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10 of the Best Things to Do in Kyoto in Autumn on a Mindful Trip

Learn about things to do in Kyoto Japan in Autumn. Plan a mindful Fall Kyoto itinerary. Discover the best things to do in Kyoto in the Fall.
What is there to do in Kyoto, Japan?  After a crazy and amazing few days in Tokyo, we were looking for an experience that was much more zen. 

We took the high speed train from Tokyo to Kyoto. When we arrived, we discovered ten ways that you can appreciate the points of interest in Kyoto in a mindful way; slowing down to really appreciate the places around you.

Woman with umbrella dressed in traditional clothing in Kyoto Japan

1. Go Leaf Peeping in Kyoto to Identify the Perfect Specimen 

We visited Kyoto during the peak of Autumn foliage.  As we walked among Kyoto's famous temples, I leaned in to the various trees looking for that perfect specimen.  

I must have spent hours happily wandering around with my camera admiring the shape and color of the Fall leaves.  If you can visit Kyoto during the Autumn, I highly recommend it.  

We visited at the end of November and got extremely lucky.  Normally the leaves change much sooner than this. You can get predictions of the timings for peak foliage here.
Things to do in Kyoto in Autumn? See colorful Autumn Leaves

2. Observe the Parade of Historical Fashion in Kyoto

Take time to look around in Kyoto and you'll soon notice a surprising and lovely thing. In the midst of the tourists and leaf peepers are ladies decked out in gorgeous silk kimonos and precarious wooden sandals.  

We saw couples arm in arm in traditional garb.  We were sitting and admiring a zen garden in one of the temples when a lady with impeccably done hair complete with a fresh flower tucked into it sat down beside us.  I felt transported to another time and place.
Things to do in Kyoto in Autumn: Observe the fashion show of traditional dress

3. Relax in Kyoto's Temples by Day 

Temples are the main attraction in Kyoto.  By day, let the sun warm your body and heart as you explore the beautiful grounds.
Things to do in Kyoto in Autumn: Temple in the Sun

4. Watch the Lights Flicker in Kyoto's Temples by Night 

Kyoto's temples should also be experienced at night.  There are many fewer tourists at this time so you may feel as if you have the place to yourself.  Particularly around the holidays, the temples are lit up in all their glory and open to admiring eyes.
What to do in Kyoto in Autumn: Experience Temples at Night

5. Philosophize with a Stroll Down Philosopher's Walk in Kyoto

Philosopher's Walk is an idyllic walking path connecting the various temples on the outskirts of Kyoto.  Take a moment to reflect on the experience and how lucky you are to be strolling through such luxurious surroundings.
Collage of photos of Philosopher's Walk in Kyoto Japan in the Autumn

6. Marvel at the Scale of Kyoto's Bamboo Forest 

Kyoto is also home to a sizable bamboo forest.  While the paths through the forest are definitely crowded, take a moment to walk to the trail's edge and look off into the distance into the thick grove.  

Then look up and marvel at the sheer magnitude of what you are seeing and the awesomeness of nature.
Things to do in Kyoto in Autumn: Explore the Bamboo Forest

7. Seek out a Tasty Treat at Nishiki Market in Kyoto

Even in the city of Kyoto itself, a slower pace and mindful experiences await.  Nishiki covered market is an excellent place to go.  Observe the details in each stall.  

What is the owner proudly offering?  What things might you experience for the first time here...maybe some octopus on a stick?
Things to do in Kyoto in Autumn: Nishiki Market

8. Take the Path Less Traveled and Ride Kyoto's Randen Street Car 

There are many options to get around in Kyoto including train and bus transportation.  We took the opportunity to explore a bit on foot after taking the bus.  

We were rewarded for our efforts when we stumbled upon the terminus of Kyoto's Randen Street Car, a mode of transportation more than 100 years old.  

We boarded the lively purple train and rattled our way to the far terminus where we disembarked to explore more of the temples in the region.
What to do in Kyoto in Autumn: Ride the Randen Street Car

9. Sip Sake and Savor a Fine Meal in Kyoto

We took time to wander down the back alleys of Kyoto in search of a fine Japanese meal.  I couldn't tell you the name of the restaurant we went to.  

I took a photo of the sign out front so in theory I could find it again but it was all in Japanese.  In the end it doesn't really matter.  We wandered into a warm and cozy haven and sipped sake while watching the waiters and chef bustle around us. 

We patiently waited for our Sukiyaki (meat or tofu chunks in broth served in an iron pot over a heat source) to cool off enough to sample.  

We savored it slowly (by necessity so we wouldn't burn ourselves) but appreciated the opportunity to slow down a bit and truly enjoy a mindful Japanese meal.
Things to do in Kyoto in Autumn: Fine Dining in Kyoto including Sukiyaki

10. Remember Your Loved Ones While Shopping for Treats in Kyoto

Omiyage (Japanese souvenirs) are an important part of the culture in Japan.  Japanese will always bring back something for friends and family when they travel.  

There are tons of omiyage shops in tourist places and lining the train station to make this ritual as convenient as possible for busy people on the go.  

Take part in the ritual in Kyoto and buy some treats for yourself to enjoy now and slowly consider and compare the lavishly gift-wrapped and decorated boxed treats for your loved ones back home.  
What to do in Kyoto in Autumn: Shopping for Treats
Kyoto is the ideal counterpart to the frenetic pace of Tokyo.  You won't regret slowing down to experience the points of interest in Kyoto in the most mindful way possible.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: There are so many cool things to do, not to mention unique Japanese foods to try. Looking for ideas of places to visit in Japan? I suggest:
Let all your preconceived stereotypes about Japan be tested with these amazing destination ideas.

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Things to do in Kyoto in Autumn on a trip to Japan


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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 10 of the Best Things to Do in Kyoto in Autumn on a Mindful Trip
10 of the Best Things to Do in Kyoto in Autumn on a Mindful Trip
Learn about things to do in Kyoto Japan in Autumn. Plan a mindful Fall Kyoto itinerary. Discover the best things to do in Kyoto in the Fall.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog