Autumn at Rurikoin temple: Kyoto’s not-so-hidden gem

Although Kyoto is known for its amazing autumn views, Rurikoin Temple surely has the most beautiful. This small temple, relatively overlooked until recently, is incredible. But as photos spread on Instagram, its magnificent landscapes are attracting more and more visitors. This article is dedicated to Rurikoin Temple in Kyoto, a gem which, although rarely listed in guidebooks, is very busy in autumn.

THE most beautiful view

Rurikoin temple is mostly famous for its magnificent view upstairs: the foliage from the outside is reflected on the lacquered wooden table and gives the impression of water. Although the pictures below shows a calm and serene place, appearances can be deceiving! Fortunately, barriers have been installed to avoid crowds in the frame. You usually have to queue to access this iconic table.

Despite a fairly expensive entry price (2000 yen), this temple is prone to long queues which can cause waits up to 2-3 hours just to enter!

When is the best time to visit?

As is often the case, it is best to arrive before opening and during the week. It is popular with Instagramers on vacation and Japanese on weekends. The temple opens at 10am. However the queue starts from 9am. As Rurikoin temple is rather far, crowds tends to arrive a little later.


Ruri-no-niwa is a Japanese style garden with two different views: the one on the ground floor offers a calming view: a thick carpet of moss covers the ground and is crossed by a small river under a backdrop of maple trees. The view upstairs is the exterior foliage reflected on the lacquered wooden table.


Rurikoin was the villa of Prince Sanjō Sanetomi (1837 – 1891), member of the imperial court and politician of the Meiji period. It was renovated in the 1930s and the gardens were added. Shortly thereafter, the villa became a Buddhist temple and its name changed to Rurikoin, which means “lapis lazuli light” (lapis lazuli is a deep blue colour).


Overall, the view itself is worth the wait, but be prepared for a big crowd. Although its admission is quite high compared to other temples in Kyoto, Rurikoin is worth it. It is very popular from mid-November, during its opening period in autumn. It is a genuine oasis of red and gold: a paradise for all photographers. Since the crowd is controlled, it is still much better than the experience in Kiomizu dera! Social media is perfect for judging the day-to-day crowd.

The place is magical but the experience is still clouded by the booming number of visitors. Imagine the conditions if the crowd wasn’t regulated! It is not to discourage you from visiting, but to set expectations. I travel very often to Japan (it was already my 5th visit to Kyoto), I wanted to visit other temples that I had never visited before and that’s why I went to Rurikoin. Even if money isn’t a problem, think about travel time. Indeed, if you only have a few days in Kyoto, I recommend that you visit other nearby temples instead. Kyoto has a lot to offer!

Rurikoin temple is the opposite of an intimate or serene experience. For me, few places are worth the visit in these conditions. However, Rurikoin Temple is the exception in Kyoto, especially in the fall when the landscape turns into a painting.

Opening times

The temple is not open all year round. Check on the official website. The temple opens at 10am however the queue starts at 9am. It is better to go there as soon as possible, especially in autumn. The queue to enter the temple for this ‘view’ will likely take a few hours. The process of entering the temple was very organised. I’ve never seen this in other temples before. Perhaps an idea of ​​what the future holds for all the famous buildings in the world?


Address: 55, Kamitakanohigashiyama, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Yase is located northeast of downtown Kyoto. Arrived at the station, cross the river and walk towards Rurikoin. You will see on the left, the ticket office.