Last year I went to Kyoto for a couple of days and even though it was early December, the weather was still very warm and I managed to find this great little Japanese garden nestled among the houses and roads in Kyoto. The garden had a very uniform design, but with the falling leaves on the ground and in the water it had such charm and really brought to mind the bright reds and oranges of autumn leaves. Shōsei-en Garden is reasonably small and located within Kyoto and not on its outskirts, so it is very easy to walk to. I took a scenic walk from my hotel near the train station and it only took 15 minutes to get to it.
The garden has a couple of sections, with small houses and walkways dotted around the enclosed space. This pagoda-esque one was nestled on the water, and the falling leaves from the canopy left flashes of yellow on the surface.
Even with it being mid-December, all the trees have leaves and there was one in particular that really caught my attention. Nestled right in the corner, the Japanese maple flamed red and lit up the whole garden. In fact, it was the only tree that had a gaggle of Japanese tourists around it, snapping photos in awe of its colour. Not many places in the world have that much respect for nature, and the seasons are treated almost religiously in Japan.
The pond is beautiful in the garden and the view from the other side of the pagoda mirrors the trees.
Flashes of yellow.
Koi begging for food.
The walk to the Kyoto Art Museum, which was amazing. The oranges on that tree fell down into the canal and floated away from the bridge. You can just see them bobbing down.
The shop below sells wooden moulds. Although I couldn’t read the sign above the shop window, I think they are moulds for wagashi, Japanese sugar sweets that are served with great Kyoto green tea.
There is a little cafe by the Art Museum that served these huge risen pancakes. They were not very sweet and were soaked in espresso syrup, bringing them closer to tiramisu than anything else, but they were delicious and served with cold brew coffee.
This is the Art Museum in Kyoto, with some truly wonderful collections. When I was there it was quite empty so I don’t think it will ever be as crowded as the Kinkakuji.
From the art museum to the temple, as any walk within Kyoto will end up with you at least walking past a temple. This time, I went in to see what was inside. Although western churches are beautiful, they do not feel the same as temples. Each of them is readily connected to nature and the shapes inside are genuine and organic. No baroque here.
The main street in Kyoto, Shijo-Dori is only a short walk away. The street next to Gion is mostly filled up with tourist shops, but there are a few gems here and there. My favourite ume shop is on this road, and it offers a variety of pickled plums at varying degrees of sweetness and size. It’s perfect and a must go!