Visiting Kyoto during the annual cherry tree blossoms (sakura) bloom is AMAZING!! We believe this gorgeous display of nature should be declared one of the wonders of the world. We were very lucky to arrive during the first day of the full bloom.
|Cherry Blossoms at Kawaramachidori Street - Kyoto|
|Beautiful Cherry Tree Blossoms|
All over Kyoto clouds of spectacular cherry tree blossoms bloom drawing thousands of visitors. In the evening, the trees are lit giving a truly enchanting experience.
Japan’s cherry tree blossom viewing celebration is called hanami when the harsh winter is almost over and spring is just around the corner. The timing changes every year and is watched closely because the blossoms last only a week or two – sometimes just days (see below for best time).
Today, a hanami involves having outdoor parties beneath the cherry trees during daytime or at night. It is fun to see the hard working Japanese at play. It is wonderful when the delicate petals fall making a pink blanket everywhere.
|Locals Dress Up|
Some of the top places to enjoy the cherry tree blossom blooms...
Philosopher’s Path (connecting Ginkaku-ji (Silver Temple) and the Nanzen-ji neighborhood, free)
The Philosopher’s Path is one of our favorite places to visit in Kyoto. It is especially wonderful during the cherry tree blossom bloom. The path follows a beautiful canal lined on both sides by cherry trees, which are reflected in the canal water.
|Quaint Bridges on Philosopher's Walk - Kyoto|
Quaint bridges, shops, and restaurants make for great stops along the way of the Philosopher's Path. The cherry tree blossom petals floating on the water add to what is already a beautiful walk with a number of historic monuments. We stopped along the way for some tea and Japanese food.
Maruyama Park (next to the Yasaka Shrine, free)
With about 850 cherry trees, the Maruyama Park is the oldest park in Kyoto and its most popular public park for cherry tree blossom viewing parties.
Heian Shrine (admission charge for garden visit)
There are about 300 weeping cherry trees in the beautiful Chinese-style garden of the famous Heian Shrine located behind the shrine's main buildings. It is one of the best places in Kyoto to see weeping cherry trees blossoms.
Good to know: The full bloom at the Heian Shrine is a few days after the rest in the city making it a good place if you miss the main cherry tree blossom bloom by a few days.
Nijo Castle (admission charge)
Both daytime and nighttime with illuminations, the Kodai-ji Temple is a great place to visit.
Okazaki Canal (outside Heian Shrine, free)
The Okazaki Canal is lined by many cherry trees that hang over its banks for a wonderful viewing experience. Boat tours are conducted during the hanami season about every 15-30 minutes for 1000 yen. The wait can be long.
Hirano Shrine (between Kinkakuji and Kitano Hakubaicho, free)
The Hirono Shrine, known for the many varieties of its about 500 cherry trees on its grounds, is the site of one of Kyoto's most famous hanami places. In the evenings, the cherry tree blossoms are lit up and tables are set up with food vendors.
The largest concentration of cherry trees is located around the pond near the exit of the temple grounds.
Timing can be a bit tricky. In Kyoto over the past 10 years, the date for the full bloom has ranged from March 30th to April 9th so a good bet is the first week of April.
For much more about wonderful Kyoto, please see our other 4 blog posts:
Japan Kyoto - Famous Temples Shrines Palaces Castles
Japan Kyoto - Gardens
Japan Kyoto - Japanese Food
Japan Kyoto - Living and Impressions
Please also see our 6 other blog posts for wonderful Japan:
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