Hello! I'm Kusuke, have lived in 4 years in Kyoto as a student of Kyoto University.
In this article, I am delighted to share my insider insights on the 10 must-visit spots in Kyoto during spring, showcasing the breathtaking views of cherry blossoms.
Rest assured, there are no affiliate links here – just pure recommendations crafted from the fond memories of the springtime of my life!
Table of Contents
- To-ji Temple
- Heian Jingu Shrine
- Kodaiji Temple
- Keage Incline
- Philosopher’s Path
- Nijo-jo Castle
- Daigoji Temple
- Hirano Shrine
- Ninna-ji Temple
- Hozugawa River － Sagano Train and Boat Ride
1. Toji Temple
Kyoto Station is often the first stop for many travelers visiting Kyoto.
If your hotel is near Kyoto Station, To-ji Temple is a fantastic choice to experience cherry blossom viewing.
Located just a 15-minute walk from Kyoto Station, To-ji Temple boasts around 200 cherry blossom trees.
During late March to early April, the temple irregularly opens at night, allowing visitors to enjoy the illuminated cherry blossoms.
Be sure to check the opening dates and times on To-ji Temple's official website!
2. Heian Jingu Shrine
Most travelers will visit the Gion area during their stay in Kyoto.
In Gion, Heian Jingu Shrine stands out as one of the wonderful places to enjoy cherry blossoms.
Many famous Japanese novelists admired the cherry blossoms of Heian Jingu Shrine.
At the beginning of April, there are very few days when the cherry blossoms at Heian Jingu Shrine are illuminated.
If you have the chance, don’t miss it!
3. Kodaiji Temple
Kodaiji Temple is located a 20-minute walk from Heian Jingu Shrine.
While Kodaiji Temple may not be as well-known as Heian Jingu Shrine, it holds a special place in my heart as one of my favorite spots.
At night, the temple and its gardens, including the cherry blossoms, are illuminated from the middle of March to the beginning of May.
It creates a mysterious atmosphere that surely makes it an unforgettable sight!
Spring is the optimal time to visit Kodaiji Temple.
4. Keage Incline
Keage Incline may not be as well-known among overseas travelers, but it is undoubtedly one of the best spots to visit in spring.
This historic railway, no longer in use, features approximately 100 cherry blossom trees lining both sides.
Capturing photos reminiscent of a movie scene at Keage Incline is a must!
Additionally, along the Lake Biwa Canal, you'll find other excellent cherry blossom viewing spots like Okazaki.
Be sure to check the official website to discover your favorite location!
5. Philosopher’s Path
Philosopher’s Path is a promenade near Ginkakuji Temple, named after the famous Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida, who walked and meditated along it every morning.
As you stroll along this path, blanketed by cherry blossoms like a canopy in the warm spring weather, what thoughts come to mind?
6. Nijo-jo Castle
Castles were constructed by worloads aspiring to become an shogun.
Since Kyoto served as the ancient capital of Japan, where emperors resided for centuries, there were few castles in Kyoto.
Ieyasu Tokugawa, who ascended to the shogun, built Nijo-jo Castle after becoming the shogun.
Thus, Nijo-jo Castle was not built for warfare, but as a residence. Surrounding the castle are approximately 300 cherry blossom trees.
Every year, from early March to early April, the castle and cherry blossoms are illuminated. Immerse yourself in the experience of being the shogun atop Nijo-jo Castle while enjoying the panoramic spring view of Kyoto city!
7. Daigoji Temple
Daigoji Temple may not be widely recognized, but it is certainly worth a visit.
With its 700 cherry blossom trees, it has been designated as one of the top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan.
While it may be a bit distant from the more popular areas of Kyoto, it is likely to be less crowded compared to places like Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
8. Hirano Shrine
Hirano Shrine may not be well known, but it is a traditional spot for cherry blossom viewing.
With approximately 400 cherry trees of 60 varieties, each blooming at different times, visitors can enjoy the cherry blossoms for an extended period during spring.
9. Ninna-ji Temple
The most famous cherry blossom tree at Ninna-ji Temple blooms later in spring.
Many cultural figures have composed Haiku, a traditional form of Japanese poetry with specific restrictions on the number of words, inspired by the cherry blossoms at Ninna-ji Temple.
What poetry comes to mind when you see the cherry blossoms at Ninna-ji Temple?
10. Hozugawa River － Sagano Train and Boat Ride
Finally, I would like to introduce the Hozugawa River.
It is located far from the main area of Kyoto, so visiting the Hozugawa River area would require a full day.
However, I believe it is worth spending a day there.
Along the Hozugawa River, you can admire many cherry blossoms in the wild.
One option is to take the Sagano Train, where you can enjoy cherry blossoms from the comfort of a traditional train.
Another option is to take a boat ride, where you can view the cherry blossoms from a traditional ship controlled by a skilled veteran master.
It's difficult to decide between the two options... perhaps experiencing both would be the best choice to enjoy spring.
What are we?
We run Ninja Experience Cafe in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, Japan.
Here you can immerse yourself in Japanese culture through experiencing ninja training.
Both adults and children are welcome to try their hand at defeating the ninja master inside the cafe.
The cafe is an indoor interactive zone, so it can be enjoyed even on rainy days.
If you are thinking "I want to be a real ninja too!” or interested in becoming a real ninja, please visit us.
Reservations can be made here.