Kyoto in Spring

Spring, is for sure one of the two best seasons to visit Kyoto!  This is the famous Cherry Blossom Season (Hanami) In Kyoto!

Although it is different from year to year, it is pretty safe to say that the cherry blossoms usually bloom in the last week of March and the first two weeks of April in Kyoto.  Once they bloom, they are notoriously fickle: sometimes almost all the trees will come into full bloom (“mankai”) at the same time and stay in full bloom for a week or even longer.  Other times, cherries in different parts of the city will peak at different times and some trees will start dropping petals while others still haven’t peaked. Worse yet, heavy rains can strike just after most trees have reached peak, bringing the petals down several days earlier than they might have lasted.

In 2014, we were able to enjoy flowers almost during the whole of April (considering the late blooming variety of cherry trees).  However, in 2015 the blooming started suddenly, surprising a lot of people, and didn’t last more than a week because of rain and wind.

It is really pretty difficult to predict when the cherry blossoms will peak

Timing your trip to coincide with the cherry blossoms is a very tricky affair. If you leave yourself only a couple of days in Kyoto, you might find that you’ve arrived just after the cherries have bloomed, or you might have the frustrating experience of seeing the trees approaching peak just as you have to leave the city. In order to be sure of catching the cherries at their peak, you’d have to stay 10 days or so in the city, and this would cost a fortune at high-season rates.

Here are a few sites and destinations we recommend for seeing the flowers of the Kyoto “Hanami” at their finest…

Hanami Party in Maruyama Koen

Hanami (“flower viewing”) is the traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers. This often involves a picnic party to enjoy the cherry blossoms as well as food and drinks. People have a Hanami party with friends, family or colleagues . . .

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Okame Cherry at the Chotokuji Temple

This year’s cherry blossom is a bit late…. But there are still various places where one can see and enjoy cherry flowers. The Omake Cherry Tree in front of the Chotokuji Temple is one of the first to bloom in Kyoto. And it’s been an amazing view for the last few days.

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The Aoi Matsuri Festival

The Aoi Matsuri (葵祭) is one of Kyoto’s three most famous festivals and takes place every May 15th. The festival’s main attraction is a large parade in Kyoto, in which over 500 people dressed in the style of the Heian Period (794-1185)

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Last flower viewing of 2016

As this year’s Hanami season comes to an end, the last place to visit around Kyoto is often the Ninna-Ji Temple (仁和寺). Located in the North West part of town, this temple is quite famous for its Omuro cherry trees, ancient, dwarf, late-flowering trees.

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Cherry flowers and People

One of Kyoto most popular hanami spots in April is without doubt The Path of Philosophy (“Tetsugaku-no-michi” in Japanese). It is a pleasant stone path through the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district, that follows a canal lined up by hundreds of cherry trees.

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The Sakura Season has started!

On 23rd of March, 2016, Kyoto weather forecast station announced the first bloom of cherry, or in other words, the beginning of this year’s Hanami — the Cherry Blossom Season.
This is four days earlier than last year and five days earlier than the average year.

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Hanami 2016

Hanami – 花見- in Japanese literally means “Flowers Viewing”, but we usually understand it as Cherry Blossom. But the cherry is not the only type of flowers we can enjoy, and the Hanami season doesn’t start in late March or early April…

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Hirano Jinja, a Favorite Hanami Spot

Hirano Jinja (Shrine) is a very old Shinto shrine — established in the year 794. It is among the most popular spots in Kyoto among Japanese people for its gardens and numerous cherry trees, for viewing the flowers, singing and drinking.

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The Philosopher’s Path

The Philosopher’s Path (哲学の道, Tetsugaku no michi) is a pleasant stone path through the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. The path follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of cherry trees.

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Light Show at the Shoren-In Temple

Shoren-In is certainly not one of the main temples around, but it really is a very nice one and has undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens in Kyoto. This is not a mere lighting up of the garden, but it is an actual light show.

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Plum blossoms at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

While most people think “Cherry Blossom” when considering the Hanami season, it actually starts with the plum blossoms around the end of February. This is, a few weeks before the cherry blossoms, the actual beginning of spring in Kyoto.

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Hanami – Flower Viewing

Hanami (lit. “flower viewing”) is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers. “Flower” in this case almost always means cherry blossoms (“sakura”). From the middle of March to early May, the Japanese people …

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Ninna-ji Temple

Ninna-ji (仁和寺) is the head temple of the Omuro school of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. It is located in western Kyoto, near Ryoanji and Kinkakuji. We usually visit all three temples on the same day.

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