Want to enjoy the first sights of spring in the Kansai area?
Kyoto is definitely the city offering the most beautiful scenery to enjoy the blooming cherry trees.
The old and well preserved temples and shrines as well as the many traditional old houses and gardens in the Kyoto area will give you a flashback to hundreds of years ago in the land of the rising sun. Japanese have always embraced the cherry blossoms so this is a very traditional and pure part of the Japanese culture.
Why not join them and gaze at the flowers in Kyoto?
We picked the best spots for you to enjoy the sakura like a local:
The Maruyama Park is located close to the famous Gion area (at the end of the Shijo avenue) and was opened in the year 1886.
Access this park trough the large gate of Yasaka Shrine (you won’t miss it!) and enjoy this very old shrine and its architecture from the year 670.
Once you passed the shrine a large park will open itself to you with many cherry trees and a Japanese garden with pond.
In case you forgot to bring your own food don't be upset - there are tons of street vendors offering warm food, sweets, snacks and drinks.
Center of attention in this park is probably the large weeping cherry tree close to the pond. This used to be a very old tree which unfortunately died in 1947 but was replaced with a new one, which we can enjoy these days.
The Maruyama park is the most popular hanami spot in Kyoto - so beware of the crowds!
If you save your spot early you can sit, eat and drink right below the many cherry trees, so this is definitely a must-see location! Plus at night time the cherry trees are lit up - so you can enjoy any time!
Access: 3 min. walk from Gion District along the large Shijo avenue
In the Sueyoshicho Area of Kyoto (close to the Gion Shijo Subway Station) is a small street called Shirakawa-minami street.
This and its surrounding area offers a very special view on the ancient Kyoto with narrow streets, traditional houses and a lovely creek running alongside.
Small bridges will invite you to exclusive restaurants and the cherry blossoms hanging over the creek are a perfect photo location.
If you are lucky you might also spot a real Maiko.
This area is not a party spot but perfect for a nice and scenic walk while soaking up the Kyoto vibes. This location is also stunning at night.
Access: 3 min. walk from Gion Shijo subway station
When in the center of Kyoto, the Kamo river also offers amazing views and invites to a relaxing stroll. Many cherry trees will guide your way along the river bench.
Simply sit down on the grass when tired and watch the people strolling around or enjoying some food in one of the various restaurant balconies across the river.
If you are lucky you might also spot some cranes hunting for fish!
Access: Right at Gion Shijo subway station
Photo : Izu navi on Flickr
The Keage incline is an old railway which was used until the year 1948, to transport boats in one segment of the Biwako Canal. These days, it is a famous cherry blossom spot during the spring season.
You can walk along the tracks, take a boat tour there and the Nanzen-ji temple is just a few steps away.
Access: 1 min. walk from Tozai Line Keage Station
Philosophers Walk (Tetsugaku no michi)
Located close to the Ginkaku-ji (Temple of the silver pavilion) you can find the Philosophers Walk.
The “Tetsugaku no michi” is a pedestrian street alongside a small canal with many cherry trees.
It is told that the Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro was walking this path to relax and gather his thoughts - that’s how this street got its name.
If you like to walk, this is your spot for the hanami season! To complete the path alongside small artisan shops and several shrines it takes about 30 minutes, however you may as well just check it out for some photos and relax in cafe nearby.
The cherry trees form a little tunnel over the canal and small stone bridges across add some extra flair to the sight.
Access: Take the bus No.5 to Ginkaku-ji michi
Photo : camknows on FlickrIn this season you will find many tourists (Japanese and foreigners alike) wearing a kimono.
If you would like to try that as well, there are countless kimono renting places in Kyoto where you can make an appointment and get dressed in your favorite colors and even get your hair set too.
(I personally own kimonos myself and tried a rental kimono in Kyoto before and have to say it’s a lovely experience!)
For your day in Kyoto make sure to have enough space on your cameras memory card and that the battery is fully charged - you will end up taking much more photos than you expected, because the scenery here and there will be breath taking!
Have a great time!