17 Jan 2014

Sakura



Metaphorically, the fleeting nature of the cherry blossoms represents the short-lived nature of life. So why not take the time to enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms while feasting on delicious food and drinks until the early morning hours? Below are some recommended of the best spots to enjoy the hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season in Kyoto.

Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, is the perfect way to bid farewell to the winter and celebrate the beginning of spring. Beginning in late March and continuing until the middle of April, many people gather together to enjoy the company of friends and family under the blossoms, while eating and drinking. The festivities start in the day and can continue until late into the night and you will often find many vendors setting up food stalls alongside the trees.

A visit to Kyoto during this season is a great way to experience a long-standing Japanese tradition and also view the other cultural treasures of the city. Here are some of the best spots to experience the sakura blossoms in Kyoto.

Maruyama Koen Park


 
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Image source: http://hinamatsuri.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/dsc01356.jpg

Located right next to Yasaka-jinja, Maruyama Park is undoubtedly the most popular spot for hanami viewing in early April. The park is marked with a 40-foot central tall weeping cherry tree, which gets lit up come nightfall until 1AM. A festive atmosphere comes alive during this season, as vendors set up their stalls and tables underneath the blossoms for people to indulge in food and drinks. Due to its popularity, it can get very noisy so if you are looking for more of a low-key and contemplative experience, we suggest you opt for The Philosopher's Path (see below).

Access


From Kyoto Station, you can take the 100 or 206 bus for 20 minutes and get off at Gion bus stop. Walk to Yasaka Shrine and the park is behind the shrine.

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The Philosopher’s Path


 
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Image source: http://www.japan-guide.com

Located in the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district, the Philosopher’s Path follows a canal that is lined by hundreds of blossoming cherry blossom trees during the season. The canal was built during the Meiji Period to boost the economy and later on was used to power Japan's first hydroelectric plant. If you want to kill two birds with one stone and visit a few of Kyoto's famous temples, the path starts at Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) and ends in Nanzenji Temple. This walk is very scenic and there are also many restaurants, cafés and smaller temples along the path.

Access


The Philosopher's Path is located between Gingkakuji and Nanzenji neighbourhood. To get to Ginkakuji, take the 5, 17 or 100 bus for 30-45 minutes (depending on traffic) from Kyoto Station.

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Arashiyama


 
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Image source: http://www.japan-guide.com

Although this area requires quite a trek away from the city center and it is worth the pilgrimage. Located in the Western outskirts of Kyoto, Arashiyama is particularly popular during the fall foliage and cherry blossom seasons. Around the Togetsukyo Bridge, you will find many shops and restaurants that you can stop in for a break from walking.

Access


Take a one-way ride with the JR (Japan Railways) Sagano Line from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama station. From the station, the walk to Central Arashiyama takes 5-10 minutes.

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Kiyomizu-dera Temple


 
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Image source: http://www.japan-guide.com

The wooden stage/balcony of the temple will provide you with stunning views of the cherry blossoms, as well as a exquisite view of the entire city. Near the exit of the temple grounds is a pond that has a large number of sakura trees. Visiting Kiyomizu-dera is an ideal way to enjoy the cherry blossoms and also visit one of Kyoto's most famed sites.

Access



From Kyoto Station, take the 100 or 206 bus for 15-20 minutes until you reach Kiyomizu-michi bus stop. Then, walk uphill to reach the temple.

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