Itinerary Kansai Spring Travel Guide

4 Days in Kyoto Spring Itinerary – Cherry Blossom

In Kyoto, each season offers a different experience. When spring rolls around there, it looks incredibly beautiful and lets visitors to enjoy the surrounding breathtaking spring landscapes. There are so many temples & shrines, old streets, stores, restaurants and also the parks to enjoy.

It’s a famous destination to visit for almost every Japan enthusiast. Are you one of them who want to explore Kyoto’s spring beauty this year during the hanami? Please take a look at this year’s cherry blossom forecast before I take you to most of the notable places across Kyoto.

According to Japan Cherry Blossom Forecast, Kyoto is at its best in early April. But this year, sakura season will arrive earlier!

Visitors walking along the Tetsugaku-no-michi during hanami. Photo Credit: pelican at Flickr.

Kyoto is always packed with endless discoveries whenever you take a trip to this awe-inspiring place, and often you would have to rethink “should I visit this one first or that one?”

My intention here is to keep you stress free with giving more comfort while exploring the cherry blossom spots including the other famous sightseeing attractions spread across Kyoto.

This Kyoto-4 Day itinerary surely offers you the most exciting things to do and see in the spring. Whether you visit Kyoto from either Osaka or Tokyo, make sure you don’t miss the full bloom period. That’s the important thing you should always keep in mind above all.

When you follow this itinerary, make sure you decide to stay overnight in a hotel located nearby Kyoto Station. This hotel can be a perfect choice! And I highly recommend you to read this Kyoto travel guidebook.

Kyoto Spring Itinerary – Day 1

Kyoto Botanical Garden’s weeping cherry trees. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr.

Places of Interest: Kyoto Botanical Garden, Kyoto Imperial Palace, Ginkakuji Temple, Philosopher’s Path, Heian Shrine (optional), Keage Incline, and Okazaki Canal.

During hanami, it is always great to start the day with a trip either to Kyoto Botanical Garden or Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyōto Gosho). Decide yourself which one you would visit first.

Kyoto botanical garden is arguably famous for viewing hundreds of Somei Yoshino & weeping cherry (a popular sakura variety in Japan), and picnicking. Besides, you can experience stunning tulip flowerbed there.

A weeping cherry tree at Kyoto Imperial Palace garden. Photo Credit: mrhayata at Flickr.

Kyoto Imperial Palace, one of the famous historic attractions in Kyoto has a beautiful park called Kyoto Imperial Palace Park. In fact, the Palace is surrounded by this decent and specious park.

Many tourists and locals alike visit the park in the spring with an intention of seeing early-blooming Shidarezakura (weeping cherry trees). You can find them in a small grove located in the northwest corner of the park.

You can gladly spend one and half an hour there. It’s up to you though.

Ginkakuji’s Silver Pavilion. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr.

Take a taxi and head to Ginkakuji – a Zen temple (a designated national treasure), built by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa in 1482.

I will be honest with you that it can be visited all year round, and every day it welcomes hundreds of tourists. Explore Silver Pavilion, the Hondo, Togudo, Sand garden and Moss garden.

The Philosopher’s Path and glorious cherry blossom along the canal. Photo Credit: fortherock at Flickr.

Your next destination would be the Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku no michi). It is one of my favorite cherry blossom viewing spot in Kyoto. It is extremely enjoying when you take a stroll along the path that follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of sakura trees.

Along the way you would discover many small bridges, use them to take awesome photographs of cherry blossoms. Also cafes and restaurants can easily be found along the walkway, so have your lunch there!

The Okazaki canal looks pretty in spring. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr.

If you want to experience something unique out of your trip, take a trip to Heian Shrine. You will find a garden there with many weeping cherry trees.

Whether you visit it or not, make sure you a pleasant boat ride in the Okazaki canal. Before you boarding the sightseeing boat, you should get to Keage Incline. I won’t tell about this hanami spot, leave it alone, just go there and explore something incredible!

The boat departs every 15 minutes from the Nanzenji Boat Pier and return via Ebisugawa Dam to the pier. It is approximately 25 minutes ride, which is a 3 kilometer round trip cruise. Hours: 8:00 – 20:30, Date of operation: March 25 – April 09, 2017, Fare: 1,200 JPY.

I am sure you can cover all these attractions within a day trip!

Kyoto Spring Itinerary – Day 2

The famous wooden stage of the Kiyomizudera. Photo Credit: Wei-Te Wong at Flickr.

Places of Interest: Kiyomizudera Temple, Higashiyama District, Kodaiji Temple, and Maruyama Park, and Kamogawa River.

Today you are going to explore one of Kyoto’s best historic districts called the Higashiyama District with other sightseeing attractions located nearby.

Walking in is like stepping back in time as it is a famous place to experience traditional old Kyoto. The neighborhood has an abundance of important heritage such as old fashioned buildings, streets, and merchants shops.

The rock garden at Kodaiji temple. Photo Credit: zynke at Flickr.

It is always positive to start your trip at Kiyomizudera (a Buddhist temple part of UNESCO World Heritage Site and famous for its wooden stage). The early you visit it the better it would be because it is awfully a crowded place.

Being one of the most visited places in Kyoto, many tourists tend to see this wonder and its surroundings natural beauty, especially in spring and autumn.

Have you ever seen any Japanese rock garden before? If you have not then I strongly recommended you to pay a visit to Kodaiji temple, it is worth a visit!

Gion street and old houses. Photo Credit: Wikimedia commons.

Get ready to take a walk to Kyoto’s most famous Geisha district known as Gion. Often I receive emails from Japan enthusiast asking me “where can I meet/see real geiko or maiko in Japan?”

This is the ideal place to see them, no way guys! You can take your lunch in a restaurant located in this neighborhood.

A truly great festive atmosphere in Maruyama Park. Photo Credit: Wei-Te Wong at Flickr.

Maruyama Park is the next destination after Gion. Locals enjoy their hanami parties in Maruyama Park as it gets decorated gorgeously with colorful festive lanterns, lights, and food carts that surely bring a real hanami atmosphere.

This cherry blossom spot is absolutely great for seeing night sakura. Here cherry trees are lit up in the evening. In addition, you will experience a giant and one of the oldest weeping cherry trees here in this lovely park.

Weeping cherry trees along the bank of the Kamo River. Photo Credit: Tatters at Flickr.

If you are not tired, I would like to suggest you to head to Kamogawa River. You can take a stroll along the river while gazing at the stunning sakura and mountains in the distance.

People who did stroll along the beautiful banks of the river during dusk have enjoyed their time. Guaranteed satisfaction!

In the evening you can spend your time doing some shopping!

Kyoto Spring Itinerary – Day 3

It looks like a giant umbrella, Arashiyama sakura near the Togetsukyo Bridge. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr.

Places of Interest: Arashiyama (Togetsukyo Bridge), Bamboo Grove, Tenryuji Temple, Tofukuji Temple (optional), and Fushimi Inari-taisha.

You shall start your day-3 trip by heading towards Arashiyama. It is one of the highly notable places that you must visit in Kyoto. Its outdoor scenic beauty throughout the year creates a charming atmosphere and it looks like it’s worth returning for.

The Togetsukyo Bridge is said to be the main landmark of beautiful Arashiyama. So, discover it thoroughly by walking across the bridge and sitting under the cherry trees found nearby.

Tenryuji’s impressive landscape garden in spring. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr.

Afterwards you should explore the Tenryuji Temple grounds. It is a world heritage site! It features a gorgeous Japanese landscape garden with temple buildings and walkways.

Please note that is a great place to view fall foliage in Arashiyama.

What a beautiful landscape! Photo Credit: Gary A. K. at Flickr.

Next you pay a visit to another famous landmark, known as the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Take a pleasant stroll through the bamboo grove’s walkway and hopefully it would make your Kyoto trip unforgettable.

You must travel here to see and experience the beauty of a Japanese bamboo grove!

Sagano scenic railway! Photo Credit: supersway at Flickr.

It is time to hop on the Sagano Romantic Train (Sagano Scenic Railway) – a pleasant slow-paced train ride to enjoy the beautiful view of Hozugawa River.

The train runs between Arashiyama and Kameoka and it is a 25-minute train journey highlighting the scenic beauty all the way to the Torokko Kameoka Station.

This sounds very interesting! Photo Credit: John Gillespie at Flickr.

Take the train to get back to Kyoto Station from Umahori Station. According to my experience, you would still have a plenty of time to spend around. Probably it would be best if you make your way to the Fushimi Inari-taisha.

This is an impressive landmark that Kyoto boasts of. Please note that a visit to Kyoto is not complete without visiting this awesome Shinto Shrine that has two dense impressive hiking trails leading you through the two tunnels of thousands orange color torii gates.

Kyoto Spring Itinerary – Day 4

Weeping cherry trees at Haradani-en, Kyoto. Photo Credit: T.Kiya at Flickr.

Places of Interest: Haradanien Garden, Ninnaji Temple, Kinkakuji Temple, and Nijo Castle.

The hanami spots you are going to discover here on day four are great to explore in mid-April.

Today you take a journey to exploring northern Kyoto’s most impressive sakura spots including breathtaking historic landmarks.

Start your today’s expedition by visiting the Haradanien Garden, located in the hills above Kinkakuji Temple. This is one of the most spectacular hanami spots in Kyoto where late blooming cherry blossoms are mostly enjoyed.

Check the forecast before you go there though! There is no need to go there if cherry blossoms there are not in their full glory.

Ninnaji sakura and the five story pagoda. Photo Credit: davidchan991012 at Flickr.

Next up is the Ninnaji Temple. You must spend some time exploring the treasures it highlights such as the Omuro cherry trees, pond & rock gardens, the five story pagoda, goten, and temple gate.

Please note that the temple is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites you could visit in Kyoto.

Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto. Photo Credit: w00kie at Flickr.

Afterwards you head to the greatest Kinkakuji Temple (Temple of the Golden Pavilion). Originally it was built by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu as a villa at the end of the 14th century.

Kyoto counts many UNESCO World Heritage Sites within its borders including this impressive Zen Buddhist Temple.

Stunning weeping cherry blossoms at Nijo Castle grounds. Photo Credit: Robert Young at Flickr.

Nijo Castle is where you are heading towards now. The castle has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1994. You will be stumbled upon the weeping cherry trees planted along the western wall.

In addition, discover Sakura-no-en Garden filled with a large variety of later blooming cherry trees. I also hope you don’t miss exploring the Karamon Gate, Ninomaru Palace, Honmaru, and Ninomaru garden.

You spend rest of the time doing shopping at the Nishiki market or somewhere you prefer to go. All the best and Happy Hanami!


  1. Hi, is it necessary to make pre-sale reservation for Shinkansen train from Tokyo to Kyoto on 1st Apr 2023?

    • Hi, if you are going to use Nozomi Shinkanen (the fastest shinkansen) then purchase your ticket beginning one month prior to departure. Membership registration is required to book your shinkansen ticket. Here is the offical website. Thank you so much.

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