Kyoto’s Best Sakura Spots

It’s that time again. Spring is here and the air is filled with the scent of ume blossom, the pretty pink petals reminding us that sakura season is just around the corner. This year (2019), because winter was warmer than average, the cherry blossoms are expected to open earlier than average, with predictions for first blooms to arrive in Kyoto around March 24.

Here’s where you can catch a glimpse of these beauties in Kyoto, expected to peak in the first week of April.

Philosopher’s Path

Between Ginkakuji and Nanzenji Temples, admission free

The Philosopher’s Path is a lovely canalside path that links Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) with Nanzenji. It’s lined by hundreds of cherry trees and is a great place to stroll under the pastel petals.

Maruyama Park

Next to Yasaka Shrine, admission free

Illumination: during blooming season until midnight

Maruyama Park, next to Yasaka Shrine, is the most popular public park for cherry blossom parties, known as hanami. The star of the show is a large weeping cherry tree that is lit up in the evenings. Food stands and pop-up restaurants with tables under the trees are full of people laughing, drinking and getting into the spring spirit.

Shirakawa Dori

In Gion District, admission free

Beautiful canal street lined with preserved machiya, many of which have been converted into restaurants and cafés offering the perfect spot for some sakura appreciation.

Keage Incline

Adjacent to Okazaki Canal near Nanzenji Temple, admission free

Part of a canal system that provides Kyoto with water from Lake Biwa on the other side of the mountains. The Keage Incline was used until the 1950s to transport boats between Okazaki Canal and other areas. Today, the gentle slope is lined by around one hundred cherry trees.

Okazaki Canal

Outside Heian Shrine, admission free

Cruises 2019: March 23 to May 6 – 9:30 to 16:30 (March 28 to April 7 – 8:00 to 20:30 with nighttime illumination)

Set just outside of the Heian Shrine, Okazaki Canal connects Lake Biwa Canal with Kyoto’s famous Kamo River. It’s lined by beautiful cherry trees, and quaint riverboat tours are the perfect way to take in the view during the hanami season. Boats run every 15-30 minutes for 1200 yen per person.

Heian Shrine

Behind the main building, 600 yen, 8:30 to 17:30

Large numbers of late-bloom weeping cherry trees decorate the garden of the Heian Shrine. The trees reach full bloom a short time after the city’s other cherry trees, making it the perfect place for visitors who miss the main season by a few days.

Other spots in the city include:

Nijo Castle, which has nighttime illuminations from March 21 to April 14 – 18:00 to 21:30

Kyoto Botanical Gardens, which has nighttime illuminations from March 25 to April 8, until 21:00

Kiyomizu-Dera, which has nighttime illuminations from March 29 to April 7 – 18:00 to 21:00

I also just love to wander the streets of the city and the banks of the Kamo River to see what treasures I stumble upon, a tactic I strongly advise all my guests to adopt.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Tim says:

    Arigatou.. It ALL looks so beautiful. My family and I usually come in the summer.. Because of Public School schedule in NYC.. so we AWLAYS miss Sakura. Also my wife has bad allergies. I would love to make it there sometime during Sakura time.. It looks other worldly.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s