Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - when is best time to go to japan for spring travel march or april for cherry blossoms, sakura hanami. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel blog

 

So the first thing to know about going to Kyoto during cherry blossom season…

 

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - when is best time to go to japan for spring travel march or april for cherry blossoms - tourist peak season with crowds. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

CROWDS!

But that’s okay. (Just like when you’re going to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo or cherry blossoms in Osaka.)

Because there are a ton of tourists who visit Kyoto during this time for a reason.

There are LOTS of cherry blossoms to be seen around all around Kyoto!

 

 

If you’ll be in Kyoto outside of cherry blossom season, or you are looking for more places to visit in Kyoto, also see the 1-day, 2-day, and 5-day general Kyoto itineraries.

 

 

Now…

First, the quick list of the places to visit on a cherry blossom photo walk in Kyoto.

Then, a few more photos to get a better idea of what spots you may want to prioritize!

 

 

So…

Where to go for a 1-day cherry blossom Kyoto photo walk?!

 

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Cherry blossoms can be found all over Kyoto, so you’ll also see them as you’re walking between these places too.

 

1. Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

2. Sannenzaka slope

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - ninenzaka sannenzaka slope cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

3. Kodaiji Temple

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kodaiji zen temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

4. Maruyama Park

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom, picnic near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

5. Heian Shrine

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - heian shrine japanese gardens cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

6. Keage Incline

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - keage incline cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

7. Philosopher’s Path

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - philosophers path walk cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

 

Cherry blossom route map

 

 

For the visual, have a look at this Kyoto cherry blossom map.

Also see the walking route map.

 

This is the basic route I followed.

It does involve a decent amount of walking, so be prepared with your walking shoes or travel sandals!

You may choose to skip one or more spots depending on how much you want to walk.

If you were to do a point-to-point walk of all the places listed, it will be about 4.5 miles or 7km, or 1.5 hours of walking.

But in reality, it will be more, as you’ll also be walking around the area of the different places.

 

 

Cherry blossoms + kimono photo opp in Kyoto

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto with kimono rental. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

So it is kind of a thing for foreigners to rent a Japanese kimono and then head off for a photo opportunity dressed up.

This is a thing during cherry blossom season too.

 

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto with kimono rental. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

There are lots of kimono rental shops around Kyoto.

And while you will mostly see female tourists dressed up in a kimono, they are not just for girls and women.

In Japan, boys and men wear kimonos too.

 

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto with kimono rental for men, boys. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

To see what you get with a kimono rental, have a look at the video here. (partner website.)

 

 

Cherry blossoms + rickshaw ride

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto with rickshaw ride. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

There are also “rickshaws” in Kyoto.

These are are human-powered, and they are located mostly around top tourist attractions.

You can get dressed up in a kimono, and then go for a rickshaw ride too!

Or you can get the rickshaw without the kimono.

 

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto with rickshaw ride. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Now…

Photos of some of the best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto!

 

 

 

 

Getting to Kiyomizu-dera Temple

There are a few different ways to get to Kiyomizu-dera Temple from Kyoto Station.

You can get a bus that will drop you pretty close to the temple.

There are also subway stations that may be a 10-20 minute walk from the temple grounds.

I have found Google Maps to be a reliable way to get around Kyoto locally.

If you’re in Kyoto with a JR pass, using the Japan Travel Navitime app may be helpful, as there’s a filter you can use to show options using the “tourist pass.” (The best option to get somewhere may not always be using your JR pass though, so watch out for that!) Also have a look at the JR bus route to go to other places.

 

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

There IS a fee to enter Kiyomizu-dera Temple, but for this cherry blossom walk, I didn’t go to the ticketed area, and there are plenty of cherry blossoms before the entry area.

But as one of the most famous UNESCO world heritage sites in Kyoto, you may consider going further.

 

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Kiyomizu-dera Temple to Sannenzaka

Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka are famous streets of Kyoto.

Sannenzaka is just a short walk from the main entry area of Kiyomizu-dera Temple, about a 5-10 minute walk.

There are small little shops along the way that you may want to stop at.

The first part of this cherry blossom walk basically follows the route of this Gion to Kiyomizu-dera walk (but in the opposite direction), so have a look to see if this area interests you!

 

Sannenzaka

A crowded little street, but popular photo spot… even more so with the cherry blossoms!

A point-to-point walk of these streets (slopes) might take you 5-10 minutes.

But you might want to stop at those little shops along the way!

A walk down the Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka streets will give you a bit of a feeling of “classic Kyoto”!

 

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - ninenzaka sannenzaka slope cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - ninenzaka sannenzaka slope cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - ninenzaka sannenzaka slope cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - ninenzaka sannenzaka slope cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Sannenzaka to Kodaiji Temple

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - kiyomizu-dera temple to maruyama park. (but first to ninenzaka, to sannenzaka, to kodaiji zen temple.) Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

Once you get past the famous slope streets, the temple is a walk of about a few minutes.

 

Kodaiji Zen Temple

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kodaiji zen temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

There is a fee to enter this temple, and the cost is around 600 yen (US$6).

The main cherry blossom attraction at this temple is basically a single cherry blossom tree.

 

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kodaiji zen temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kodaiji zen temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kodaiji zen temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kodaiji zen temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kodaiji zen temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kodaiji zen temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - Kodaiji zen temple cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Kodaiji Temple to Maruyama Park

This will be about a 10 minute walk.

 

Maruyama Park

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom, near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

So during cherry blossom season in Japan, it’s a thing to go for a picnic in the park sitting under the cherry blossom trees.

In Kyoto, one of the parks locals and tourists will go for a picnic with cherry blossom views is Maruyama Park.

So if you want a picnic in the park too, you may consider stopping by a convenience store in the morning to buy some food, snacks, and drinks.

 

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom, picnic near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom, picnic near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom, near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom, near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

Otherwise, you’ll find places to find food and drinks at the park too.

Maruyama Park can provide you with a festival-like atmosphere because of the vendors selling food at their pop-up shops.

 

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom festival sakura with street food, near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom festival sakura with street food, near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom festival sakura, near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom festival sakura with street food, near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom festival sakura, near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - maruyama park cherry blossom festival sakura, near gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

The Yasaka Shrine is right nearby, if you want to make a quick visit since you’re in the area.

 

 

Maruyama Park to Heian Shrine

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - chion-in temple - maruyama park gion to heian shrine. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

This will be about a 15-20 minute walk.

You’ll pass by the Chion-in Temple (pictured above) if you want to give it a visit.

 

And as you keep walking, you’ll approach a big red torii gate when you get near the Heian Shrine.

Right before this shrine gate, there’s a 7-eleven convenience store.

There are picnic tables out in front of this store, so you can grab some snacks and drinks for a little bit of rest here too.

 

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - 7-eleven convenience store in japan near heian shrine. maruyama park gion to heian shrine. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

You’ll also come across a canal near the torii gate that can provide some more cherry blossom photo spots.

 

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - lake biwa canal bridge and torii gate near heian shrine. maruyama park gion to heian shrine. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - lake biwa canal near heian shrine. maruyama park gion to heian shrine. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

Heian Shrine

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - heian shrine japanese gardens cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

There’s a fee to enter the shrine where you’ll find some nice views of cherry blossoms as you walk through the gardens.

The admissions fee here is around 600 yen (US$6).

 

Before the entry to the shrine gardens, there are a couple of cherry blossom trees.

 

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - heian shrine cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - heian shrine cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

And then when you go through the entry, you’ll be able to take a nice walk around the Japanese gardens here that include some cherry blossom trees.

 

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - heian shrine japanese gardens cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - heian shrine japanese gardens cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - heian shrine japanese gardens cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - heian shrine japanese gardens cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - heian shrine japanese gardens cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - heian shrine japanese gardens cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Heian Shrine to Keage Incline

You’ll backtrack a bit to get back to the canal.

And then you’ll walk along the canal to reach the start (or end?) of an unused railroad track that will basically take you up the Keage Incline.

You’ll also pass the boat launch if you want to go for a canal cherry blossom boat ride.

 

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - cherry blossom jikkokubune boat ride from nanzenji boat pier. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

The cost of this cherry blossom jikkokubune boat ride from the Nanzenji boat pier is 1,200 yen (US$11).

 

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - cherry blossom jikkokubune boat ride from nanzenji boat pier - cost how much price. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

And then just past the boat pier, you’ll come across stairs to go down to the canal. (But not towards the boat ride.)

You’ll go down these stairs to start making your way to the Keage Incline.

 

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - near lake biwa canal museum to keage incline. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto - tunnel bridge to keage incline. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

Keage Incline

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - keage incline cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

Crowds!

But again, there are tons of people for a reason!

And cherry blossoms!

From far away, it basically looks like a tunnel of cherry blossoms!

 

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - keage incline cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - keage incline cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - keage incline cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - keage incline cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - keage incline cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

Keage Incline to Philosopher’s Path

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - keage incline to philosophers path walk. (first to nanzenji temple, then maybe to eikando temple, then to ginkakuji temple.) Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

If you’re following this walking route, you’ll be walking up the railroad.

Once you get to the top, for purposes of directions on Google Maps, you can look for the “Spiral Brick Tunnel” (Nejirimanpo) and go towards Nanzenji Temple.

And then you’ll keep walking to get to the Philosopher’s Path.

For more temples to visit near the philosopher’s path, you may consider visiting Nanzenji Temple, Eikando Temple, or Ginkakuji Temple.

If you’re getting to the area in the late afternoon or early evening, you’ll want to make note of the hours and closing time of these temples so you don’t arrive too late.

 

Philosopher’s Path

And then finish off your cherry blossom day pondering about life! 😉

 

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - philosophers path walk cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

Best cherry blossom photo spots in Kyoto - philosophers path walk cherry blossom. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

HAPPY CHERRY BLOSSOM VIEWING IN KYOTO!

 

For some cherry blossom spots in Tokyo, consider a visit to a river cherry blossom promenade, shrine, or temple!

 



More quick tips for planning your trip to Japan

There are affiliate links on this page that take you to partner websites.

For more on planning your trip to Kyoto, see the 1-day, 2-day, and 5-day Kyoto itineraries. If you'll be in Kyoto in the spring, also see the 1-day cherry blossom photo walk.

Hotels in Kyoto
Search for deals on Kyoto hotels here.

For hostels across Japan, try this top backpacker's hostel chain.

Kyoto can also be a good place to stay at a Japanese-style ryokan, like this one. Or if you're on more of a budget, try this one.

Also use the map below to see more hotels in Kyoto!

Booking.com

The super fast train in Japan
In general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it.

See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.

See an example of traveling by the fast train from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Natural disasters in Japan
Unfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.

My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon.

See how much insurance costs for your trip.

Create your Japan itinerary


That's it for now!




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