Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto: When & Where to See Sakura This Spring

The cherry blossom season is an enchanting time to visit the beautiful city of Kyoto, Japan. From late March to early April each year, the former imperial capital of Japan turns into a vivid pink hue as thousands of cherry trees burst into bloom. Witness the beauty of cherry blossoms in Kyoto—from Maruyama Park to the Philosopher’s Path—with this complete sakura season guide!

When is cherry blossom season in Kyoto in 2024?

The Kyoto cherry blossom forecast changes from year to year. Most years, cherry blossoms (sakura) start blooming towards the end of March and continue into the first week of April, with full bloom hit its peak about 7 to 10 days after their first appearance. In 2023, Kyoto’s cherry blossoms first flowered on March 21st and hit full bloom (mankai) on March 27th. This was about a week earlier than it’s normally predicted.

Sakura in Kyoto, Japan

For the exact dates of Kyoto’s prime cherry blossom season in 2024, you can check out the official Japanese cherry blossom forecast. The forecast is usually released in late January every year.

Where to see Kyoto cherry blossoms

Maruyama Park

Any time of year, Maruyama Park is one of Kyoto’s top green spaces. In spring, though, the park’s at its finest. It’s one of the finest places in the city to catch the cherry blossoms at full force.

Hanami @ Maruyama Park in Kyoto

During sakura season, onlookers love huddling around the park’s massive centerpiece cherry tree. It’s most enchanting in the evenings when it’s flooded with light.

Maruyama Park is a particularly festive viewing spot. In the evenings, impromptu food stands pop up to serve delicious Kyoto street eats to hanami-viewing party-goers.

While you’re at Maruyama Park, be sure to also check out Yasaka Shrine. It’s located at the park’s western entrance.

Philosopher’s Walk

North of the city center, The Philosopher’s Walk promises a stunning visual treat for your sakura-viewing pleasure. If you carve out more than 24 hours in Kyoto, this 2-kilometer-long path is a must for your itinerary. Even more so when your visit is timed with cherry blossom season!

Sakura Philosopher's Walk Kyoto

The Philosopher’s Walk runs alongside a canal winding between Nanzen-ji in the south and Ginkaku-ji in the north. The walking path is lined by hundreds of cherry trees. Their interplay creates a breathtaking scene when in full bloom.

As The Philosopher’s Walk is one of the top places for hanami in Kyoto, the crowds during the daytime can get thick. Instead, plan your visit in the evening. At night, the cherry trees get lit up, and the path is at its most memorable.


Arashiyama is most famous for its bamboo forest and its gang of cheeky monkeys. Let’s add another highlight to its resume: Arashiyama is also one of the best places in Kyoto to see the cherry blossoms in full force!

Spring Cherry Blossoms in Arashiyama

There are several top-notch spots around Arashiyama to catch the blossoms. Check out Togetsukyo Bridge and the small island of Nakanoshima on the Katsura River in Arashiyama Park. A little further afoot, you can marvel at the cherry trees on the grounds of Daikaku-ji Temple.

Shirakawa Minami-dori

Travelers and locals alike label it as the “most beautiful street in Kyoto.” So, yes, Shirakawa Minami-dori begs for a look any time of year!

Cherry Blossoms on Gion Shirakawa Minami-dori

As if the canal-side street wasn’t lovely enough year-round, dozens of cherry trees adorn Shirakawa Minami-dori. A visit during sakura season is a must for your Kyoto itinerary.

During the cherry blossom season, visit Shirakawa Minami-dori after dark. In the evening, the street is at its most lively and stunning as its cherry trees are lit up from below.

Heian Shrine

With its late-blooming weeping cherry trees, Heian Shrine is a prime Kyoto cherry blossom viewing spot. It’s a great place to visit for travelers who missed the season’s peak elsewhere.

Sakura Heian Shrine Kyoto

At Heian Shrine, the cherry trees creep over the garden and the pond. It creates an engrossing scene that’s a boon for photographers and Instagrammers alike. Entrance to the shrine & garden costs ¥600.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Whatever time of year you visit, Kiyomizu-dera Temple is one of the must-see attractions in Kyoto. And during cherry blossom season, it’s even more spectacular than normal!

There’s a handful of cherry trees planted around Kiyomizu-dera, one of the must-visit temples & shrines in Kyoto. From its famous balcony, you’ll catch a glimpse of a few. But it’s near the pond at the exit that you’ll see the bulk of the temple’s sakura goodness.

Like other top cherry blossom viewing spots in Kyoto, visit Kiyomizu-dera at night to see the cherry trees punctuated with a soft glow of light. It’s an unmissable and magical scene!

Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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