Cherry Blossom viewing spots in Kyoto
Kyoto will never cease to surprise anyone, be it with the jaw-dropping cherry blossom (Sakura) or with the vibrant autumn foliage. Cherry blossom turns Kyoto into a wonderland painted in pink. Keep reading and I will take you through some of the best panoramic Cherry blossom viewing spots in Kyoto.
While you are at Kyoto treat yourself with a Hanami party which is one of the main attractions of Sakura. It is a traditional picnic where you adore the beautiful blossom while enjoying your snacks under the shade of a fully bloomed sakura tree. So pack a picnic box when you go out for a romantic stroll with your better half and feel the sakura in its full grace and glory.
Start your day as early as possible with the very famous Philosophers path AKA Tetsugaku no Michi. It’s a 2 km stretch road alongside a canal, where both sides of the canal are lined up with hundreds of sakura tress. Rent out a pair of kimonos from the nearby shops and walk around the flowery roads like a cute Japanese couple. And don’t forget to get yourself clicked, wrapped in those stunning kimonos against the picturesque background of sakura trees. This could be your holiday card next year.
The philosophers walk will take you to the Ginkakuji temple, don’t forget to make a stop here even if it’s a bit crowded. The temple premises are quite big so you won’t feel jammed once you are in. This temple has a stunning garden adorned with sakura trees and some other remarkable feats like a sand garden. You can spend quite some time relaxing in the Ginkakuji temple before we set out to our next destination.
Next stop would be at Nanzen-ji temple, which is close to Ginkakuji. My suggestion is never bother hiring a taxi while you are in Kyoto. Each and every corner of Kyoto is worth a click during sakura.
Nanzen-ji temple is a huge Zen Buddhist temple with a lot of small sub temples, where you can spend a few hours. There is a huge Sanmon gate which you can climb up for an amazing view of the temple and its surroundings that extends across the city. You can unpack your picnic box here if you are lucky enough to find an unoccupied cherry tree.
My personal favorite spot for enjoying the cherry blossom is the Keage incline near Nanzen-ji temple. This is not an extremely popular spot like the Philosophers path, but it has the best views
As the name suggest Keage Incline is an inclined old railroad track, which extends about half a kilometer. Each Side of the track is adorned by magnificent rows of cherry trees. Keage incline is very popular among the locals but tourists often miss out this place. It has an amazing view no other region in Kyoto can offer, the treetops along the slope are almost at the ground level making it look like a flower tunnel. You would be walking among the flowered canopies along the petal covered tracks. I’m pretty sure, you will walk around with your mouth agape at the sight of this massive flower avalanche. It is truly mesmerizing and the dreamiest walk Kyoto offers. Since it isn’t overcrowded, you can click as many pictures as you want without worrying about that stranger popping out in the background when you try for a romantic pose with your partner.
After Keage head out for the most famous Maruyama park which is about 2 kilometers from the Keage incline. Did I mention in the beginning that you will need a good pair of walking shoes while you are in Kyoto? If not, you are in for long walks and get those slip-ons off the rack which you thought weren’t cute enough for a holiday.
Maruyama park is in the historic Gion district known for the Geisha culture. It is one of the most popular cherry blossom viewing spot in Kyoto. The main highlight here is the iconic weeping cherry tree which is regarded as the symbol of sakura in Kyoto. Visitors horde in flock just to get a sight of this massive cherry tree with its drooping branches decked with cascades of flowers in full bloom. There are a number of eateries in the park, where you can buy snacks and drinks and have them under one of the trees. The whole park will be lit at night so get a glimpse of the lit-up park before you leave. If you have time pay a visit to Yasaka shrine and Chion-in in temple which are very close to the park.
Next stop would be at Kiyomizudera temple which is a short walk from Maruyama park. Walking along the Gion district itself is as exciting as watching the cherry blossom. Spring or not, Kiyomizudera is something you don’t want to miss. The main attraction at Kiyomizudera during Sakura is the mystical illumination at night. Make sure to get here before 9pm as the entry would be closed afterwards. Take your time and enjoy the stunning architecture of the temple and the beautifully lit up view of the cherry trees. You can get a great view from the wooden stage at the main hall, of the numerous cherry trees exploded in shades of pink. After a stroll in the park head towards Kiyamachi street.
Kiyamachi is a lively and vibrant street alongside the Takasegawa river canal, known for many popular restaurants and bars, this is the best place to grab a romantic dinner while watching the fully bloomed cherry trees lined along the stream. Restaurants here could be a bit crowded during the Sakura peak times, so make a reservation just to be sure.
If you fancy a fine dining, get a reservation at Sakuragawa and experience a ten-course delicious Japanese Kaiseki (multicourse) dinner. Get a counter seat and watch the chefs performing the culinary art right in front of you. This is a Michelin starred restaurant so the dinner can cost you up to 20000yen per person but it is worth every yen you spend.
If that is not what you are looking for, go for a Yakiniku (BBQ) restaurant and grill some animals to your taste.
After finishing the dinner take a walk along the creek and enjoy illuminated archaic bridges across the canals and the Cherry trees. Remember Kiyamachi street is the night life street of Kyoto so if you still have the zest and stamina I suggest to go for a bar hopping. You can find plenty of Japanese styled izakayas as well as English pubs down the street. A few minutes from Kiyamachi lies, Pontocho which is more of an upscale downtown. Pontocho is a pedestrian only alley which houses many restaurants and bars. Learn yourself a little bit of Japanese and break the language and cultural barriers by making friends with the locals in the bar. Wind up the day by treating yourself with some sake (Japanese alcohol) or a couple of beers and head to your hotel for a good night’s sleep.
The perfect way to end a perfect day!!