Home Japan Travel GuideCherry Blossom in Kyoto

Cherry Blossom in Kyoto

Going out to see the bloom of the cherry trees is an important event that engages the whole country. This is how Japanese people keep alive the long tradition of hanami, admiring the flowers of the cherry trees. People love heading to the parks and just sit under a tree to have a picnic, or to stroll around and admire the pink sea around them.

Kyoto is a popular place where to enjoy this amazing view. Take a walk inside one of its many parks, like the one in the Arashiyama district, or along the Kamogava River; or visit the amazing botanical garden… Wherever you go, you will be amazed by the natural beauty surrounding you.

Keep reading our short article and learn more about hanami in Kyoto!

Highlights

  • Going to see cherry blossom is becoming more and more popular among tourists.
  • The tradition of hanami, appreciating the cherry blossoms, is more than 1,000 years old.
  • Having a picnic under the trees is the best way to enjoy the colorful petals.
  • One of the best parks in Kyoto to do hanami is Muruyama-koen.
  • As this is probably the most crowded period of the whole year, we strongly recommend to carefully plan your trip well in advance.

Cherry blossom in Kyoto

In Japanese culture, admiring the cherry blossoms is a way to appreciate the transient nature of life, and the former capital is one of the most enjoyable places where to do so. Besides its many temples and strong traditions, Kyoto offers a wonderful vista of the cherry blossoms.

In Japanese culture, enjoying the cherry blossoms is called hanami (literally “flower viewing”). Nowadays, people will do hanami by having a picnic or a party under the trees, so as to fully appreciate their beauty. Strolling around the parks or along the canals is a perfect way to do hanami, and it is also a good opportunity to taste amazing dishes like okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and the like.

In Kyoto, sakura (the cherry trees) usually bloom during the last week of March and during the first two weeks of April. If you are lucky, you will see many trees blooming at the same time and staying that way for about a week.

However, you have to remember that this is different every year, so it will be really hard to catch the best time to admire the cherry trees if you are in town just for a day or two. Moreover, it is not certain that the trees will bloom all at the same time.

Hanami etiquette

The idea behind hanami is extremely simple: just enjoy and respect the beauty of the pink petals. To do so, people will head to the major parks of the city and reserve their spot with a blanket. They will eat and drink and have fun for the whole day, and many like to stay even during the evening and maybe listen to a concert.

As everything else, also hanami has its etiquette to follow. Respect, a pivotal concept in Japanese culture, is extremely important also in this case. When you choose your place to have a picnic, be sure it is an authorized one. Place your blanket away from the roots and be considerate about how many you are: do not occupy unnecessary space.

Treat the treat as you would do with a work of art in a museum: Avoid touching it and never ever pick a branch or a flower; they are meant for everyone to enjoy. Keep everything clean, leave no trace. Avoid being too loud, and respect other people’s space.

Best Kyoto cherry blossom sites

There are tons of places in Kyoto where to do hanami, and here we have gathered just a few. Probably the most popular place is Muruyama-koen Park, which gets really crowded and is blessed by a unique atmosphere.

Some other popular places are the district of Arashiyama, the amazing Philosopher’s Path and the unique botanical garden, with the largest greenhouse in Japan.

Philosopher’s Path

Tetsugaku-no-Michi is a long path entirely lined with cherry trees on both sides, creating an unforgettable, inspiring sight when in bloom. During the day, the place is pretty crowded, and we suggest you take a walk during the evening, when the crowds are gone and the trees are illuminated.

Arashiyama

The district of Arashiyama sees many notable attractions, such as the Tenryji Temple and the bamboo groves. It has been an important hanami spot for ages, mostly because of the dozens of cherry trees that can be found around Togestukyo Bridge, located in the wonderful scenery at the foot of the Arashiyama mountains.

The pond near Daikakuji Temple is also surrounded by trees and is extremely enjoyable.

Muruyama-koen Park

The most popular park in Kyoto for admiring the cherry blossoms, Muruyama-koen Park, is located next to the Yasaka Shrines. What is special, are the large cherry trees that are illuminated at night. Under the trees, you will find dozens of temporary restaurants.

The park offers a lively atmosphere, and many people choose it to have their hanami party.

Kamogawa river

A long path of cherry trees stretches from Kamogawa Ohashi bridge to the Shijo Ohashi area and, when these trees are in bloom, you can literally stroll under a tunnel of pink petals. Along the riverside you will find tons of food stalls where to pick street food.

Heian Shrine

This shrine was built in 1895 and it is graced by more than 300 cherry blossom trees. Most of them are red weeping cherry blossoms (beni-shidare-zakura). The green color of the shrine creates a beautiful contrast with the fiery red of the petals.

You can enjoy sakura while drinking tea at the Kano Chakai, or listening to a concert during the evening hours. Other cherry blossom viewing points, like the Philosopher’s Path, are really close by.

Toji Temple

Toji Temple is a famous World Heritage site, and you will be able to enjoy an amazing view of the five-story pagoda, framed by dozens of cherry trees that will be lit up after sunset.

There is a cherry blossom tree that is 130 years old, the Fujizakura, and there is also a Kawazu-zakura that blooms around the middle of March.

Kyoto botanical garden

The botanical garden of the city seems like an obvious choice for those wishing to admire the cherry trees in bloom. You will find more than 120,000 plants and flowers, and more than 130 different types of cherry trees.

If you love plants, you will be happy to know that Kyoto botanical garden has the largest greenhouse of the whole country. Visit the whole garden and head to the north side to admire the cherry trees.

What you should know for visiting Kyoto during cherry blossom season

As many other Japanese cities during this period of the year, Kyoto sees a swarm of tourists coming to do hanami. We strongly recommend you book your accommodation well in advance, at least a couple of months before. If you make a last-minute decision, your choice will be very limited, and prices will be ridiculously high.

The cherry blossoms are important to everyone living in Japan, so expect tons of locals moving around the country. Book train tickets in advance and remember that most places will be crowded. If you wish to do hanami in a famous location, be sure to head there early in the morning so as to reserve your spot.

See cherry blossom with Asia Highlights

We bet that you cannot wait to sit under a pink cherry tree and enjoy this unique sight… it is so relaxing, and totally worth the trip. Asia Highlights can help you to fulfill your dreams. We will take care of everything, tailoring your trip according to your desires and needs – you will only have to choose a spot for your picnic.

Check out the following links and learn more about our tours now:

9-Day Japan Highlights Tour: A Stimulating Fusion of East and West

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11-Day Classic Japan Tour: Explore a Cluster of Scenic Cities and Quaint Towns in a Remote Mountain Region