Sakura Hunting in Kansai (Part 1)

In a country famous for its spring scenes filled with pink and white cherry blossoms, it’s hard to decide just where to go to enjoy these short-lived flowers. Your most memorable sakura experience could be anywhere from a residential street to a major tourist spot to a remote mountain side. The only thing to do is just get out there and explore!

For the sakura season, I had originally planned to stick around Tokyo like last year, mainly so that I could save money. But the closer I got to the spring holidays, the more I felt the itch to leave the city and make the most of my time off. With a week to go, I bit the bullet and booked my tickets, found accommodation and jotted down a rough plan. My destination: Kansai.

Kansai is a region of Japan that’s home to ancient cities, national treasures and the country’s oldest structures. It’s almost the polar opposite of Tokyo. After living in the modern, fast-paced capital for 3 years now, I immediately noticed the difference especially at my first stop, Kyoto. Even the most touristy of places have somehow managed to keep that traditional, ‘old Japan’ charm.

The last time I was in Kyoto was in 2012 during one of their best ever autumn foliage seasons. The streets were splashed with brilliant reds and yellows and oranges. After seeing the city at its fiery best, I knew I had to see it during the sakura season, too.

Night 1:

Higashiyama & Gion

Day 2:

Heian Jingu & Nanzen-ji

Imperial Palace

Rokkaku-do & Philosopher’s Path

Kyoto was breathtakingly beautiful, even though the sakura were not in full bloom. I loved strolling, or rather, crowd surfing, in Higayashima. I made it to Kiyomizu-dera just before dark and watched the sun disappear behind the mountains. Walking around the streets at night felt like I was on a movie set with so many girls wearing kimono. I think Kyoto is the only city where it’s completely normal for everyone to wear a kimono! The following day I rented a bicycle which was such a good idea. You don’t have to worry about bus timetables, or getting tired from walking, or limiting yourself to just one area. Highly recommended if you visit Kyoto :) As for the sakura, the Imperial Palace was by far the best spot to see them while I was there. I love the feeling of being rained on by petals when you stand under a weeping cherry tree. And the Imperial Palace was full of them! I was also lucky to get sunshine on and off all day. As we all know, pink blossoms against a blue sky is always a winner.

After a busy day of sakura hunting I bid farewell to Kyoto, and continued onto my next stop. I headed south to a place famous for their deer that freely roam the streets. Part 2 coming soon.

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26 thoughts on “Sakura Hunting in Kansai (Part 1)

  1. I’m impressed by the sheer number of places you went to during your short trip! Makes me feel very lazy in my Hanami pursuits- mostly walking along the Kamogawa in Kyoto city. Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures!

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    • I think it was because I was on a bike, so I could zip around pretty quickly. There were still many places, like the west side, which I wish I’d been able to visit. The Kamogawa must have been gorgeous. Sometimes it’s nice just to take your time in one place :)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Celia,
    Loved looking at your shots and reading how much you liked Kyoto. The places brought back many memories and I think you’ll agree there is something special about Kyoto. I didn’t visit the Imperial Palace during the Sakura season after not being overly impressed during an Autumn visit – my mistake. Looking forward to your next instalment from the deer place :), Oh and well done in capturing some of those shots – there are a few tricky ones in there…… Cheers,
    John

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    • Glad it brought back memories of your time in Kyoto! It’s definitely one of the most unique places in the world.
      I’m a little bummed I was too early for Heian-jingu’s sakura, especially since you said that was one of your fave places. But seeing that massive red torii and the shrine buildings is special no matter when you go. Yeah – there’s one main park area at the Imperial Palace that has a whole heap of sakura, and I definitely recommend it if you go again.
      Thanks, John!

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  3. 日本には 300種類以上にものぼる 桜があって、開花時期も様々なので、お花見前線に   
    そって行くと、2-3か月は 楽しめそうですね。京都の御所桜、斎王桜は しだれ桜として、
    とても有名です。それはそれは 大変な見ごたえでしたでしょう。童顔の石像は 哲学の道で 
    見つけましたか。とても愛らしい。そして、藤棚(ふじだな)のように 枝を広げた桜の木が
    見事ですね。東山や祇園の夜桜と 夕暮れの清水寺の写真が とても印象的です。 

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    • 一番有名のは4月の始めに咲くソメイヨシノですが、冬桜は1月の末に咲き始めますので、実は3か月ちょっと、桜を楽しむことが出来ます!京都はいつも通り印象的でした。行って良かったです!

      Like

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