So the first thing to know about going to Kyoto during cherry blossom season…
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!
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!
Where to go for a 1-day cherry blossom Kyoto photo walk?!
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
3. Kodaiji Temple
4. Maruyama Park
5. Heian Shrine
6. Keage Incline
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
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.
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.
To see what you get with a kimono rental, have a look at the video here. (partner website.)
Cherry blossoms + rickshaw ride
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.
Photos of some of the best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto!
- Kiyomizu-dera Temple
- Sannenzaka slope
- Kodaiji Temple
- Maruyama Park
- Heian Shrine
- Keage Incline
- Philosopher’s Path
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.
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.
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!
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”!
Sannenzaka to Kodaiji Temple
Kodaiji Zen Temple
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.
Kodaiji Temple to Maruyama Park
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.
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.
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
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.
You’ll also come across a canal near the torii gate that can provide some more cherry blossom photo spots.
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.
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.
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.
The cost of this cherry blossom jikkokubune boat ride from the Nanzenji boat pier is 1,200 yen (US$11).
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.
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!
Keage Incline to Philosopher’s Path
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.
And then finish off your cherry blossom day pondering about life! 😉
HAPPY CHERRY BLOSSOM VIEWING IN KYOTO!
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- JR pass for quick and easy long distance train travel (see price here and see here how to calculate train routes to figure out it's worth it for you)
- Pocket wifi to make travel in Japan easier (see price here)
- Travel insurance for natural disasters just in case especially for travel disruptions (see price here and see here for past natural disaster that affected foreigners)