Planning to visit Kyoto in spring? I am sure you are looking for the best places to photograph cherry blossoms in Kyoto.
Kyoto, a popular destination in Japan, is known for its rich cultural heritage and historical significance. Nestled in the Kansai region, Kyoto has been the imperial capital for over a thousand years.
Spring in Kyoto is a magical time marked by the breathtaking bloom of cherry blossoms. The city transforms into a picturesque landscape as cherry trees burst into pink blossoms. This annual phenomenon, known as “sakura,” is a celebrated event that draws people worldwide.
This travel guide will help you find the most beautiful Kyoto cherry blossom spots. I will share additional tips like entrance fees, the best time to visit, and some photography tips as well. Let’s create some amazing cherry blossom photos from Kyoto together.
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Secret Kyoto cherry blossom spots
Benten Bridge and Jikkokubune Canal Cruise
Benten Bridge emerges as one of the most beautiful Kyoto cherry blossom spots. Beyond its photogenic appeal, the Jikkokubune Canal Cruise is a delightful experience that takes you on a scenic journey through Kyoto’s waterways on a traditional boat. It is a match made in heaven!
Although it might be considered a hidden gem for Westerners, the locals love this location during cherry blossom season. Also, the boats are parked in the channel until 10 am before the cruise opens, so that is the best time to capture its magic.
Once you are done with your photos, jump on the canal cruise to see the location from a different perspective and enjoy cherry blossoms from a traditional boat.
Boats depart every 20 minutes starting from 10 am but be prepared for a little queue – especially at the opening time. The ticket price for adults is 1200 yen and 600 yen for children.
No matter if you are here to take photos or enjoy the boat ride, Jikkokubune Canal promises an unforgettable cherry blossom experience in Kyoto.
For those enchanted by the iconic images of charming boats drifting along Kyoto’s picturesque channels, Keiryu Bridge on the Okazaki Canal offers the perfect opportunity to recreate these timeless scenes.
While most tourists focus on the photos from the bridge, I recommend you go to Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art and take the iconic photo from there. Cute angle and cherry blossom framing are there waiting to be captured.
The boats are frequent and from what I have seen, it comes almost at the same time from both sides, which means that you have 2 chances to take the right shot. You should visit it during the day, so you are sure that the boats are operating already.
The little path on the North side of the channel is filled with cherry blossoms and it offers some amazing opportunities for portrait photography. To my surprise, I didn’t see a lot of crowds in the area – despite its central location.
I am sure you will love this lesser-known spot for viewing Sakura in Kyoto and get some iconic postcards as the boat passes the bridge and enters the tunnel of pink flowers.
Sewaritei was one of those places that left me amazed. This amazing and extensive riverside park is situated a short train ride south of Kyoto train station.
Despite being one best places to photograph cherry blossoms in Kyoto, the place is relatively unknown among Western visitors. Locals, on the other hand simply adore Sewaritei. They come here to take photos of the blossoms or just enjoy a picnic on a sunny day.
This enchanting park consists of a 1.4 km-long tunnel of cherry blossoms, creating a magical setting that is a dream come true for photographers and couples seeking a romantic spot in Kyoto.
As the cherry trees burst into bloom, stalls adorned with local foods and drinks emerge near the Sakura tunnel. It’s an opportunity to savor some authentic Japanese snacks outdoors while basking in the delicate beauty of the blossoms.
During the spring there is a symbolic fee of 100 Yen to access the park. My recommendation is to go either at the opening time or later in the afternoon, however, since the place is wide you can relax and take some epic photos any time.
Takase River Canal
The Takase River Canal holds a rich history in Kyoto, Japan. It was constructed during the Edo period as a vital waterway for transporting goods and commodities. It gracefully winds its way through Kyoto, making a modest yet significant contribution to the city’s character.
Despite being located in central Kyoto, the Takase River Canal is not often mentioned as a hot spot to see the blossom. But I think that this has to be included among the best places to photograph Sakura in Kyoto.
This long canal is crossed by several bridges and framed by thousands of cherry trees, so you will have the chance to play with different lenses to get some beautiful photos.
Keep in mind that the canal is extremely long and you don’t need to walk all the way. My recommendation is to check these specific locations: Shin-bashi Bridge, Takoyakushi Bridge, and Minami-Daikoku Bridge.
Hirano Shrine, situated on the northern side of Kyoto, is well-known for its striking beauty, particularly during the cherry blossom season in spring.
The shrine boasts approximately 500 cherry blossom trees, encompassing 60 different varieties. These trees, planted by Emperor Kazan in the year 985, have created a lasting legacy for Kyoto.
Unlike other tourist hotspots, Hirano Shrine maintains a more laid-back atmosphere, favored by locals rather than foreign visitors, ensuring a relaxed experience throughout the day.
Come to get lost and experience the beauty of the garden. Bring your camera and photograph one of the best spots for viewing cherry blossoms in Kyoto.
There is no fee to visit the main part of the temple, while there is a donation of 500 yen to visit one side of the garden. It is encouraged but not mandatory.
Just like other popular spots in Kyoto for viewing cherry blossoms, Hirano Shrine offers illumination shows that take place every evening until 9 pm. If you are visiting Kyoto at the beginning of April, don’t miss the Okasai Festival, which is one of the longest-running events in Kyoto.
Popular places to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto
The Philosopher’s Path is probably one of the most popular spots and best places to photograph cherry blossoms in Kyoto. It consists of a 2 km path beside a canal that connects Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) with the vicinity of Nanzenji.
During spring, cherry blossoms bloom, creating a stunning pink canopy overhead. The changing seasons bring diverse colors to the landscape and this tree-lined canal path offers a peaceful escape from the busy city.
Bring your camera and make sure you walk the path from the start all the way to the end. I am sure you will find a lot of photo opportunities on your way. It offers pure magic throughout the cherry blossom alley.
It’s important to note that the Philosopher’s Path, being one of Kyoto’s prime cherry blossom spots, attracts a considerable crowd throughout the day.
If you come here during the day, you will encounter multiple artists, musicians, and a lively crowd. Early morning offers a different perspective and peaceful atmosphere, however, if you want to capture photos of the entire path, a sunrise mission is an absolute must.
The surrounding area is residential, providing a glimpse into local life. You’ll find small shops and cafes along the way, offering a chance to rest and enjoy the surroundings. And some temples as well – Hōnen-in, Ōtoyo Shrine, and Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji.
In 1987, it was selected as one of the 100 best roads in Japan, and for all the right reasons. We can safely say this is one of the most beautiful Kyoto cherry blossom spots.
Opening times and entrance fees
This is an open-air path, therefore, there are no entrance fees and it is accessible any time of the day.
Keep in mind that on Google Maps it is marked as Tetsugaku No Michi, so that is the destination that you want to set when looking for the closest route from your location to Philosopher’s Path.
Did you know? The name “Philosopher’s Path” originates from the famous Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro, who was said to have used this route for daily meditation.
Gion is one of the most picturesque districts in Kyoto and it is known for its traditional teahouses, called ochaya, where geisha and maiko entertain guests with traditional music, dance, and conversation.
But Gion is also one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto. Follow the canal that flows between the old traditional houses and let the sakura guide you.
For the ultimate cherry blossom experience in Gion, walk into Shirakawa Lane. This charming location offers a perfect spot to enjoy the allure of Kyoto, with the Yamato-bashi Bridge providing a picturesque view of the canal with blooming cherry trees.
I still remember arriving in Kyoto, jumping on a taxi to reach my hotel, and passing by Shirakawa Lane. It was a pure beauty of pink Sakura welcoming me to Kyoto. And that is a sight that I will cherish forever.
Gion is a popular attraction in Kyoto, but cherry blossom season makes it even busier. However, I have to say that is filled with geisha and tourists dressed up in kimono, which makes it even more charming. If you want to see it empty, you will need an early wake-up call.
Gion, with its timeless charm and blooming cherry blossoms, is a must-visit to snap your perfect Kyoto postcard.
Keage Incline is a hotspot for photographers during spring, so this makes it one of the busiest places in Kyoto to photograph the cherry blossom. Around 90 cherry trees border the railway track, so you can take a delightful spring stroll beneath the blooming pink flowers.
The Keage Incline starts close to Keage Station, along the Tōzai Line of the Kyoto Municipal Subway, running alongside Niōmon-dōri nearly up to Nanzenji Temple.
Beyond its aesthetic beauty, Keage Incline holds historical significance. This inclined plane was once an integral part of Kyoto’s industrial infrastructure, facilitating the transport of boats between different water levels.
Today, it is one of Kyoto’s busiest places for cherry blossom photography. The blend of natural beauty and historical resonance makes it a sought-after destination for those seeking a real Kyoto spring experience.
This picturesque street is a spectacle, framed with hundreds of cherry trees, creating a tunnel of blossoms that attracts photographers from all around the world. And I am sure you will be one of those photographers during your next trip to Kyoto.
Opening times and entrance fees
This is an open-air path, therefore, there are no entrance fees and it is accessible any time of the day. But if you want to see it empty, make sure you arrive early as it gets very busy during the day.
Did you know? With a total length of 582 meters, the Keage Incline was the longest incline railway in the world at the time it was built.
Kiyomizu-Dera Temple is not only one of the best spots for viewing Sakura in Kyoto but also one of the most beautiful temples in the whole of Japan.
Known for its iconic wooden stage extending 13 meters above the hillside, Kiyomizudera offers breathtaking views of cherry and maple trees below. It has a wonderful view over Kyoto as well, which means that this is a popular attraction in any season.
As spring arrives, the temple grounds are adorned with numerous cherry trees that burst into bloom. The contrast between the ancient wooden structures of the temple and the cherry blossoms adds an amazing touch to the scene.
For some extra magic, Kiyomizudera hosts special evening illuminations during cherry blossom season in late March and early April. Keep in mind that you will need a separate ticket for the evening show – even if you visit the temple before closing time.
To capture the temple’s beauty at its peak, consider visiting at sunset or night. While the place can get crowded throughout the day, these moments offer stunning photo opportunities with the backdrop of the sunset or the illuminated trees. If you don’t like crowds, early morning is a must.
While Kiyomizu-Dera is a popular destination throughout the year, the cherry blossoms add an extra layer of charm during spring, making it a must-visit for those seeking the most popular spot in Kyoto for viewing Sakura.
Opening times and entrance fees
Kiyomizu-Dera Temple is open every day from 6 am to 6 pm. As of now, the entrance fee is 400 yen, but it will be raised to 500 yen starting from April 2024.
Kyoto Botanical Garden
Kyoto Botanical Garden is a public botanical garden located near Kamo River, and it was the first botanical garden in Japan. It’s a peaceful escape where you can enjoy nature’s wonders.
The garden showcases a wide variety of plants, from colorful flowers to towering trees. Walking through the paths, you’ll discover the rich biodiversity that Kyoto has to offer.
During cherry blossom season, this garden becomes a sought-after destination. With approximately 200 species of cherry trees, including 140 on display, and a total of 500 cherry trees flourishing throughout, the garden transforms into a sea of blossoms.
Despite its popularity, the expansive grounds of the Botanical Garden offer a relaxing visit, sparing you the need to rush for an early entry or deal with crowds.
The garden extends its charm into the evening with illuminated displays from late March to early April. The main attraction during the nighttime illumination at Kyoto Botanical Garden is the stunning display of 130 various types of cherry trees lit up across the grounds.
The garden, with its curated collection of cherry blossom trees, offers a unique opportunity to experience the iconic Japanese tradition of hanami, or flower viewing. This makes it one of the best cherry blossom viewing spots In Kyoto.
Opening times and entrance fees
Kyoto Botanical Garden is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day and the last entry is one hour before closing time. Keep in mind that you can easily spend a half day at the Kyoto Botanical Garden, so one hour won’t be enough.
For a fee of 200 yen, you can enjoy the beauty of the oldest botanical Garden in Japan and admire the cherry blossoms in the heart of Kyoto.
More places to photograph cherry blossoms in Kyoto
Sagano Sight-Seeing Tram
The Sagano Sight-Seeing Tram offers a delightful journey through the scenic landscapes of Kyoto, Japan. This tram, winding its way through the picturesque Sagano area is a real must-visit for a unique sakura experience in Kyoto.
The railway vintage trains with wooden interiors operate on a narrow gauge railway from the 19th century. It features one fully open car and four enclosed cars with the option of opening your window.
To catch this scenic romantic train you need to head to Arashiyama on the north side of Kyoto. It departs from the Saga Torokko station starting at 9 am and ends its journey at Kameoka Torokko Station.
It consists of a pleasant 30-minute ride following the scenic beauty of the Hozukyo Ravine. Here nature is incredible and the thousands of cherries and maple trees create an experience you won’t easily forget.
You can buy single tickets or round trips at the Saga station, but keep in mind that tickets are subject to availability. If you want to make sure you get a spot on the train you can book the tickets online here.
Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, and Chionin Temple
Yasaka Shrine stands out as one of the most beautiful temples in the city and Maruyama Park is one of the best spots for viewing sakura in Kyoto.
As you step into this park during the spring, prepare for a sensory explosion of flowers, colors, and enchanting aromas. Countless cherry trees adorn the landscape, creating a perfect scene for photographers.
Alongside the natural beauty, food stalls offer all the Japanese snacks you can imagine, and specially designed areas invite you to relax for a delightful meal or picnic beneath the blooming sakura.
For me, this park stood out as a highlight of my Kyoto visit. Whether in the daylight or the evening hours, Maruyama Park offers the perfect backdrop for photos and ambiance to simply enjoy the vibes of Kyoto.
Additionally, the park connects to Chion-in Temple, another architectural gem in Kyoto that should not be missed.
Nijō Castle is one of the most visited castles in Japan. Constructed during the Edo period, this fortress reflects the architectural and cultural nuances of that era.
Built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, Nijo Castle served as a residence for successive shoguns. The architecture is a blend of simplicity and functionality, highlighting the defensive features prevalent in castles of that time.
Eventually, it was gifted to Kyoto, which made it accessible to the public.
During cherry blossom season, the castle hosts the mesmerizing exhibition “NAKED” which is one of the best places to see sakura in Kyoto. The blossoms come to life in a symphony of lights, immersing visitors in a fairytale-like experience.
Nijo Castle is open from 8.45 am to 5 pm and the last entry is at 4 pm. Note that the castle is typically closed on Tuesdays or the following day if Tuesday coincides with a national holiday.
The admission fee is 800 yen, with an additional 500 yen if you wish to explore the Ninomaru Palace. The admission fee for the NAKED varies from 2000-2400 yen and you get an early bird discount if you plan in advance.
Heian Shrine is an important cultural and religious site in Kyoto that attracts visitors from around the world. This is another place to add to your Kyoto cherry blossom viewing list.
It holds historical significance as it was constructed in 1895 to mark the 1,100th anniversary of Kyoto serving as the capital. The shrine’s architecture is a representation of the Heian period (794-1185) style, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of that era.
Adorned in vibrant vermilion, the shrine’s main buildings are surrounded by picturesque gardens and ponds. A huge torii gate, reaching over 24 meters, and the ornate Daigoku-den showcase the shrine’s architectural beauty.
Make sure you visit one of the gardens surrounding Heian Shrine because that is where you will find one of the best places to photograph Sakura in Kyoto.
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the beauty of Heian Shrine illuminated during the night instrumental concert, held in early April from 6.15 pm to 9 pm.
Toji is one true gem of Kyoto you don’t want to miss! It was one of the first Buddhist temples in the city and nowadays is one of the best places to photograph Sakura in Kyoto.
The main attraction is the tall wooden pagoda, but there is so much more to see! The water pond, the Lecture Hall, and the Golden Hall are all inside the complex and all are fantastic spots to appreciate the ancient Japanese architecture surrounded by the trees.
There are only a few tour groups around, and most of the time they just make a quick stop at the Toji, which means that you can take photos any time of the day.
It is open from 8 am to 5 pm and the entrance fee is 500 JPY.
Other things to know about beautiful Kyoto cherry blossom spots
What month is the cherry blossom in Kyoto?
The best time to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto is April. Depending on the weather you might be able to see the beginning of the blooming in late March. In Kyoto, the peak of the blossoms is usually in the first two weeks of April.
Where can I see cherry blossoms without crowds?
It’s quite hard to see the cherry blossoms without crowds in Kyoto, but some remote locations are not so popular among tourists. An early wake-up call always helps as well.
How crowded is Kyoto during cherry blossom season?
I am not going to lie, Kyoto during the cherry blossom season is insanely crowded. Even if you wake up for the sunrise, you will see a lot of people around hunting for the best photos. Sleeping in is not an option if you are a photographer and you want to avoid crowds.
Is Osaka or Kyoto better for cherry blossoms?
Osaka and Kyoto are very different cities. I think that Kyoto is the most beautiful place in the whole of Japan to take photos of the cherry blossoms, however, the area around the Osaka Castle is incredible during the spring.
Where to stay in Kyoto for the Sakura season?
It is important to find the right accommodation for your trip and there are a lot of options in Kyoto, so how to choose where to stay in Kyoto?
If you are looking for a home away from home, make sure you check Mimaru Hotels. They have multiple properties available around Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo and they are one of the top-rated hotels in Japan.
Mimaru offers modern accommodations with a Japanese touch in the most strategic locations of the city, so it is suitable for any kind of traveler. It also stands out in terms of hospitality and amenities.
The accommodations at Mimaru are real flats providing all the amenities and comfort for short and long stays. It is a great hotel for families or bigger groups as well since most of the hotels offer connected rooms.
Conveniently located a few steps away from the castle and the Sanjo shopping arcade, MIMARU Kyoto Nijo Castle is a perfect place to sightseeing and see an authentic side of Kyoto.
This was our choice when visiting Kyoto and you can read the detailed hotel review here.
This is the most ideal location to explore other cities like Nara and Osaka, but also Kyoto itself, since there is a bus station just outside the hotel.
MIMARU Kyoto Station provides some unique accommodations like a room with a city view, where you can see the Shinkansen departing and arriving in the town. It also boasts a Pokemon room.
Conveniently located between the Nijo Castle and the Nishiki Market, this hotel lies in a very authentic yet comfortable area in Kyoto.
This makes it perfect to have a relaxed stay in Kyoto, without giving up a strategic location.
MIMARU SUITES Kyoto Central is located between Kyoto Castle and Nishiki Market, with easy access to all the Kyoto heritage. This makes it perfect for visitors who have 3 days in Kyoto or less.
The Three-Bedroom Japanese Suite is a wonderful example of Japanese design and style and can accommodate up to 6 people.
MIMARU Kyoto Nishinotoin Takatsuj stands between the Nijo Castle and the Kyoto Station, in a lively area full of restaurants and bars.
Despite not being in the heart of the city, the Kyoto Heritage is easily accessible. All the main attractions in the city are well connected to the hotel.
MIMARU SUITES KYOTO SHIJO lies between the Nishiki Market and the Kyoto station, and it’s served by a subway line and several bus lines.
That makes it perfect for sightseeing and exploring the Kansai region since the station is very close.
Further reading for best places to photograph cherry blossoms in Kyoto
Travel tips for Kyoto:
- How to Rent a Kimono in Kyoto: Detailed Process with Prices
- Complete Kyoto Itinerary: How to Spend 3 Days in Kyoto
- Best Kyoto Tours: Unique Experiences in Kyoto That You Don’t Want to Miss
- 18 Best Free Things to Do in Kyoto + Kyoto Budget Tips
- 13 Best Ryokan in Kyoto with Private Onsen That Will Blow Your Mind
- Where to stay in Kyoto? Hotel Review of Mimaru Kyoto Nijo Castle
Travel tips for Osaka:
- 15 Best Photo Spots in Osaka That You Can’t Miss
- 12 Best Ryokans in Osaka with a Private Onsen
- Osaka Itinerary: How to Spend 3 Days in Osaka
- 10 Best Food Tours in Osaka for Foodies
- How to Plan a Day Trip to Himeji: Travel Tips and Things to Know Before Visiting
Travel tips for Tokyo:
- 13 Best Tokyo Tours: Fun and Unique Experiences in Tokyo
- 13 Incredible Hotels With Tokyo Tower View In Tokyo
- 15 Epic Hotels with a Mount Fuji View in Japan
Other useful tips for visiting Japan
🏠 Need a place to stay? Browse Booking or Agoda
💃 How about fun experiences? GetYourGuide, Viator, and Klook have it all
🚗 Considering renting a car in Japan? Use Rentalcars
🚂 If you need transfers, bus or train tickets, check 12Go
🔒 Don’t forget about travel insurance from HeyMondo
This is the end of the best places to photograph cherry blossoms in Kyoto and I am sure that you are impatient to discover this beautiful city during spring.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.