The challenge during autumn in Japan is not finding a gorgeous location, for there are many, but finding a spot where the crowds are thinner, where a photographer can swing their shots without causing injury (to people and the camera), somewhere preferably near to other picturesque hiking spots.
Taima-dera is a 7th century Buddhist temple complex, and home to several National Treasures and Important Cultural Items: twin pagodas, a bell tower and carved statues of Buddha and warriors, black as only ancient wood becomes. Especially cool were the Jikokuten – Buddhist deities – fierce, warrior statues standing atop their defeated demon foes. These, along with the other statues, reside within the three main temple buildings, which visitors can access for an additional 500 yen.
There are also beautiful gardens, and tea houses, though these too come with a little extra charge. It is free to stickybeak across the fence however.
With far less people than any Kyoto temple, but with just as much history and gorgeous scenery to enjoy while meandering, Taimadera is a great autumn day out. Accessible by the Kintestsu Minami-Osaka Line to Taimadera station and a short walk. Limited car parking is available beside the temple for 500 yen, or at a larger space for 600 yen, and 5-10 minutes walk away.