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For Lovers of Sakura! Top 10 Areas in Kyoto for Cherry Blossom Viewing

In the past, we had an article about top 10 spots for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in Tokyo. Now, we have the Kyoto version. Needless to say, the ancient capital of Kyoto adorned with sakura creates a scene that appears beautiful to everyone. There are actually so many beautiful places with sakura in Kyoto that we really had difficulty deciding which place to exclude from the list. The 10 spots we introduce today are sakura viewing spots that outrank all these spots to represent Kyoto.


10. Togetsukyo Bridge, Arashiyama



If one says Kyoto, we immediately think of Arashiyama; and when one says Arashiyama, we immediately think of the Togetsukyo Bridge. The dynamically flowing river and the bridge that passes over it; the cherry blossoms swaying in the wind, you see lots of nature and open space. You can also take the Sagano Romantic Train that runs from Arashiyama; the view from this train is also recommended.


9. Kiyomizudera Temple



No further explanation needed for the world heritage site, Kiromizudera. The well-known feature of the temple being illuminated lights up the cherry blossoms. The scene of the entire Kiyomizudera being lit up in pink is truly fantastic.


8. Gion Shirakawa



The Gion Shirakawa Dori, an atmospheric stone paved street where a row of old houses stand. It is a famous sakura viewing spot that has been used in many commercials and television dramas. For this reason it’s a place most people have seen at least once. The recommended itinerary is to view the sakura and then continue down to one of the nice  restaurants on the same street for lunch.


7. Heian Jingu Shrine



The Heian Jingu shrine with the beautiful vermillion Shinto architecture; the Heian Jingu shrine was built in 1895 (the 28th year of the Meiji Period) to commemorate 1,100 years from the moving of the capital to Heian by the Kaimu Emperor. The cherry blossoms of the Heian Jingu Shrine also appear in many literary works such as The Makioka Sisters (Sasame-yuki) by Junichiro Tanizaki.


6. Kodaiji Temple



The Kodaiji Temple is famous as the temple of ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s wife Nene. The large cherry tree that is planted in one corner of the Hojo Front Garden is quite impressive. The Kodaiji Temple is also famous for the colors of the fall foliage. (See article indicated at the very bottom of this article).  


5. Philosopher’s Path



The philosopher’s path is a footpath of about 2 km long that leads to the Ginkakuji temple. What’s distinct about this area is that you don’t stop to look at the flowers as you would during a normal hanami, you gaze at it while taking a nice stroll. You may just be inspired by philosophical musings as the name of the path implies. In April, the area turns into a beautiful tunnel of sakura.


4. Ninnaji Temple



Ninnaji Temple has the “Omurozakura” which is known for its late blossoms. When the omurozakura reaches full bloom, we all feel that it’s the end of spring for Kyoto. What’s distinct about the omurozakura is that the branches extend horizontally. So, instead of gazing up at it, you can see the cherry blossoms at about 2 meters height. It’s not even fully blossomed yet, so you still have time to visit this year in 2016.


3. Hirano Jinja Shrine


The place with the most variety of sakura is here at the Hirano Jinja shrine. There are over 50 types of sakura and also some rare varieties as well. Since there are those that bloom earlier in the season as well as those that come later, the sakura viewing can be enjoyed for a longer period.


2. Maruyama Park



The Maruyama Park was the very first park to be built in Kyoto in 1886 (the oldest in Kyoto). The large weeping sakura tree within the park is lit up at night and becomes the best night-time sakura view in Kyoto.


1. Daigoji Temple



We recommend seeing the sakura with the pagoda in the background.


The Daigoji temple has long been famous as an area for sakura. It is said that long ago, Toyotomi Hideyoshi gathered over 1,000 of his subordinates and had a grand and luxurious hanami. It is said that it was the largest scale hanami of the time in Japan, and the legend continues to live as “daigo no hanami (Hanami of Daigo)”. Because the Daigoji is also a world heritage site, the sakura is well maintained and so it is a representative sakura that has it all- beauty, dynamism and history.


You still have plenty of time to view the sakura this year in 2016, but if you aren’t able to make it this year, you can always use this list to plan your hanami trip for next year.

Check this out as well! (There are some spots that overlap with this list, and is explained in more detail).
Three Best Temples for Fall Foliage in Kyoto + their Highlights
9 Spots in Kyoto to Enjoy the Amazing Snowscape

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