Here in Kyoto, the sun is shining, the tourists are converging and buds are blooming, which can only mean one thing, it’s Kyoto Sakura Season! For anyone lucky enough to be visiting during this time, we've put together a list of our 5 favorite places where you can enjoy ephemeral flowers along with iconic Kyoto sights.
When Does Sakura Bloom in Kyoto?
So when is it all happening? This year the cherry blossoms in Kyoto are expected to bloom 4 days earlier than usual, around March 22, with full blooming predicted for one week later. Note that different sakura varietals have different blooming periods, so some cherry blossoms will be blooming up to mid-April! As Kyoto is expecting large numbers of tourists in 2023, it’s a good idea to try to beat the crowds and stop by first thing in the morning. Alright, let's not waste anymore time, let's dive into the list!
Photo courtesy of Toji Temple website
First off we have Toji Temple, home to a 5-storied pagoda, Japan's tallest wooden structure–talk about iconic! Along with the pagoda, it's famous for its 200+ sakura trees, the most gorgeous of which is a 13-meter tall "fuji-zakura" weeping sakura. The views are stunning in the daytime, but if you want to experience something a bit more mysterious, be sure to visit during the evening, when the temple grounds are lit up, illuminating the fluffy blossoms.
Opening Hours: 8:30am-4:30pm Evening 6:30-9:30pm
Admission: 500-800 JPY
Location: 1 Kujocho, Minami Ward, Kyoto, 601-8473
Photo courtesy of Kiyomizu Dera website
Next we have Kiyomizu Temple, World Heritage Site and home to over 1500 sakura trees! Like Toji Temple, the temple is lit up at night late March to April, allowing you to enjoy a breathtaking, unique view of 1000+ sakura trees and the city lights from the temple veranda.
Opening Hours: 6am-9pm
Admission: 400 JPY
Location: 1 Chome-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862
Tetsugaku no Michi
The 2km walk from the Nyakuoji Bridge near Eikando Temple to Ginkaku-ji Temple is called Tetsugaku no Michi, or Philosopher’s Path. It’s named after Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan's leading philosophers, who used to walk along the path in contemplation. The path is lined with sakura trees, creating a gorgeous tunnel of pink. Unlike the other spots mentioned on this list, it’s not a temple or shrine ground, which means you won’t have to pay any admission and it’s an immersive sakura experience, perfect when you are “temple-d out!” Just be sure to go in the morning or early evening to beat the crowds!
Open 24 Hours
Location: Tetsugaku No Michi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8426
Photo courtesy of Heian Shrine website
With its vermillion paint and formidable size, the Heian Shrine is a sight to behold! Even more so in the spring with the many weeping sakura trees, so beautiful they have been frequently praised in Japanese literature. Like many before you, you’ll love the “beni sakura” trees in the south garden that turn into a pepto-bismol pink colored cloud! Fun fact, this shrine was built in 1895 to commemorate the city’s 1100th birthday.
Opening Hours: Shrine: 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Gardens: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Admission: 600 JPY
Location: 97 Okazaki Nishi Tenno-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto
Photo courtesy of Ninnaji website
Lastly, we have Ninnaji, a temple in Northwestern Kyoto, that was founded in 888 AD and whose "Omuro Sakura" cherry trees have been famous in Japan since the Edo period! Omuro Sakura trees are unique because they are short, allowing you to enjoy them at eye-level. They are also cherished for blooming later than other sakura varieties, which makes them a treat to enjoy even after other cherry blossoms in the city have scattered their blossoms! In fact, peak blossoming usually takes place in mid-April. Ready to visit? The sakura groves can be found to the left of the Chumon gate.
Opening Hours: 8am-5pm
Admission Fee: 500 JPY
Location: 33 Omuroouchi, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8092, Japan
Wherever you choose to go to enjoy the sakura blooming in Kyoto, we know you’ll be swept away by their pastel hues that are a true spring celebration. And for those who can't visit in person, be sure to check out our Instagram for lots of upcoming sakura content!
More Recommendations for Sakura Lovers
P.S Eager to explore more cherry blossom locations? Here are some other stunning spots in Kyoto!
- Maruyama Park
- Kamogawa River
- Yodogawa River Park
- Daigoji Temple]
- Yawaragi Road
- Nijo Castle
- Hirano Shrine
- Umemiya Taisha
- Haradani Garden