My 1-day cherry blossom viewing plan in Kyoto…
It’s about time.
Yes, it’s about time to PLAN and ORGANIZE your trip in Japan for an amazing, romantic, breathtaking cherry blossom viewing experience.
In Japan, “flower viewing” is called “Hanami” – “Hana” means flower, usually cherry or plum in spring, “Mi” means “to view” or “to see”. It is one of the Japanese traditional customs and an instant image pop up in mind from Manga which folks sat on a huge mat on the ground in the park and happily eating, and drinking, and singing Karaoke…
I have been visiting Japan for cherry blossoms in different places for a few years now, and I think I will share them one by one. However, the most iconic Hanami destinations would no doubt be in Kyoto.
So here it is, some popular places in Kyoto where you could spot lovely cherry blossom:
Wake up in the morning and enjoy a little breakfast, and then wherever you are, you will need a Kyoto City bus all-day pass that allows you to travel around the city the whole day!
Philosopher’s Path >> Ginkaku-ji >> Honen-in >> Gojo-zaka >> Kiyomizu Temple >> Gion >> Yasaka Shrine >> Shirokawa Area >> Maruyama Park >> Hanami Koji Street
Daily Budget: JPY5000-8000 (exclude shopping)
Just buy it on the bus – Adult JPY500, Child JPY250
Zones include Arashiyama, Sagano, Takao, Shugakuin, etc. – it would be enough for my plan 🙂
I stayed in Kyoto Plaza Hotel (京都プラザホテル) which is a budget hotel, and as always, I like it close to the JR train station. Hop on the bus #100 @ the bus stop in front of the JR train station and for about 12 bus stops (28 mins), hop off the Ginkaku-ij mae station and cross the road to arrive the Philosopher’s path – a pleasant pedestrian stone path along a stream with hundreds of cherry trees planted. Philosopher’s walk is definitely on the first of my list for cherry blossom viewing. Go earlier in the morning to avoid the crowd, and it has enough space and angles to make sure you get stunning photos with the amazing scenery – up close and personal 🙂
Have fun posing in front of your favorite trees and photo-taking, go back to the main road once you arrive Ginkaku-ji, and drop by the small gift shops and send a postcard to home at the post office.
Hop on the bus #100 again, and you should reach Gojo-zaka mae, walk along Shimizu New Way Chawan-zaka that heading towards the iconic (and possibly most recognizable?) temple in Kyoto – Kiyomizu dera.
There is a lot to see and do in the temple, which there is an abundance of information from the internet. My recommendation – don’t miss the chance to sit down in Rokkatei and enjoy a bowl of udon and red-bean soup on your right in the temple as an early lunch (just to avoid the crowd). Sitting in the pavilion, a comforting breeze blows down the sakura drops like confetti, landing on your head, and landing on your bowl …. right there, a poetic movie scene right in front of your eyes.
Rokkatei – www.rokkatei.co.jp
Another must-have is the Okuten tofu place along the Matsubara Dori – a warming bun and tofu soup will warm you up and give you the energy for the walk before dinner 😛 yum yum.
You will have an exciting time shopping Omiyage in hundreds of souvenir shops and gift shops in the Gion area – prepare a giant bags so you don’t have to carry them around ~ if you want some snacks, or if you are a sweet tooth, dessert places and cake shops are all around. I was overwhelmed by each shop and it makes every trip to Kyoto brand new and exciting.
Famous places like Shoyeido www.shoyeido.co.jp/, Iwai http://www.kyoto-iwai.co.jp/, Baizando www.baizando.jp/, Nishiri www.nishiri.co.jp/, 8284 www.8284.co.jp/, kasagiya, and Giontsujiri www.giontsujiri.co.jp/saryo/.
Maruyama Park is one of the most notable cherry blossom viewing place – with a weeping hundred-year-old cherry tree, food stalls and lots of festivities. I had so much fun being a local and sat under the cherry blossom in the open area.
Right before dinner, spend some time in Gion city area and take some photos at the Shirokawa area – ever since I saw a picture (maybe from the “Memoir of a Geisha”) of weeping cherry and willow suspend over the serene stream, I have put it on my bucket list of things-to-do in Kyoto.
To top up the whole experience (and if you still have some time to spare), try on the rickshaw and end the day with an unforgettable experience ~
After dinner, have a walk along the Hanami Koji Dori, you may (and probably) run into a working Geisha on the road !!
Tip: Many people visit Shirokawa at night for Night Sakura, and there is a chance to run into a working Geisha, too!