated land suitable for habitation surfaced.
In 709, the Kuwayama Shrine was built to enshrine the gods as a sign of appreciation from the locals for what was given to them. If you ever wonder why it is called Kuwayama, it is said that the hoes at the time piled up as tall as a mountain (^_-)-☆.
This previously hidden fall foliage spot has become more and more popular nowadays. So the shrine has asked visitors to refrain from bringing tripods and taking commercial shootings in the shrine’s precinct.
Selfie sticks are not allowed when the shrine is packed.
☛ Come on the weekdays. You most likely won’t be surrounded by crowds.
☛ Depending on your preference, you might want to come after 10 am for the fog to clear up.
Kuwayama Shrine’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information
- Kuwayama Shrine is open from 8 am to 5 pm.
- During the autumn foliage season, the admission fee is 300 yen.
- If you are driving, it will cost 500 yen to park your car.
- From JR Kameoka Station (亀岡駅), take Kameoka City’s Community Bus (亀岡市コミュニティバス)’s East Course (東コース), and get off at Kuwayama Jinja-mae (鍬山神社前).
- Please refer to pages 81 (weekdays) and 82 (weekends and public holidays) HERE for the service’s timetable.
Jinzōji Temple (神蔵寺)
For a hidden gem in Kameoka to view the autumn foliage, Jinzōji Temple is the ideal choice.
The temple was established by the famous monk Saichō Daishi (最澄大師) in 790. The wooden statue of Yakushi Nyorai (薬師如来), or the healing Buddha, was carved by Saichō himself.
However, the temple was burnt down in 1575 during the invasion by Akechi Mitsuhide’s forces. Fortunately, the statue of Yakushi Nyorai was saved by the temple’s followers as they hid it in the river close to the temple.
The temple was then rebuilt in 1653. The Yakushi Nyorai statue was carved from the same tree as the Yakushi Nyorai in Enryakuji (延暦寺) in Mt. Hiei or Hieizan (比叡山) and was designated an Important Cultural Property in 1950.
In the precinct of Jinzōji, among the 200 maple trees, the one that draws the most attention is the Japanese maple under the stone steps in front of the main hall. The 400-year-old tree has a height of 13 meters with wide branches.
Under the tree, simple benches are set up, perfect for admiring this maple tree. During the autumn foliage season, traditional dishes will be available to warm you up (*´ω｀).
Important: The broth of the savory dishes may contain meat/seafood.
When the colors peak, the big maple tree will also be illuminated at night!
The best time to see the autumn leaves here is from early to mid-November, earlier than in Kyoto City. This means you will be avoiding the massive crowds during the peak season in Kyoto. This is another reason why Jinzōji is an awesome place to visit in autumn!
Jinzōji Temple’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information
- The temple is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
- The admission fee is 600 yen.
- Parking is free.
- From JR Kameoka Station (亀岡駅), take Kameoka City’s Furusato Bus’s (亀岡市ふるさとバス) route F31, F32, F33, or F34 – Hatano Course (畑野コース), and get off at Green Heights-guchi (グリーンハイツ口).
Discover Other Parts of Kameoka City
Arashiyama in Kyoto is one of the most popular destinations in the prefecture. But Kameoka City’s scenery is as amazing as what you can get in Arashiyama, if not better. And the best thing is, it is only half as crowded!
For more information about the city, please refer to our Kameoka City article (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.