Kansai Spring Travel Guide

10 Best Places to See Cherry Blossom in Kyoto

Kyoto is a very beautiful place to visit, and live, especially in spring and autumn seasons. Hanami makes it a perfect destination to explore all the top recommended cherry blossoms viewing spots. The incredible landscapes here would amaze you with its unique seasonal beauty.

If you ask me a question about which city I do prefer to live in between Tokyo and Kyoto, I would definitely choose it. In autumn, it looks pretty amazing with brightly colored leaves. I had some unforgettable autumn foliage trips there before.

If you are planning to visit Kyoto in April, I mean in early April then you may guess that you hit the jackpot. Yeah!

Beautiful Cherry Blossoms in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

Kyoto’s nature changes throughout the four seasons. Every season has its own unique beauty, creating a mind blowing atmosphere to make everyone happy. It’s always impressive to enjoy the surrounding vistas with friends and family, or even alone.

After experiencing awesome cherry blossoms display in Okinawa, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Matsuyama your next destination should be magical Kyoto city.

You can check out the updated sakura blooming forecast.

1) Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku no michi):

Sakura in Tetsugaku no Michi, Kyoto. Photo Credit:Luca Mascaro at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

The Philosopher’s Path or Tetsugaku no michi is the top hanami spot in Kyoto. There are so many reasons I can explain why this spot is Kyoto’s the number one hanami spot.

This stunning hanami spot often considered one of the best to take a stroll in spring. And it looks absolutely great in early April when all the cherry trees reach their peak. At the time, the place is packed with thousands of Japan enthusiasts and nature lovers.

The path follows a sakura tree lined canal. Would you be surprise if I tell you that there are more hundreds of cherry trees? So the more you walk through the path the more sakura you will see. The canal path starts from Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) and ends in the neighborhood of Nanzenji.

People Enjoy Hanami in Tetsugaku no michi. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

The path is approximately two kilometers long. What?! Can you walk all the way then? I think you can but you better have some rest sometimes on the way sitting under the sakura trees.

You will find many restaurants/food stalls along the way to satisfy your stomach. This is not the end, you can see temples and shrines as well.

2) Okazaki Canal:

Okazaki Canal Cheery Blossoms, Kyoto. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

Okazaki canal seems to me a unique cherry blossom viewing spot in Kyoto. Located outside of Heian Shrine, this incredible site is a must-see-place in Kyoto. In fact, I want you to get to this Shrine where there are many weeping cherry trees that you can see.

A pleasant boat trip on this canal is pretty gorgeous thing to do to admire the surrounding spring vistas. Okazaki canal cruise is the main attraction here along with cherry blossoms.

You don’t have to pay much neither you need a reservation to take this service. If you are thinking of viewing sakura from a boat, there is no option left than this one.

In addition, there is a footpath along the canal that also offers visitors gaze at the beautiful lines of cherry blossom trees.

3) Maruyama Park:

Take a Look at The Big Cherry Tree in Maruyama Park. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

If you ever have been to Higashiyama District,I assume that you have heard of Maruyama park.

The park has a large weeping cherry tree on its spacious grounds. This massive sakura tree attracts millions of tourist every year during hanami. At night, it looks awesome, especially when it’s lit up by lights.

This is not the only massive sakura tree you would like to pay a visit to, there are other giant sakura trees in Japan that could overwhelm you right away.

Enjoy the blossoms visiting this public garden and eat traditional foods from the food stalls that take place in the park. Without doubt, having a cup of tea here would make you feel very relaxing and refreshing. Oh, this one of the best place to see sakura at night.

4) Ninnaji Temple:

Sakura and Ninnaji Temple Pagoda. Photo Credit: Teruhide Tomori at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

Ninnaji temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, I think it deserves to be so. It is a unique temple that was built in 888.

Japan has got a number of World heritage sites and Ninnaji is one of them. Its five-story pagoda is one of the main highlights that you cannot miss visiting alongside the Gotan, the Kannon Hall, the Kondo (main hall), the front gate, and a beautiful pond and rock garden.

Visitors can witness many cherry trees on its grounds, they all look picturesque when they are at full bloom. When you visit this historic temple, please don’t forget to pay a visit to Ryoanji Temple as well. It’s worth the visit!

You can take the direct bus (30 minutes) to Ninnaji temple from Kyoto Station.

5) Kiyomizu-dera Temple:

Kiyomizudera Temple Gate and Sakura. Photo Credit: nekineko at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

Want to see color of spring from a wooden stage?

Located in eastern Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera is one of the must-see Buddhist temple in Kyoto. It has a big wooden stage from where visitors can see incredible sakura display. To reach the wooden stage, you have got to walk along the hilly trail, often climbing it could be a daunting task!

Just like Ninnaji temple this famous temple is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage site.

If you can, try to visit the temple in autumn as well. All those colorful leaves that become the main highlights of the temple are just amazing and words can’t explain the views until you experience it in real life.

Visitors can reach Kiyomizu-dera by bus number 100 or 106 from Kyoto Station. Alternatively, if you like to walk, then take a walk for 20 minutes and reach the spot from Kiyomizu Gojo Station.

6) Kamogawa River:

Kamogawa River Sakura, Kyoto. Photo Credit: lensonjapan at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

Have you heard of Kamo River or Kamo-gawa before? It is located in Kyoto prefecture and considered one of the popular cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan.

You can see the river, mountains, do cycling, arrange a picnic party and enjoy leisurely stroll. It provides a picturesque landscape that only an insane guy could say “I don’t like it”.

Locals and tourists alike like to take a walk along the river banks of Kamogawa River. The surrounding vistas in the spring is simply stunning as there are many sakura trees can be found along the river banks.

7) Arashiyama:

Togetsukyo Bridge and Sakura in Arashiyama. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

Located in the western part of Kyoto, Arashiyama is an ideal place to spend half a day. It is a different place that attracts a lot of locals and tourists in the spring.

Every time I had a chance to discover its picturesque landscapes and incredible temple and shrine’s buildings, they all have astonished me with lots of excitement.

It has a number of famous tourists attractions including numerous Buddhist temples, shrines, parks, bamboo grove and bridges. Tenryuji Temple, Daikakuji Temple, Okochi-Sanso Villa, Arashiyama Bamboo Groves, Jojakkoji Temple, and Togetsukyo Bridge are the interesting landmarks you should explore in Arashiyama.

Besides, activities like Sega Scenic Railway, and Hozu River Boat Tour can offer you sensational views of Arashiyama’s spring nature.

These are all breathtaking places to visit and experience in the spring and autumn. Finally, if you really want to get into the Japanese cherry blossom viewing spirit then you can start it here.

It is a 15-mintute train ride From Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station.

8) Hirano Shrine:

Hirano Shrine Hanami in the Evening. Photo Credit: kuribo at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

This lovely shrine is famous to see night illumination of cherry blossoms in Kyoto. If you are looking to find some exclusive hanami spot that are perfect at night, this is where you should head towards.

According to many, this is one of the peaceful and tranquil places in Kyoto where you would like to spend the whole evening. This is certainly a place to see a variety of cherry trees including a giant sakura tree that grow throughout the shrine compound. When sakura petals start falling, the whole area becomes a place of wonder.

You must visit this wonderful cherry blossom viewing spot in early-April. A leisurely stroll either in the morning or evening will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for sure.

9) Nijo Castle:

Nijo Castle Sakura in Spring. Photo Credit: lucamascaro at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

Once it was the residence of the Tokugawa shoguns, but now it’s a historic landmark that every visitors to Kyoto keen to explore.

The grounds of the castle is large, and showcase a beautiful Japanese landscape garden, plum and cherry groves, places, strolling paths and so on. Inside the Ninomaru Palace, visitors can see few masterpieces of Japanese art.

Late and early blooming cherry trees can be found here in the Nijo castle’s grounds. To view early cherry blossoms here in this spot, you have got to come here in Late March while on the other hand if you wish to see late sakura then please get here before end of mid April.

You will be happy seeing sakura along with Nijo castle, its moat, walls, inner garden, and the gate. If you are a first time visitor to Kyoto to experience its hanami, why don’t you travel to Nijo castle?

10) Kyoto Botanical Garden:

Weeping Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto Botanical Garden. Photo Credit: kimon at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.

This is one of the cherry blossom viewing spot that you need to see in Kyoto. Anyone interested in exploring diversity in plants, should pay a visit to this popular attraction.

Kyoto Botanical Gardens is more than a botanical garden! In order to see Kyoto’s impressive seasonal changes you must visit the garden as it houses more than 12,000 species plants including cherry, plum, camphor, maple, and so on.

The entire area showcases beautiful things that can easily put a smile on your face. Alongside viewing variety sakura blossom, visitors can see roses of different colors.

There you can see lot of weeping cherry trees and white sakura so called (somei yoshino). They are wonderful to observe, and perfect objects to be photographed.

That’s it! The above are the best hanami spots you can visit in Kyoto. Just to inform you that Kyoto becomes a crowded place during hanami, so before your arrival, make hotel reservation in advance. I wish you have a good time in Kyoto visiting all these famous sakura viewing spots.

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