Measuring over 240.000 square meters and filled with 12.000 different varieties of plantlife, Kyoto Prefectural Botanical Garden is counted as the best in Japan. Originally built as part of an exhibition for the coronation of Emperor Taisho in 1913 but not completed until 1923 due to lack of funding, the botanical gardens were the first public botanical garden in Japan. Within the grounds you will discover a vast lawn with countless cherry trees as well as a rose garden. During spring and summer the gardens offer a great place for recreation and relaxation for any people while they can enjoy and learn about the plant life around them.
Photo: Tatters ❀ on Flickr
On the north side of the garden is a natural forest and the so-called “Plant Ecology Garden” where you can see a variety of mountain plants. The forest is one of Kyoto’s favorite spots to go to in autumn when the leaves of the maple and gingko trees start changing their colors.
Photo: Z4nclr4 on Flickr
The greenhouse was added in 1992 and has since then become the garden’s pride. Featuring nine different zones, from tropical to subtropical, the greenhouse is planned out to be strolled around in.
Amongst the 25.000 plants in the greenhouse is a specimen of the largest blooming flower in the world, a rafflesia and recently, in 2013, the Night Flower Garden opened. As Japan’s first facility of this kind, you can experience to blooming of nocturnal flowers which only do so during the night in very dim light.
Photo: Shoichi Masuhara on Flickr
After your visit the gardens, why not take a look around the neighborhood? Kitayama Dori, near the entrance, is a nice residential street with several fashionable shops, boutiques and trendy cafés and restaurants lining it. Here you will also find the main store of Malebranche, a renowned artisan pastry and sweets store in Kyoto with delicious Shin Matcha Opera Cake, a layered green-tea cake.
Alternatively, you could even combine your visit to the botanical gardens with a visit to the Kyoto Concert Hall located nearby. The concert hall organizes classical music performances quite regularly and tickets can be purchased online in English or at the box office and LAWSON convenience stores.
Photo: Hidetsugu Tonomura on Flickr
Access, opening hours and admission fee
The botanical gardens are located in the northern part of Kyoto past Shimogamo Shrine and Kyoto University. From Kyoto Station and Karasuma you can take the Kyoto City Subway to Kitayama Station, exit 3 while from Demachiyanagi Station Kyoto City Bus 1 stops at “Shokubutsuen mae” which is about 5 minutes from the gardens.
Photo: Don Shall on Flickr
While the gardens are open between 9:00 and 17:00 with a last entry at 16:00, the greenhouse closes one hour earlier. Furthermore, the site is closed from December 24th until January 4th. The admission fee is 200 yen for adults, 150 yen for high school students and just 80 yen for elementary and junior high school students.