Cherry blossom season is always very tricky. This year, it came one week earlier then last year. A few years ago, it was over after a heavy rain.. Either you come for at least 8-10 days from late March to early April, or you gather your luck. If your timing is right, here are my top 10 spots for making the best of sakura precious lessons on ephemerality.
1// Kamogawa riverside
Kamogawa riverside is my favourite place in Kyoto. It never fails to blow away my worries and energise me. Just hearing the sounds of its flowing waters and the calls of black kites makes me happy. With the rows of cherry trees lining up along its bank, it becomes even prettier in spring.
2// Philosopher’s path
You will certainly not be admiring sakura blossoms alone here, but the stroll along this pedestrian path between Ginkaku-ji and Eikando temples that follows a canal is worth enduring the crowds.
3// Nanzen-ji temple
Climb up the wooden Sanmon gate of this famous Zen temple for a spectacular view its compounds or just walk around for the blossoms’ close-ups.
4// Keage Incline
Instead of leaving Nanzen-ji temple through its main gate, follow the path on the top of the aqueduct and it will lead you to a gentle slope with old railroad tracks bordered by cherry trees.
5// Okazaki Park & Oto Canal
A nice place to relax after visiting one of the museums (including the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts!) in the area.
6// Shin’en Garden of Heian shrine
The gardens of Heian shrine are particularly lovely in this season, and they have a few fine specimens of weeping cherry trees.
7// Yasaka, Ninenzaka & Sannenzaka streets
Narrow paved streets leading to Kiyomizu-dera temple are always packed with tourists, but worth strolling around nevertheless. Sunset golden hour is the best.
8// Kiyomizu-dera temple
The view you get from this temple is drop-dead gorgeous in any season (you can have a glimpse of the temple under the snow here).
9// Ryoan-ji temple
In fact, this temple is famous not only for its disappearing 15th stone, but also for its cherry trees. The earthen wall enclosing the garden is the perfect example of wabi-sabi for me.
10// Shinsen’en temple
Last on my list, but not the least, is this hidden gem of a small pond garden, one of the oldest in Kyoto, situated 500 m from Nijo Castle.