Translated by Shinji Takaramura
12 Great Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots In Kansai: Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, And More
The Kansai Region (Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Hyogo, and Hiroshima) is famous for its many World Heritage sites, delicious cuisine, and sakura during spring. This article introduces 12 great cherry blossom viewing spots in the area that you shouldn't miss in 2020!
Written by MATCHA
Cherry Blossom Viewing in Western Japan: Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and Hiroshima
Kansai, or Western Japan, is an area that includes Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Hiroshima, and Hyogo. The region transforms into a beautiful destination filled with cherry blossoms in the spring.
In this article, we introduce 12 recommended destinations to admire the sakura in 2020.
Cherry Blossom Forecast 2020
Below are the average bloom times for areas in Kansai. Please note that the cherry blossom season for 2020 may be later or earlier than the dates below. Predictions are not available yet as of January 2020.
|Location||First Bloom||Peak Bloom|
|Kyoto||March 28||April 5|
|Osaka||March 28||April 5|
|Nara||March 29||April 5|
|Hiroshima||March 28||April 4|
|Kobe (Hyogo)||March 28||April 5|
1. Kyoto: Maruyama Koen
The famous Gion Yozakura in Maruyama Koen. Photo courtesy of: JAPAN LIBRARY/ © Y.Shimizu/ © JNTO
Maruyama Koen is Kyoto's oldest garden, which opened in 1886. This Japanese garden, which has fountains and wisteria flowers, boasts a wide variety of scenery changing with the four seasons. Japanese-style restaurants, cafes, and an amphitheater with the capacity of 3,000 seats are also available in this garden, making it a place of recreation for the citizens of Kyoto. In spring, about 800 cherry trees bloom, and the garden is filled with tourists. Don't miss the famous shidarezakura (weeping cherry tree), also known as the Gion Yozakura ("night viewing of the cherry trees in Gion"). The illumination emphasizes the beauty of the Japanese cherry trees in bloom.
Address: Kyoto, Higashiyama, Maruyama-cho 473
Nearest Station: Gion-shijo Station (Keihan Railway)
Access: 10 minute walk from Gion-shijo Station or Higashiyama Station (Kyoto Subway Tozai Line)
Website: Maruyama Park/ Kyoto City Official Travel Guide
2. Kyoto: Daigoji Temple
Photo courtesy of JAPAN LIBRARY/ © Q.Sawami/ © JNTO
Daigoji Temple in Kyoto is designated as a World Heritage site.
It is not only a place where the people offer their prayers but also a place where visitors can appreciate precious cultural assets such as the five-storied pagoda and the Sanboin, with its beautifully-kept garden. Daigoji's collection, which consists of 150,000 artifacts such as Buddhist statues and paintings, includes 69,419 national treasures and 6,522 important cultural assets designated by the Japanese government. This temple has played an important role as a guardian of traditional culture.
Visitors can enjoy the cherry blossoms located everywhere on the grounds, along with the prized architecture of the temple buildings. It is said that Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who ruled over Japan more than 400 years ago, came to this temple to view the cherry blossoms.
Address: Kyoto, Fushimi, Daigo-higashi-oji-cho 22
Nearest Station: Daigo Station (Kyoto Subway Tozai Line)
Access: 10-minute walk from Daigo Station
Admission Fee: Adults 1,500 yen, junior/senior high 1,00 yen, elementary free
Website: Daigoji Temple
3. Kyoto: Philosopher's Walk
The Philosopher's Walk (Tetsugaku no michi) is a picturesque path in the city of Kyoto. It is an easily-accessible spot for cherry blossom viewing, and is around 2-kilometers in length, starting from Eikan-do Temple and leading to Gingakuji Temple.
There are approximately 500 sakura trees planted along the path, that visitors can enjoy on a leisurely stroll. Many cats live in the area too, making it an ideal photo opportunity for animal-lovers.
Address: Kyoto, Kyoto, Sakyo
Nearest Stations: Kyoto City Bus Nanzen-ji Mae, Nanzen Eikan-do Mae, Ginkakuji Mae
Access: Short walk from bus stops
Website: https://kanko.city.kyoto.lg.jp/detail.php?InforKindCode=1&ManageCode=3000069 (Japanese)
4. Osaka: Osaka Castle Park
Picture from The 44 Best Cherry Blossom Spots All Around Japan - 2020 Guide
Osaka Castle in central Osaka is considered one of the three best castles in Japan and is also famous for its cherry blossoms. Osaka Castle Park is a spacious park that surrounds the castle. Inside the park is the Nishinomaru Garden, an area right by the castle, home to around 300 sakura trees.
Osaka Castle Park during the cherry blossom season is an ideal photography spot. Visitors can lay down blankets and tarps to have a picnic or hanami party under the delicate pink trees.
Osaka Castle Park
Address: Osaka, Osaka, Chuo, Osaka Castle
Nearest Stations: JR Morinomiya Station, JR Osakajokoen Station, Osaka Metro Morinomiya Station, Osaka Metro Tanimachi Yonchome Station
Access: 10 to 15-minute walk from each station
Admission Fee: 200-yen admission fee (middle school student age and under are free) for the cherry blossom area overlooking the castle.
5. Osaka: The Cherry Trees on the Okawa Riverside
Photo courtesy of: ©Osaka Photo courtesy of the Convention Tourism Bureau
The Okawa River runs along the borderline of Miyakojima Ward and Kita Ward in Osaka City. In this area, the Kema-Sakuranomiya Park on the Miyakojima side and the Zohei-kyoku on the Kita side, are known as the two famous sakura viewing spots in Osaka.
About 4,800 cherry trees line up in the area between Tenmabashi Bridge and the Sakuranomiya Bridge, and a large number of visitors revel into the night.
The Kema-Sakuranomiya Park stretches for 4.2 kilometers on both sides of the Okawa river. Buildings displaying the architecture of the early Meiji period, such as the Zohei-kyoku and the Sempukan (former guesthouse of the Mint Bureau), are located on the right bank. In spring, the tree-lined road turns pink, and the visitors can enjoy the beautiful riverside scenery, as well as the sakura viewing cruise on the Okawa river.
Address: Osaka, Kita, Tenmabashi-itchome
Nearest Station: Sakuranomiya Station (JR Osaka Loop Line)
Access: Located near Sakuranomiya Station
6. Nara: Nara Park
Photo courtesy of: Nara Visitors Bureau ©
When they hear the word Nara, most Japanese think of the deer roaming in Nara Park, a symbolic site in the prefecture. Todaiji Temple, Kofukuji Temple, Kasugataisha Shrine, Nara National Museum and the Shosoin are all located in Nara Park. Wild animals, such as deer and squirrels, are running around in the tree-lined areas, making this park a truly exceptional one.
The cherry blossoms can be seen over the spacious lawn, along with the cute animals, and with this view, the visitors feel that spring has come.
Address: Nara, Nobori-oji-cho 30
Nearest Station: Nara Station (JR and Kintetsu Line)
Access: 5 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, 20 minute walk from JR Nara Station
Website: Nara Park (Japanese)
7. Nara: Koriyama Castle
Photo courtesy of: Yamato-Koriyama City Tourist Association
Yamatokoriyama City, located in the northern area of Nara Prefecture, is famous as a jokamachi (the seat of the daimyo's government), and also for its castle. Koriyama Castle, built in 1580, is one of the best sakura viewing spots in the prefecture. It is known as the gotenzakura ("cherry tree area of the palace"), adored by the people for over 400 years. Every year, from late March to early April, the Yamatokoriyama Castle Festival is held here, and visitors enjoy events such as the illumination of cherry trees, goldfish exhibitions, and parades.
Address: Nara, Yamatokoriyama, Jonai-cho
Nearest Stations: Kintetsu Koriyama Station (Kintetsu Kashihara line), Koriyama station (JR Yamatoji line)
Access: 7 minute walk from Kintetsu Koriyama Station; 15 minute walk from Koriyama Station
Website: Koriyama Castle
8. Nara: Mt. Yoshino
Picture courtesy of JNTO Japan Photo Library
Mt. Yoshino in Nara Prefecture is one of Japan's most renowned cherry blossom spots with its over 30,000 sakura trees of different varieties covering around nine kilometers up the mountain. Temples and shrines are also in the area, as well as a ropeway visitors can ride to take in the sakura-filled landscape.
This mountain is also designated a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its historical use as a pilgrimage road for practitioners of Shinto mountain worship. Visitors can enjoy being surrounded by the pink and white scenery and the cultural and spiritual significance of the area.
Address: Nara, Yoshino, Yoshino, Yoshinoyama 2430
Nearest Station: Kintetsu Yoshino Station
Access: 15-minute bus ride from Kintetsu Yoshino Station
9. Hiroshima: Peace Memorial Park
Picture courtesy of JNTO Japan Photo Library
Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture, is an area with great historical significance and plays a critical role in educating visitors about the importance of international peace. This large park is also stunning in the spring when the cherry blossom trees bloom on the grounds and by the river.
Each year, many people come to visit the park, enjoy the scenery, and have picnics under the trees. The sakura along the river create a picturesque and unique spring scene.
Peace Memorial Park
Address: Hiroshima, Naka, Nakajima 1
Nearest Station: JR Hiroshima Station
Access: From JR Hiroshima Station, take a streetcar bound for Miyajimaguchi or Eba. Get off at Genbaku Dome-mae (15 min. ride)
10. Hiroshima: Ueno Park
Picture from The 44 Best Cherry Blossom Spots All Around Japan - 2018 Guide
Ueno Park in Shobara city, Hiroshima, is a stunning cherry blossom viewing spot situated around the Ueno Pond. The sakura bloom in spring, framing the pond and creating a colorful and spectacular scenery.
The Shobara-Ueno Cherry Blossoms Festival is held annually in April, where the park is opened during the night, giving a spectacular view of illuminated cherry blossoms and the red bridge on the pond.
Address: Hiroshima, Shobara, Higashihonmachi, 1
Access: 10 minutes on foot from JR Bingo-Shobara Station
Website: https://www.hiroshima-kankou.com/spot/4221 (Japanese)
11. Hyogo: Himeji Castle
Enjoy the cherry blossoms all day long at the majestic Himeji Castle. The castle is famous for its pristine white color and is the first UNESCO Heritage Site to be registered in Japan. Located in western Hyogo Prefecture, sakura cover the 400-year-old castle grounds in the spring, transforming the area into a gorgeous white and pink dreamworld.
Around 1,000 Somei Yoshino and Shidare zakura are planted here. In the evenings, the sakura are lit up and visitors can enjoy exploring the castle grounds at night with glowing flowers all around.
12. Hyogo: Shukugawa
Picture courtesy of Nishinomiya City Hall, Parks and Greenery Department
Shukugawa is a river in the eastern part of Hyogo Prefecture, close to Osaka. Around 1,660 cherry trees blossom along the canal and park, creating a stunning scene. It is a favorite spot among locals and also attracts many visitors from outside the area.
Experience Cherry Blossom Season in Western Japan
All of the spots listed above have a rich history, and people have enjoyed the cherry blossoms over a long period of time. Visitors can also enjoy sightseeing in the areas above, so if you have the chance, go and view the cherry blossoms which have been adored for hundreds of years.