Something not to be missed are the various night visits, special openings and Light-ups of Kyoto gardens during spring and autumn time. In spring, most of them are Sakura Light-ups, however the illuminations of Kodai-ji (高台時) and Entoku-in (圓徳院) last until early May. Entoku-in is a subtemple of Kodai-ji and has dry-landscape-type Zen gardens, while Kodai-ji itself has large grounds stretching up the hills of Higashiyama with several gardens. Seeing them at night is extremely impressive.
At Entoku-in, green and blue light is used to bring out the patterns in the gravel of the gardens. While the weeping cherry tree, a focal point of the Kodai-ji Light-up has long lost its blossoms, the grounds are so large and varied that one hardly notices the loss. The large stone garden has this year a more “dynamical” approach to illumination, featuring changing lights as well as a river of led lights (I could not bring myself to take a picture of it) and a cascade of optical fibers. On me, it had a similar effect as seeing an antique Roman statue dressed up with Christmas lights, but no matter. The rest of the grounds make up for it. The tour runs past several buildings and up the hill, from where one can also catch glimpses of the city lights below. The effect of the lighting of the temple grounds at Kodai-ji is magical. This was already our second time at the Kodai-ji night visit, but it was well worth coming again. Our special favorite is the lit bamboo grove towards the end of the tour (featured here). While the Sakura Light-ups are amazing, The Kodai-ji light-up can match up to them easily. So far, I can only dream of seeing also the autumn leaves illuminated in Kyoto, but I’m sure one day I will make it.