Translated by MATCHA
The Weeping Cherry Trees In Okazaki, Kyoto
Written by MATCHA
Okazaki, Kyoto is one of the best places to see the shidarezakura, or weeping cherry blossoms. In fact, Okazaki is full of great places to see a variety of these spring favorites. If you are planning a trip to Kyoto in the spring, a stop here is a must!
If you are planning on visiting Japan during the spring, you will certainly want to have an itinerary based around seeing as many of the places that are known for their fantastic sakura, or cherry blossoms. Okazaki, Kyoto is one of those places, where visitors can enjoy the sight of the old city alongside several different varieties of cherry blossoms.
Heian Jingu Shrine and its Famous Sakura
Within the shrine garden of Heian Jingu Shrine, visitors can enjoy the striking contrast of the vermilion architecture of the shrine and the stunning shidarezakura, or weeping cherry blossoms, reflected in the surface of the pond. These trees are also expertly illuminated at night, making this a spot you will want to check out twice to compare the fantastical sights of day and night.
The great Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki, who wrote from the Meiji to Showa eras loved these weeping cherry trees. They are said by many to resemble great pink clouds, and are a well-loved sight by both locals and visitors from around the country and world. These blossoms also bloom in the late spring, and there is an annual festival held in April which is a must for travelers to the Okazaki area.
The shobikan (guest house) and taiheikaku (tower bridge) are the two best viewpoints for the cherry blossoms around the pond in Heian Shrine’s precincts. The sight of the ancient architecture against a sea of pink is incredible. As this is a very popular spot, however, we strongly recommend visiting in the early morning or before the shrine garden closes at night, in order to avoid the crowds. Both the shobikan and taiheikaku were originally built for the Kyoto Exposition at the Kyoto Imperial Palace, but were reconstructed in their current locations in 1913.
Cherry Trees Are Everywhere in Okazaki
The Keage Incline, where a Meiji era railway line remains, is full of superb somei yoshino cherry trees. This railway was built to carry ships, but has been out of operation since the Second World War. The contrast of the ruins and the sakura trees really speaks to the transience of the world.
The great Nanzenji Temple is another well-known sakura spot in Kyoto. Here you can enjoy the truly Japanese experience of seeing cherry blossoms against numerous examples of traditional Buddhist architecture.
If you like animals, a trip to the Kyoto Municipal Zoo is a great option for those traveling with children. This zoo has been known for its cherry blossoms since its opening 110 years ago, and the views from the Ferris wheel are wonderful.
Jikkokubune - Biwako Canal Cruise
If you have the time in your schedule, then why not take a cruise along the Biwako canal and enjoy the flowers from the water? The sight of these cherry blossoms against the water is one that will surely stay with you.
The sakura are illuminated here from the end of March to the second week of April, and a special river cruise operates at this time. Ticket reservations and inquiries are all available online, via their website, which is included at the bottom of this article.
Don’t miss out the event if you are in Kyoto during the spring!
Jikkokubune Sakura Cruise
Please refer to their website for the most uptodate information on scheduling and prices.
In co-operation with the Kyoto-Okazaki area portal site, Kyoto Okazaki Concierge. Photos from the "In The Capital" by: 三村博史, 奥村喜信, 小幡豊, 木村充宏, 内藤貞保, 仲村節也, 平井豪, 前田欣一, 有本真紀Kyoto-Okazaki Concierge