Gion's Best Sakura Spots
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Gion's Best Sakura Spots

Kyoto 2015.03.22

Need a place to view the blooming Sakura in Kyoto? Gion has some great options!

Translated by Masahisa Matsunuma

Tohoku Reconstruction Coordinator and Business Consultant. Been to 44 out of 47 prefectures of Japan. Loves sake and wine.

Written by まいまい京都

The best part of spring in Kyoto is the cherry blossoms. Today let me introduce you to two famous places to view cherry blossoms in Kyoto. One is the gorgeous yozakura (evening cherry blossoms) in the Gion district and the other the shidarezakura (weeping cherry blossoms) illuminated at night in Maruyama Park.

Gion Shirakawa: the Atmosphere of Old Kyoto

A three minute walk north from the Gion-Shijo Station of the Keihan line takes you to the stone paved streets of Gion, a distinctive area of Kyoto. Along the Shirakawa Canal, somei yoshino and shidarezakura blossoms have fully bloomed and many people come to enjoy them. Gion is one of the biggest hanamachi (geisha districts) where the beautiful historic townscape of old Kyoto is preserved and, if you are lucky, you might run into maiko (apprentice geisha) or even a geiko (another name for geisha) as you stroll here.

From March 28th to April 6th, the yozakura are illuminated at night. They add color to the night scenery with the flowing river and lanterns of the numerous ryotei, or traditional Japanese restaurants, in the background. Illuminated cherry blossoms make for an even more charming atmosphere in night time Gion district, where other popular sites include the Tatsumi Bridge over the Shirakawa Canal and Tatsumi Daimyojin Shrine, where the god of entertainment is enshrined.

Beautiful Maruyama Park: One of the Best Shidarezakura in Kyoto

A 15 minute walk east of the same Gion-Shijo Station takes you to Maruyama Park, a spot you simply have to visit when in Kyoto. This is one of the best sakura spots in the city and what will capture your eyes the most is the magnificent tree called the Gion Shidarezakura).

Actually, the current tree is the second generation from the original. The first one was already here at the time of the Edo era. In the Meiji era, this area was developed as a park and since then the cherry tree has attracted many visitors. The beautiful figure and appearance of the first has been taken over by the next generation and it brightens up the spring nights of Kyoto, and stands as an essential part of the city at this time of the year.

During the sakura illumination show of the Maruyama Park, a kagaribi or bonfire is lit and cherry blossoms are magically illuminated over sakura viewing parties. This display lasts until 1 o’clock in the morning, which means that even those working until late in the evening can see this spectacular sight.

If you will be traveling in Kyoto during the spring, then please make a special trip to the Gion area and see these two stunning sakura spots. You won’t regret it!

Information

Gion-Shirakawa Yozakura Illumination
Address: Kyoto, Higashiyama, Sueyoshicho, Gion-Shirakawa-minami Avenue
Hours: 18:00-22:00, depends on blooming season
Nearest Station: Gion-Shijo Station, Keihan Line
Access: 3 minute walk; take the exit #7 and turn left. Go straight and turn left at Nawate Avenue. Go straight and you will see it on the right.
Admission: Free
Website: Gion Sakura (Japanese)

Maruyama Park
Address: Maruyamacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Hours: Sunset to 01:00, depends on blooming season
Nearest Station: Gion-Shijo Station, Keihan Line
Access: 10 minute walk; take exit #7 and turn left. It is located behind Yasaka Shrine.
Admission: Free
Phone: 075-643-5405

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