Autumn means fall foliage and Kinosaki Onsen’s surrounding areas with its ancient temples and shrines, inspiring castle towns and picturesque landscapes, are the perfect place to witness Japan’s beautiful autumn colours.
The countryside town of Tanto is home to Ankokuji, a beautiful temple backed by bright red leaves in the fall, a Zen Buddhist temple with a known history dating back as far as 1345. It is part of the Daitokuji branch of the Rinzai School, which is one of the three Zen sects of Buddhism in Japan. The temple burned down in a large accidental fire in 1717 but was later rebuilt to the current building seen today. Ankokuji Temple is most famous for the 160-year-old Dodan-Tsutsuji (Enkianthus perultas) trees that were planted in the back of the temple when the temple’s main hall was reconstructed in 1904.
In autumn, usually the middle of November, these trees become a vibrant red, making the view from the main temple look like a living painting. It is truly a one-of-a-kind sight that you do not want to miss. It is best to arrive before the sun starts to set. This temple is best reached by car, which you can rent here.
For the ultimate autumn fairy tale, head to Izushi Castle Town, an old castle town located about 40 minutes from Kinosaki, popular for its nostalgic atmosphere of old Japan. Wander around castle ruins, shrines, and temples and admire some of the local products such as “Izushi Sara Soba” and “Izushi Yaki” (pottery).
In Kinosaki Onsen itself, Onsenji Temple is an autumn sight to behold. This temple is dedicated to a Buddhist saint who, according to legend, prayed for 1000 days to bring forth spring water to Kinosaki.