Koetsuji temple

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Why be satisfied with one tea house when you could have seven?

One of the serene tea houses within the beautiful garden at Koetsuji

I have not explored as much as Kyoto as I thought I would when I moved here 3 and a bit years ago. The city really is full of unexpected and special spots. And of course, the season matters. What could be a tranquil but meh spot at one time of year can become spectacular in autumn or spring.

This year has been a strange one in so many ways, but meteorologically as well. A winter without snow was followed by a spring without hanami (though that was more due to the virus than the weather). It rained almost every day in June, though all the typhoons veered away to hit Korea. August was the hottest I’ve ever experienced. And now it feels like autumn switched on overnight. Has it been creeping up and I just missed it?

When I was invited to a social event in a more northern part of the city than I usually visit, I made sure to leave early enough to save me if I got lost, or to give me time to explore. Koetsuji temple seems well known online, but when I visited there were only 5 or so other visitors – all Japanese. It cost 500 yen to enter and they had a short English description.

A view over Kyoto from the garden

The garden is quite big, and enjoyable to meander around. None of the tea houses are open, but they add to the calm scenery.

Apart from Koetsuji, there seem to be a few other nice spots in the area . The slight altitude difference may mean the leaves turn here a little earlier than those in the city. I would recommend the temple as part of an exploratory day trip. There are some cute cafes and restaurants around. The only issue is making sure to catch the right bus, and on time, as they aren’t super frequent. Still, any chance to visit a quiet and seemingly secret spot in Kyoto’s prettiest season.

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