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One of the six major Rinzai branch Zen temples of Kyōto, Tōfuku-ji is synonymous with autumn colours amongst Japanese. In the early 1990s, in a time when Kyōto was debating not how to solve the problem of too many, but a lack of visitors to the capital, Tōfuku-ji’s autumn colours were among the first places to be publicized all around Japan, giving birth to the slogan “Ah, Kyoto. Let’s go!” (Sou da, Kyōto, ikō!). Hugely successful, thirty years later, and this is an understatement, Tōfuku-ji is crawling with (mostly domestic) tourists every November. Instead of worrying about a lack of travellers, photography of the popular spots has recently (2018) even been forbidden during peak season, as the rise of smartphones had transformed everybody into passionate photographers.
Aside from peak season, discovering the grounds of Tōfuku-ji and its sub-temples is worthwhile throughout the seasons. As a stroll through mountains and local neighbourhoods from Sennyū-ji and Unryū-in towards the neighbouring Fushimi Inari Taisha, for example, the architecture and layout of Zen temples can be discovered in relative calm. Although perhaps not as spectacular as the gardens of Tenryū-ji or Kennin-ji, Tōfuku-ji’s gardens are still worth visiting.

Admission: grounds open year-round
Nearby places of interest: Sennyū-ji, Unryū-in Fushimi Inari Shrine

Autumn foliage at Tōfuku-ji.

Autumn foliage at Tōfuku-ji.

Summer 夏
Autumn 秋
Winter 冬
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