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What better place to enjoy the cherry blossom season in spring than the cultural capital of Japan, and arguably the most beautiful city of them all?! Here is the Kansai Local guide on the best places to enjoy the Sakura (cherry blossom) including times at which to visit and enjoy the full bloom (Mankai) in Kyoto. Keep an eye on the Sakura forecast for up to date cherry blossom forecasts.
►Location: North Central Kyoto
One of the greatest spots in Kyoto, and probably Kansai, to see Cherry blossom. The Botanical Garden is located north up the Kamogawa River, just between the fork. Admission is 200 yen to the actual park/garden, wherein spring summer and autumn you will see the most incredible seasonal foliage and plants. Spring is the best time to come here as the Sakura (cherry blossom) it’s breathtaking, and you are allowed to have Hanami (cherry blossom picnic party) here! There is also a conservatory/greenhouse where tropical and exotic plants are growing, and you can explore a rainforest like an exhibition. Admission for the greenhouse is 200 yen.
As it gets late into the Cherry blossom season, the petals start to fall off. If you catch it at the right time, the wind blows and petals fall off like a snowstorm, and it really is a stunning spectacle. Keep an eye on the Sakura Forecasts!
People enjoying picnics under the Cherry Blossom, a national favourite activity called 'Hanami' - Cherry blossom party!
For the flower lovers, check out the conservatory in the middle of the park. It houses exotic plants and flowers
►Location: North central Kyoto
One of the most beautiful and iconic walks through Kyoto, it is a must do, Especially in spring as the pathway is lined with hundreds upon hundreds of Cherry trees. In Spring the view is quite literally breathtaking. The walk starts off by Ginkakuji (Silver Temple) and cuts across the northern neighbourhood of Higashiyama following a canal, and ends up by Nanzenji. There are some nice little temples on the way which are worth taking 15 minutes to look at. My suggestion is to wake up early if you are there in the spring, to enjoy the walk when there are fewer people.
The Philosopher’s walk got its name as it was thought that the famous Kyoto university professor Nishida Kitaro used to meditate on the path and indeed walked it on a daily basis.
►There is no admission fee
►Location: Central Kyoto
Maruyama Park is one of the most famous parks in Kyoto. It is located next to the Yasaka Shrine (They’re joined together), it is an excellent place to enjoy the Sakura (Cherry Blossom). In Fact, the Sakura here is probably the most impressive, along with the Kyoto Botanical Gardens mentioned above.
The other great thing is you can ‘Hanami’ here (Cherry blossom picnic party). They also open some food stalls and sitting areas under the Sakura and you can buy some food and drinks and enjoy the beautiful blossom. The best time is to come during the day, from 11:00 till around 16:00. Try to avoid weekends as it tends to get very busy. It's nice to walk around the park and up to the north end. There is a temple called Chion-in that has the largest bell in Japan, weighing a whopping 74 tons. Go check it out!
One of the Hanami area in Maruyama park. Pick a spot and enjoy eating and drinking under the Sakura!
►Location: Through central Kyoto
The famous Kamogawa river is my favourite feature of Kyoto by far, and in my opinion, it really is the embodiment of Kyoto spirit.
The river runs through the centre of Kyoto from north to south and is one of the main reasons Kyoto is located there. The River is a great social hub for all sorts of mini-communities and gatherings and just a general great community. If you take a stroll along any central Kyoto section of the river you’ll observe elderly people playing bowls and buskers playing various instruments, all the way to people practising lines for a play or recital and people painting, and everything in between. The best thing to do is buy a bento box, a beer, and go sit on the river all day and people watch - It's great fun!
The Sakura (Cherry blossom) is fabulous all along the river so it is the perfect place to see the blossom and enjoy the Kyoto atmosphere.
The Miyako Odori takes place annually every Spring at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo, which is an entertainment house located in the Kamishichiken district, which is similar to the Geisha district of Gion, but it is actually older and less busy/touristy! The Venue turns into a beer garden during the summer. You can enjoy a tea ceremony with Geiko and Maiko, and then the show which follows shortly after. The Show is a mixture of music, dancing and singing, rather like a musical. It is a great experience!
Make sure you put your phones and cameras away as it is strictly no photos!
►Tickets are around 4800 yen (including matcha green tea service/ceremony).
►For tickets visit https://www.maiko3.com/