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Cherry blossom in Kyoto

  • Kyoto, Kansai, Japan

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 18 March, 2024

Every spring Japan goes into sakura (cherry blossom) frenzy. The subject of everything from traditional haiku verse and woodblock prints to apps that track its flowering, sakura is deeply woven into Japanese culture.

Sakura are the blossoms of ornamental cherry trees – although found across Asia, Japan has historically been home to especially large varieties which were subsequently cultivated into today’s impressive displays. Reflecting both its aesthetic and its importance to Japanese culture, cherry blossom became the national flower of Japan.

When the blossoms briefly reach peak bloom in late March or early April, nothing is as Japanese as heading out to enjoy a spot of hanami (cherry blossom viewing). Whether you find blossoms in a park heaving with picnickers or a quiet stretch of petal-strewn riverbank, hanami is accessible to all. Just get a picnic sheet, a few drinks and something to snack on – then chill under the sakura’s shade.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Arashiyama Park

  • Kyoto, Kansai, Japan

bridge across water through a blossom-filled valley

Experience

A good family option with food stalls and rowboats, the riverbank area in this northwestern district explodes with pink blossoms. Also view them from the famous Togetsukyo (reflected-moon bridge).

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 2 months

When: March & April

Freq: annually

Maruyama Park

  • Kyoto, Kansai, Japan

People socialising at tables under blossom trees

Experience

This extremely popular spot near Gion has a giant weeping cherry tree that’s illuminated at night, plus loads of food stalls.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 2 months

When: March & April

Freq: annually

Philosopher’s Path

  • Kyoto, Kansai, Japan

Walkway through blossom

Experience

Hundreds of cherry trees line this pretty canal-side pathway that runs just over a mile between the Ginkakuji and Nanzenji temples.

Good for age: 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
Frequency: annually
When: March & April
Duration: 2 months