Visit Kyoto city during the cherry blossom season in Japan and you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised. Why? When you stay in Kyoto you won’t need to jump on a train and spend half your day traveling to Tokyo or Kumagaya City to see the spectacular blooming of the sakura trees.

You’ll find that there are cherry blossom trees blooming all around the city, from inside the grounds of famous temples and shrines to just next to the Kamogawa River running through central Kyoto. There’s a reason Kyoto is one of the best places to view cherry blossoms, beloved by both locals and tourists alike. We’re here to let you in on some of our favorite places for hanami, or flower viewing, that will keep you away from the main crowds of the city.

When is the Kyoto Cherry Blossom Season?

Sakura, or cherry blossom in Japanese, is Japan’s national flower and it doesn’t hold that honor just because it’s pretty. Cherry blossom is also symbolic and represents renewal and rebirth. Sakura’s early springtime display of blooms may signify the end of winter, but they also act as a reminder that, like the cherry blossom season in Japan, life is short and each moment should be enjoyed.

It’s difficult to predict exactly when the cherry blossom in Kyoto is going to be at its most magnificent. There are many things that can affect the annual blooming of the cherry trees. A prolonged spell of cold weather or springtime rain showers can happen and delay the event. Sometimes, it seems, that Mother Nature also likes to give us a lesson in patience and makes us wait an extra few days to see the first pink petals unfurl.

As a general guide though you can anticipate that the cherry blossom season in Kyoto will begin around the last week of March. Then the blooming usually continues throughout the first fifteen days or so of April. We feel the peak viewing time is mid-way through those brief three weeks. If you’re planning on visiting Kyoto to see the cherry blossom, we recommend visiting during that window.

Where to See Cherry Blossom in Kyoto

There are many famous spots for cherry blossoming viewing in Kyoto city. As they are well known, you’ll find that these places usually have the most concentration of visitors. If you’re looking for less crowded places, away from the crowds, check out some of our favorite cherry blossom spots in Kyoto.

See our recommended accommodations in Kyoto: MACHIYA RESIDENCE INN KYOTO

Tetsugaku no Michi

The Philosopher's Path

For us there’s no better way to contemplate the beauty of Kyoto’s cherry blossom than to observe it while following in the footsteps of Nishida Kitaro, a well-known Japanese philosopher. The Philosopher’s Path, named after Nishida, is a paved walkway that runs for two kilometers alongside a narrow, man-made waterway called the Lake Biwa Canal. It is lined with 400 cherry trees from where it begins next to the Silver Pavilion, the Ginkakuji Temple, to where it ends in the Nanzenji Temple neighborhood.

To keep away from the crowds, we recommend exploring the path from the Ginkakuji Temple area. Most visitors tend to begin the walk from Nanzenji Temple, as it is located more centrally within the city and is easier to access. Comparatively, you’ll find that the area of the path near Ginkakuji Temple has much less visitors.

Before you walk the Philosopher’s Path, be sure to explore the gardens and temple buildings of Ginkakuji Temple. While the temples are not open to the public, you can walk through the gardens and up a hilltop from where you can admire the temple architecture and the Kyoto cityscape behind them. It’s a breathtaking sight, no matter the season!

The Kamogawa River Walkway

The Kamogawa River walkway is the perfect place to take a leisurely waterside stroll when the Kyoto cherry blossoms are in bloom. You’ll find hundreds of cherry blossoms, ranging in color from white to various shades of pink, all along the river, filling the air with their soft fragrance.

Many Kyoto visitors will flock to the area of the river between Shijo Street and Shichijo Street for flower viewing, but we recommend checking out the area of the walkway between Shichijo and Kujo Street. This area of the Kamogawa River, south of the JR Kyoto Station, sees much less visitors, and you’ll be able to take your time taking photos and enjoying the cherry blossoms.

If you’re checking out the best things to do in Kyoto at the same time as seeing the cherry blossom then you’ll also find this area of the city very interesting. Both the Kyoto National Museum and the Kyoto Railway Museum are nearby. You’ll want to add the Kyoto Tower to your must-visit list too as it’s just a few minutes walk away. The panoramic views from the hundred meter-high observation deck in the Kyoto Tower are incredible.

Kyoto Botanical Gardens

The Kyoto Botanical Gardens are a wonderful place to immerse yourself in the world of Japanese flora at any time of the year. It’s even more wondrous when it’s cherry blossom season, and spending a morning or afternoon there becomes a truly magical experience.

The gardens are due to celebrate their centenary year in 2024. In the hundred years since they were first opened, the gardens have spread to cover almost sixty acres. No, not all of the gardens are taken up by cherry trees, but there are well over four hundred spread around the grounds. Those trees make a glorious show and offer countless photo opportunities. You’ll also find a myriad of other spring flowers, so you’ll be able to enjoy flower viewing at its best. It’s peaceful in the gardens, so when you want a relaxing hanami experience, you won’t go wrong if you head to the Kyoto Botanical Gardens.

Yamashina Sosui Canal

The Yamashina Sosui Canal is a part of the Lake Biwa Canal that cuts through the Yamashina neighborhood of Kyoto city. There are pathways lined with over 660 cherry blossom trees on both sides of this four kilometer stretch of the canal. On one side under the trees you will find picnic tables and benches where you can sit to enjoy the tranquility and appreciate the beauty of the blossom. As its a little out of the way of central Kyoto, this area sees much less traffic from cherry blossom seeking visitors.

Walking the pathways of the canal isn’t the only way you can see the cherry blossom in this part of Kyoto. A great alternative is taking the Lake Biwa canal cruise. You can board the cruise at the Yamashina boat dock from where it sets off to navigate the petal-strewn waters of the canal. In some places along the canal the branches of the weeping cherry trees almost touch those on the opposite side forming a blossom tunnel. It’s a sight that will literally make you sigh with delight at the beauty.

Tip: Because the boats are small, they only carry twelve passengers, so we recommend booking your ticket online ahead of time!


To see the cherry blossom in Takoa, you’ll need to go a little out of your way, but we think the one-hour bus ride it takes to get there from JR Kyoto Station is more than worth the time it takes. Takao is a village and historic temple site that occupies part of a wooded valley below Mount Takao. To spend a day here really is the ideal way to get back to nature and absorb some Japanese culture at the same time. Although this area is well known for phenomenal fall views, the breathtaking cherry blossom scenery is still not as well known.

One of the temples at the Takao site, the 8th century Kozanji Temple, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has its own tea plantation. As well as viewing the historic temples you can hike several trails through the woods and up the mountainside. In Takao the trees bloom later because of the higher altitude which is something to keep in mind if you miss the peak Kyoto cherry blossom season.

Top Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots to Keep Away From the Crowds

Where to stay when in Japan


Stay in a traditional Japanese-style accommodation during your next visit to Japan.

Related Posts