The pink cherry blossom, a masterpiece of nature much swooned over by poets and picnic lovers, sweeps across Japan each year, and the former capital city Kyoto is one of the greatest places to view this stunning seasonal change. Below are some of the best spots to find the most beautiful views.

Kamo-gawa river

Gion Shirakawa during spring blossom season
Gion Shirakawa during spring blossom season (c) Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau

There are striking views of the cherry blossom, or “Hanami” as it is locally known, on the banks of the Kamo-gawa River. But prepare for the scene along the waterway. This serene body of water runs through the city centre and looks incredibly beautiful when the trees that hem its banks are in full cherry blossom bloom.

The area between Kitayama and Kita-oji are renowned for being especially beautiful places from which the blossom can be appreciated and is a go-to place at this time of year.

Maruyama park

Ninna-ji Temple during spring blossom season
Ninna-ji Temple during spring blossom season (c) Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau

Away from the water, there are several parks in Kyoto where cherry blossom can be found in all its glory. Maruyama Park is beloved for the dramatic weeping cherry trees it has played home to since they were planted in 1949 and the spectacular events held there in the evenings between March and April provide an unforgettable experience. For an experience like a true Kyotoite, visitors can also go to this park in the Gion district to savour a lunchtime picnic of Japanese delicacies and sake under the blossom-laden branches.

Oharano and Hirano shrines

Sengan-sakura at Oharano Shrine
Sengan-sakura at Oharano Shrine (c) Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau

Throw in a little sight-seeing too by visiting the shrines and temples. In the west of Kyoto lies a highly photogenic hidden gem – Oharano Shrine. For three precious days a year, the cherry blossoms create one of the most spectacular spring sights in the city. Known as ‘Sengan-sakura,’ which translates as a thousand wishes, onlookers can make a wish and have their dreams come true.

Elsewhere at the Hirano Shrine, the hundreds of flourishing trees can be seen both during daylight or once the sun has set, when celebrations amid the illuminated scenes carry on into the night.

Where to Stay in Kyoto

Kyoto Tours and Activities

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Make sure you also read The Momiji-gari: Red Leaf Hunting in Kyoto

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