5 Best Spots to Catch Kyoto’s Cherry Blossoms

If you plan to visit Kyoto during one of the best times to be in Japan – the Sakura (cherry blossom) season, you must explore the best cherry blossom spots like Heian Shrine, Keage Incline, Kamogawa Delta, Sanzen-in Temple, and Kameoka Town. 

Ideally, the Sakura season in Kyoto starts in late March and stays until mid-April. However, it does fluctuate every year. So, to experience hanami – cherry blossoms viewing in Kyoto in its full-fledged form, I think it is best to check the Kyoto cherry blossom forecast beforehand.

That said, tourists flood Kyoto every year to view the blossoms. While it is impossible to avoid the crowd, I have compiled a list of the five best places to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto, which are breathtaking and comparatively less crowded!   

1. Experience an Iconic Cherry Blossom Hideout at Heian Shrine

Remember Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) hopping from one stone to another in Lost in Translation? Yes, I am talking about the Heian Shrine of Kyoto. 

Although famous for its features and massive red tori gate, the shrine is also a gateway to one of the best spots to catch Kyoto’s cherry blossoms—the Shin’en garden!

It is a Japanese-style garden that costs 600 yen to enter. It boasts a charming pond that blends with stones and a Bridge of Peace—Taihei-kaku. No matter which part of the garden you are in, every angle gives a distinct frame of cherry blossoms. 

Go on weekdays between 6 am and 6 pm to avoid excessive crowds. Also, do not forget to collect handwritten goushin (a red stamp) and custom-made unique souvenirs from here.

Bonus Spot: A minute away from Heian Shrine is Okazaki Cannel, a famous cherry blossom spot in Kyoto. Walk the popular Sakura corridor or take a boat ride to view the blossoms up close. 

2. Walk through the Cherry Blossom Tunnel at Keage Incline

If you want to walk under the shed of cherry blossom trees, head to Keage Incline. It is picture-perfect, with approximately 100 cherry trees forming a natural tunnel for a stretch of 582 meters. 

Originally a railway connector between Lake Biwa and Kamo River for agricultural use and generating electricity, Keage Incline is now an abandoned track and is open 24 hours for visitors. 

It is heaven on Earth during the cherry blossom time in Kyoto. Don’t miss the statue and the single weeping cherry tree at the end of the track! 

Besides, the spot is very convenient as you can reach it within a 2-3 minute walk from the Keage station. By the way, the railway track is rocky, so wear a good pair of shoes and visit before 7 am to get the ultimate shots without the crowd. 

3. Enjoy a Traditional Hanami at the Kamogawa Delta

Besides viewing the cherry blossoms, hanami also includes a picnic with loved ones under the cherry trees. And one of the best spots to enjoy hanami in Kyoto is the Kamogawa Delta.

The Kamogawa Delta, or Kamo River Delta, is the amalgamation point of the Kamo and Takano Rivers. It is generally filled with locals rather than tourists and gives an authentic insight into hanami. 

I highly recommend making this your starting point and walking or cycling along the banks. You can even slow down and set up a picnic mat with sake and a bento box from Takashimaya to soak in the cherry blossoms in Kyoto, which is a tradition!

4. Catch an Offbeat Sight of Kyoto’s Cherry Blossoms at Sanzen-in Temple

Sanzen-in Temple in Ohara – a farming village of Kyoto, is the perfect offbeat spot to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto. The quaint atmosphere mixed with pink and white blooms makes it my favourite spot to catch Kyoto’s cherry blossoms.

Approximately, there are about 500 cherry trees in and around the Sanzen-in Temple. It looks stunning when the entire temple gets covered with blossoms. Even during autumn foliage, Sanzen-in is equally beguiling.  

In addition, as it is on the northern side of Kyoto – cherry blossoms bloom a little later in this area. So, in case you’ve missed the blooms in the Kyoto centre, you know where to head. Plus, don’t miss out on the seasonal souvenirs. 

Bonus Spot: Visit the Takano River near Ohara Memorial Hotspot to view lined-up cherry blossom trees.

5. Escape the Cherry Blossom Crowd at Kameoka Town 

Just an hour from Kyoto, Kameoka is a town with more than 1500 cherry blossom trees—and that too without the crowd! What more could you ask for? 

If you’re done with the “popular” spots, I highly recommend exploring this hidden gem and admiring Kyoto’s cherry blossoms. Start with Yawaragi Road on the banks of the Nanatani River. Then, move to the nearby Sakura Park, which has 280 cherry blossom trees of different varieties. 

Plus, you can also opt for the Hozugawa-kudari boat ride to Arashiyama. It is one of the best ways to see the cherry blossoms in Kyoto.

Is Kyoto’s Cherry Blossom Worth the Hype? 

Kyoto dressed in pink and white is worth all the hype! One thing is sure—you won’t be disappointed. Despite the crowd, I was in awe of every turn I took in Kyoto. 

No doubt, Kyoto provides the best backdrop to view cherry blossoms with its shrines, temples, and 17 UNESCO heritages. So, without any second thoughts – plan your solo trip to Kyoto skilfully and watch the cherry blossoms bloom!


An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.

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