15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots In Kyoto!
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15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots In Kyoto!

Kyoto 2017.02.18

Witness the gorgeous views of Kyoto with cherry blossoms in bloom at fifteen different spots! From popular temples to parks, enjoy springtime in Kyoto at scenic locations.

Translated by Jasmine Nishino

A freelance nomad (lost) translator and nerd at heart.

Written by MATCHA

Hanami or cherry blossom viewing is an experience that is not to be missed when visiting the ancient city of Kyoto. Cherry blossoms at historical areas such as Gion, Togetsukyo bridge in the Arashiyama area, or Kodaiji Temple with its beautiful Japanese garden, all have an almost artistic and dream-like quality to them while enabling viewers to indulge in the history of the city. In addition, during the end of March until the mid-April, there are spots where cherry blossoms are beautifully illuminated at night. This time, we would like to introduce the best spots to enjoy cherry blossoms when visiting Kyoto during the spring.

Cherry Blossom Season in Kyoto

15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto!

Kyoto's cherry blossom season varies based on the weather and location, but it mainly occurs from beginning to mid-April. In the past few years, the flowers have started to bloom at the end of March going into full bloom during the first half of April. However, depending on the flower species, some begin to bloom in the beginning of March while some can be seen in bloom only around mid-April. The season in which to view the cherry blossoms is short and they may whither more quickly due to rain. It is a good idea to check on the blooming status of the locations you wish to visit prior to going. If you wish to learn more about different types of cherry blossoms, please read the following article, Spot The Differences: The Five Main Varieties Of Sakura.

The Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto

Kyoto has many locations where you can see cherry blossoms for free! Perhaps you may want to select your location according to where you would like to view the cherry blossoms. For instance, ”see cherry blossoms while taking a walk along the river”, ”see cherry blossoms with beautiful temples in the background”, or ”see cherry blossoms at world heritage sites”! There are also spots where you can go viewing at night, so you will be able to enjoy a different atmosphere of the blossoms than during the day.

1. Maruyama Park

15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto!

Maruyama Park is known as one of the best relaxation spots in Kyoto among the locals. There are approximately 680 cherry blossom trees within the park and is filled with people who enjoy the blossoms during the day and night. In the previous years, the shidare-zakura (weeping cherry blossoms) have bloomed at the end of March, followed by the somei yoshino, yama-zakura, and the yae-shidare-zakura during the mid-April. The photo above shows a weeping cherry blossom tree, which is the symbol of Maruyama Park and is over 80 years old. Also called the Night Cherry Blossoms of Gion, after sundown, you will be able to enjoy the beauty of these blossoms lit up in the dark. For more information on how to get to Maruyama park, please read Gion's Best Sakura Spots (Kyoto) as well.

Viewing time: End of March - Early April
Number of cherry trees: Around 680
Cherry Blossom Types: shidare-zakura, somei-yoshino, yama-zakura, yae-shidare-zakura
Hours: 24 hours, open all year
Night light up event: Available (mid-March - mid-April. After sundown to 1 AM)
Entry fee: Free
Address: Kyoto, Kyoto city, Higashiyama ward, Maruyama-cho
Website: Maruyama Park (Japanese)

2. Heian Jingu Shrine

Built in 1895, the Heian Jingu shrine currently has over 300 cherry blossom trees of 20 different types. Over half of them are the beni-shidare-zakura (red weeping cherry blossoms). The color contrast between the crimson of the blossoms and the green shrine creates a dreamy scenery. In early spring, you can enjoy viewing the flowers while drinking green tea at the Kano Chakai or listen to a concert among the cherry blossom lit up at night at the Beni Shidare Concert. Around Heian Jingu shrine, there are other cherry blossom viewing locations such as the Philosopher's Path and Konkaikomyo-ji Temple that are also great to stop by.

Viewing time: End of March - Mid-April
Number of cherry trees: Around 300
Cherry Blossom Types: yae-beni-shidare-zakura, beni-shidare-zakura, somei yoshino, higan-zakura, yama-zakura, sato-zakura, kanhi-zakura
Hours: 8:30-18:00, open all year
Night light up event: During a few days in early April after closing hours and during the beni-shidare concert only (18:15-21:00)
Entry fee: Adult: 600 yen, Child: 300 yen (An additional fee is needed for the beni-shidare concert)
Address: Kyoto, Sakyo, Okazaki Nishitennocho 97
Website: Heian Jingu (Japanese)

3. Arashiyama

15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto!

A scenic spot that represents the vast nature of Kyoto is Arashiyama. It has been known to be a wonderful spot to view cherry blossoms for many years and during the spring, the entire mountain turns into a gorgeous shade of pink. Around the Togetsukyo Bridge crossing the Kamogawa river, you can see 1,500 cherry blossom trees that are just as beautiful at night when illuminated. Another way to enjoy the blossoms at Arashiyama is on a train or a boat ride down the river.

Viewing time: End of March - Mid-April
Number of cherry trees: More than 1,500
Cherry Blossom Types: yae-zakura, somei yoshino, yae-zakura, shidare-zakura
Hours: 24 hours, open all year
Night light up event: Not available.
Entry fee: Free
Address: Kyoto, Ukyo, Arashiyama district
Website: Arashiyama (Japanese)

4. Toji Temple

15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto!

Toji Temple, also known as Kyoogokokuji temple, is a famed World Heritage site. At Toji Temple, you can enjoy a picture-perfect view of the five-story pagoda with the cherry blossoms. The blossoms lit up after sundown are also a picturesque sight. Toji Temple is best known for the 130-year-old cherry blossom tree, the Fuji-zakura. There is also the Kawazu-zakura that blooms early, so you can enjoy the cherry blossoms from mid-March.

Viewing time: Mid-March - Early-April
Number of Cherry Blossom trees: Around 200
Cherry Blossom Types: kawazu-zakura, somei yoshino, yae-beni-shidare-zakura, shidare-zakura
Hours: 8:00-17:00
Night light up event: Available
Entry fee: Free
Address: Kyoto, Ukyo, Arashiyama district
Website:Toji Temple (Japanese)

5. Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle is another World Heritage site that was constructed under the orders of Ieyasu Tokugawa (*1) and used to be his home in Kyoto. It is a popular spot for many history fans. Within the castle grounds, you will find the yae-beni-shidare-zakura, somei yoshino, yama-zakura, ooshima-zakura, kanhi-zakura, sato-zakura, and over 50 kinds of cherry blossoms blooming at different times. Therefore, you will be able to enjoy the flowers from mid-March until the end of April.

Viewing time: Mid-March - End of April
Number of cherry trees: Around 400
Cherry Blossom Types: yae-beni-shidare-zakura, somei yoshino, yama-zakura, ooshima-zakura, kanhi-zakura, sato-zakura, and over 50 kinds.
Hours: 8:45-17:00, 18:00-21:30 during light-up season. Open all year round
Night light up event: Available from end of March to mid-April from 18:00-21:30
Entry fee: Adult: 600 yen, Middle and High School students 350 yen, Elementary school students: 200 yen. During light-up times, Adult: 400 yen, Elementary/Middle/High school students: 200 yen.
Address: Kyoto, Nakagyo, Nijo-dori, Horikawa Nishi hairu, Nijo-jo cho 541
Website: Nijo Castle (Japanese)

*1 Ieyasu Tokugawa: A great shogun of Japan. The founder of the Edo period that lasted over 200 years.

6. Kiyomizudera Temple

15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto!

Another World Heritage site is Kiyomizudera Temple, a popular location in Kyoto that many tourists visit every day. Within the temple grounds, there are 1,500 cherry blossom trees. The view of the cherry blossoms from the Kiyomizu Stage is a must-see! After sundown, the three-storey pagoda is lit up and the sight of the blossoms in the night is highly recommended. The path from Kiyomizudera Temple to Maruyama Park and Gion Shirakawa is a great walking course to see cherry blossoms during the day and night.

Please note that starting from 2017, Kiyomizudera-temple is undergoing a major construction project. The temple repairs are set to be complete in 2020. Please be aware that the scenery of cherry blossoms with Kiyomizudera Temple and the city-scape of Kyoto may not be seen during construction.

Viewing time: Late March - Early April
Number of Cherry Blossom trees: Around 1,500
Cherry Blossom Types: Somei yoshino, yama-zakura
Hours: 6:00-18:00. Open all year round
Night light up event: Available (Late March to early April from 18:00-21:00)
Entry fee: Adult: 400 yen, Child 200 yen
Address: Kyoto, Higashiyama, Kiyomizu 1-chome
Website: Kiyomizudera

7. Kamo Shrine

Kamowakei-kazuchi shrine, otherwise known as Kamo shrine is known to be Kyoto's oldest shrine. It is also a World Heritage site that is known for its beautiful weeping cherry blossom trees called Saio-zakura and Gosho-zakura. ”Saio” is the title of a princess serving the guardian deity of the shrine. ”Gosho” represents the emperor. Both cherry trees are known to have magnificent branches emphasizing the beauty of the blossoms.

Viewing time: Early April - Mid-April
Number of cherry trees: Around 300
Cherry Blossom Types: Beni-shidare-zakura, shiro-shidare-zakura, somei yoshino, yama-zakura, and more.
Hours: Open 24 hours, all year round. Special viewing from 10:00-16:00
Night light up event: Not available
Entry fee: free; 500 yen for special viewings.
Address: Kyoto city, Kita ward, Kamigamo Motoyama 339
Website: Kamo Shrine

8. Hirano Shrine

Hirano Shrine has been known for the Hirano Yozakura (cherry blossoms at night) since the Edo period. In the evening, a special light-up event is held. At Hirano shrine, you will be able to see nearly 50-60 different types of species, including rare kinds. The momo-zakura blooms in early March, followed by the sakigake-zakura, nezame-zakura, hirano-imose-zakura, somei yoshino, and more. Various species of cherry blossoms bloom until early May, so you will be able to enjoy viewing the flowers anytime during March and April.

Viewing time: Early March - End of April
Number of cherry trees: Around 400
Cherry Blossom Types: Momo-zakura, sakigake-zakura, nezame-zakura, hirano-imose-zakura, somei yoshino, and over 60 kinds.
Hours: 6:00-17:00 (during cherry blossom season, open until 21:00). Open all year round
Night light up event: Available from the end of March until mid-April from sundown to 21:00.
Entry fee: free
Address: Kyoto, Kita, Hirano-gu Honmachi 1
Website: Hirano Shrine

9. Philosopher's Path

15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto!

The Philosopher's Path has been selected as one of the Top 100 Roads of Japan. Many writers have walked this path and given this road its current name. During the spring, nearly 500 cherry blossom trees along the canal are in full bloom and you will be able to enjoy a tunnel of blossom during peak blossoming season.

Viewing time: Early April - Mid-April
Number of cherry trees: Around 500
Cherry Blossom Types: Somei yoshino
Hours: 24 hours, all year round
Night light up event: Not available
Entry fee: free
Address: Kyoto, Sakyo ward, Wakaojibashi to Jodojibashi.
Website: -

10. Kyoto City Botanical Garden

With over 120,000 plants and flowers, this botanical garden has 130 different types of cherry blossoms that go into full bloom from mid-March until the end of April. For plant enthusiasts, this botanical garden also has Japan's largest greenhouse. You can casually enjoy the view of cherry blossoms in the garden located on the northern side of the greenhouse.

Viewing time: Mid-March - Late April
Number of cherry trees: Around 450
Cherry Blossom Types: Kanhi-zakura, somei yoshino, yae-beni-shidare, kiku-zakura and over 130 types.
Hours: 9:00-17:00
Night light up event: Available from late March to early April from sundown to 21:00
Entry fee: Adult: 200 yen, High school students 150 yen
Address: Kyoto, Sakyo ward, Shimogamo Hangicho
Website: Kyoto City Botanical Garden (Japanese)

11. Takase River

15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto!

Along the Takase river that flows through Kiyamachi street there is a wonderful cherry blossom viewing spot. You can see 200 cherry blossom trees extending for 1 km among the quaint townscape of Kyoto. It also gets illuminated at night, so exploring through the night is also recommended.

Viewing time: Late March-Early April
Number of cherry trees: Around 200
Cherry Blossom Types: Somei yoshino
Hours: 24 hours, all year round.
Night light up event: Available from late March to early April from 18:00-23:00
Entry fee: free
Address: Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward (Along Kiyamachi street)
Website: -

12. Kodaiji Temple

For a long time, the Hojo Garden's shidare-zakura (weeping cherry blossom) has been widely known for its beauty. During the peak blooming season, there are light-up events of the flowers along with projection mapping shows at important cultural properties such as Kaisando temple and the seven Buddhist halls.

Viewing time: Late March - Mid-April
Number of cherry trees: Around 50
Cherry Blossom Types: Koudaiji-zakura, shidare-zakura, yama-zakura
Hours: 9:00-17:00 (During special night presentations from mid-March-early May, it is open until 22:00). Open all year round
Night light up event: Available. During special nigh presentations, from sundown to 22:00
Entry fee: Adult: 600 yen, Children 250 yen.
Address: Kyoto, Higashiyama, Kodaiji Shimokawaracho 526
Website: Kodaiji Temple

13. Kyoto Gyoen

Kyoto Gyoen is known as the central park of Kyoto with a massive area extending 4 km filled with cherry blossoms in the spring. You can spot a variety of blossoms such as the splendid shidare-zakura at the remains of the Konoe Residence or the sato-zakura around the stream of Demizu.

Viewing time: Late March-Late-April
Number of Cherry Blossom trees: Around 1,000
Cherry Blossom Types: Shidare-zakura, ito-zakura, sato-zakura, gyoiko
Hours: 24 hours. Open all year round
Night light up event: Not available
Entry fee: Adult: free
Address: Kyoto, Kamigyo ward, Kyoto Gyoen
Website: Kyoto Gyoen (Japanese)

14. Yamashina Canal

Yamashina Canal is a canal that is a part of Lake Biwa flowing into Kyoto. Along the canal, you can enjoy a trail of yama-zakura blossoms while taking a stroll. The Bishamondo Temple located near the canal also houses the gorgeous Bishamon-shidare tree that is great to visit as well.

Viewing time: Late March - Early April
Number of Cherry Blossom trees: Around 650
Cherry Blossom Types: Yama-zakura and more
Hours: 24 hours. Open all year round
Night light up event: Not available
Entry fee: free
Address: Kyoto, Yamashina, Shinomiyashinkaibata
Website: -

15. Around Kamogawa River

15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto!

A path of somei yoshino and shidare-zakura cherry blossom trees extend from Kamogawa Ohashi bridge to the Shijo Ohashi area. During the season when the blossoms are in full bloom, you can wander through a tunnel of pink blossoms. Along the riverside, many temporary food stalls are open so you can pick up some tasty treats while enjoying the view of the cherry blossoms.

Viewing time: Early April
Number of Cherry Blossom trees: Around 1000
Cherry Blossom Types: Beni-shidare-zakura, somei yoshino, and more
Hours: 24 hours. Open all year round
Night light up event: Not available
Entry fee: free
Address: -
Website: Kamogawa (Japanese)

Weather in Kyoto During Cherry Blossom Viewing Season

15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto!

The prime time to view the cherry blossoms is during late March to mid-April when the temperature is around 10-12 degrees Celsius. The temperature during the day and night are quite different. During the day, a jacket and a light coat are enough, but at night, it will drop to as low as 5 degrees Celsius. If you plan on going to see the flower at night, be prepared with a sweater or a shawl to protect yourself from the cold. You may even want to purchase some hand warmers at convenience stores or supermarkets too.

Manners During Cherry Blossom Viewing

Many public parks allow you to save a spot to enjoy watching the cherry blossoms, but please check in advance to see if some areas or parks are restricted or forbidden to enter. For more information, please read Finding The Perfect Spot: Saving A Hanami Site in advance.

Also, please be considerate and take your garbage back with you to dispose of, or take care of your garbage in selected areas. Please read and follow the rules at Clean Up The Right Way: Dealing With Trash After A Hanami and enjoy watching the cherry blossoms.

Hotels During Cherry Blossom Season in Kyoto

Many people from all over the world visit Kyoto during the spring to see the cherry blossoms. Therefore, many hotels are full during the prime season at the end of March to April. If you plan to visit Kyoto during this time, it is a very good idea to book early. Prices and availability tend to be better in neighboring cities such as Osaka, Kobe, and Nara as well as commuting from one of those cities to Kyoto might be better.

** This information is from December 2016. Information provided is subject to change; please check in advance before making any travel plans.

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