Improving the understanding of land use and land cover is a major research challenge for the human-environmental sciences and is essential for many aspects of global environmental research. Considering seasonal vegetation dynamics or phenological dynamics in multi-year series leads to a broader view of land use and land cover. This study is based on the hypothesis that a pixel representing a complex but consistent land use has a typical, distinct and repeated temporal pattern of vegetation index inter-annually, which can be used as characteristic signatures for land use classification. Considering the seasonal events and climatic variability in Indonesia, we characterized the temporal vegetation dynamics of long-term land use by using multi-temporal Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) enhanced vegetation index 16-day composite data from 2001 to 2007, and then generated a land use map using those characteristics. Accuracy assessment of the results showed the need to evaluate such methods for land use types that do not have a consistent yearly pattern. On the other hand, the identification of the intensive agriculture lands, such as paddy rice and upland, was satisfactory. Although the mixed pixel issue is quite problematic when using MODIS data, the results indicate that MODIS data offer great promise for characterizing seasonal as well as multi-year variation at large scales. Indeed, the methodology proposed in this research distinguished among many specific land use classes based on temporal land cover information properties. Characterization of temporal vegetation dynamics patterns would provide sufficient, significant and useful information regarding the patterns of land use; consequently it should be possible to consider the actual, subtle nature of inter-annual land use change as well as overall land use.