Translated by Shinji Takaramura
5 Famous Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots In Western Japan
The Kansai Region (Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka) is famous for its many World Heritage sites and unique cuisine. This article introduces the five popular cherry blossom viewing spots in the area that you shouldn't miss in 2018!
Written by MATCHA
Kyoto, a city popular even among Japanese tourists, and Osaka, where a large number of tourists from abroad gather, are both located in the Kansai Region, which is known for its many world heritage sites and unique cuisine.
There are many ohanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots in the area. In this article, we introduce five recommended place to admire the sakura in the Kansai Region, from the ancient city of Kyoto to the gourmet city of Osaka.
1. Maruyama Koen, Kyoto
The famous Gion Yozakura in Maruyama Koen. Photo courtesy of: JAPAN LIBRARY/ © Y.Shimizu/ © JNTO
This 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. Daigoji Temple, Kyoto
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 in 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 600 yen, junior/senior high 300 yen, elementary free
Website: Daigoji Temple
3. The Cherry Trees on the Okawa Riverside, Osaka
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
Website:Parks Information/ Osaka City (Japanese)
4. Nara Park, Nara
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)
5. Koriyama Castle, Nara
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 spot 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
All of the five 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.