As beautiful as the autumn leaves in Tenryū-ji’s garden might have been, they were but a taste of the seasonal splendour that had spread all across the hills of Kyōto’s Arashiyama district.
The next stop in our Arashiyama excursion was a brief walk away from the rear entrance of Tenryū-ji – a much shorter distance than the indirect route on the following map might suggest.
Just after passing through Arashiyama’s famed bamboo grove, we followed a sloping driveway that branched off from the main road and soon arrived at the gate of Ōkōchi Sansō, once the private country retreat of veteran actor Ōkōchi Denjirō (1898-1962). The villa itself, whilst quite lovely to look at…
…isn’t the main attraction here. What most visitors come for are the splendid gardens, which look beautiful in any season but are arguably at their best during the fall.
We followed the stone-paved path as it wound its way gently up the hillside, reaching its climax near a small rest-house with stunning views of the city and its surrounding mountains. Here, one might easily conjure up an image of the villa’s late owner at his leisure, perhaps reclining in comfort with a book and a bowl of tea close by … and an incredible vista laid out before his eyes.
From here, we gradually made our way back down, whilst continuing to appreciate the many scenes of beauty that unfolded with every step we took.
The price of admission included a bowl of tea and a small sweet, served in a lovely teahouse near the entrance to the estate.
Ahh, how refreshing.
After giving time for our weary feet to recover, we set out once more and worked our way northwards to the hillside temple of Jōjakkō-ji.
The main hall was undergoing restoration work at the time, but this had almost no impact on our visit. After all, we didn’t come here for the temple itself, but for the gorgeous autumn foliage.
And by gorgeous, I mean drop-dead stunning. This relatively small temple compound probably had some of the best colours we’d seen on this trip. I already knew from a previous visit that this was a great place to view the trees, but the memories of that day did little to dull the experience I was now happily reliving.
There was plenty more to see in Arashiyama, but my parents were feeling tired and we were all quite famished. After a long trek towards the nearest railway station, broken by a quick snack of mitarashi dango bought from a roadside stand…
…we headed back to Kyōto Station for lunch, a breather, and a chance to decide where to go next.
To be continued.
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