For a few weeks every spring, Japan is blanketed in pink as cherry blossoms bloom, beginning in the far north of Hokkaido and forming a ‘sakura (cherry blossom) front’ that sweeps down the archipelago to its southernmost tip. In its wake, a nationwide fervour for the short-lived flower takes place in prime hanami (sakura-viewing) spots across the country, with Kyoto coming in top thanks to its wealth of ancient temples.

To make the most of the city at this time of year (and navigate the influx of tourists), Sara Aiko, founder of bespoke travel agency Curated Kyoto, recommends the best spots for blossom viewing, as well as where to stay and eat while you’re there.

Where to See Cherry Blossom


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Haradani-en Garden

Best time: End of March to mid-April

This privately-owned garden hidden in northern Kyoto is a place the locals like to keep a secret. The garden is located on a hill behind Kinkaku-ji temple and features over 400 cherry trees of 20 different kinds spread over 13,000 square-metres. Amongst the hundreds of trees are flowering rhododendron and azalea. It isn’t easily accessible, and has a higher entrance fee compared to other gardens, but it’s worth it.

36 Ōkitayama-haradani-inui-chō, Kita-ku, Kyoto 603-8487, Japan


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Taizo-in Temple

Best time: End of March to mid-April

A standalone weeping cherry tree planted 50 years ago is the star-of-the-show here. In full bloom, the tendrils of the tree appear to stretch down to the ground, creating a dramatic effect. Taizo-in Temple offers special lunches and dinners during the cherry blossom season where guests can dine on shojin ryōri (vegan temple food) while viewing the blossoms. Reserve a spot via the temple’s website

35 Myoshinji-cho, Hanazono, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8035, Japan

Photo: Gavin Yeung

Photo: Gavin Yeung

Ninna-ji Temple

Best time: First three weeks of April

The Omuro cherry blossom trees at Ninna-ji temple are not only shorter in height, but they also bloom at a later date than other types, in mid-April. Since they only grow up to two metres in height, you can view the flowers at almost eye level, walking through the temple grounds feeling as if you’re floating amongst pink-tinged clouds.

33 Omuroouchi, Ukyō-ku, Kyoto 616-8092, Japan

Photo: Mitsuru Wakabayashi

Photo: Mitsuru Wakabayashi


Best time: End of March to beginning of April

If you’re looking to make a journey out of the city, the bountiful cherry blossoms at Sewari-teiin in southwest Kyoto won’t disappoint thanks to its 1.4km-long sakura tree-lined path. Having a picnic beneath the flowers is one of the best ways to enjoy the season, but do arrive early to secure a good spot, as Sewari-tei is a local favourite.

Yawata, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

Where To Stay

Kanra Hotel

A short walk from Kyoto Station, boutique hotel Kanra features spacious Japanese-style rooms kitted out with modern comforts. After a day of exploring, nothing beats a bath in one of the hinoki cypress bathtubs. Another highlight is the breakfast menu (tempura, anyone?) to fuel your busy day ahead.

190 Kitamachi Karasuma-dori, Rokujo-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan 600-8176;


Photo: Courtesy of HANARé

Photo: Courtesy of HANARé

HANARé is a collection of five traditional machiya houses that have been painstakingly restored by architects and artisans following a traditional Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic. Located in some of the city’s loveliest neighbourhoods, each house can be rented privately, making them ideal for large groups or families.

Various locations;

Four Seasons Hotel, Kyoto

The enchanting Four Seasons Hotel in Kyoto feels like a retreat in the middle of the city. Particularly indulgent is the Akari golden glow facial at the spa or afternoon tea overlooking the historic 800-year-old Ikeniwa garden. The helpful concierge team are on hand to assist with your cherry blossom adventures.

445-3 Myohoin Maekawacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto 605-0932, Japan;

Where to Eat and Drink

Malda Café

Photo: Kingy Hsu

Photo: Kingy Hsu

Nearby sakura sites: The Imperial Palace, Kamo River, Nijo Castle

This charming café was designed and is run by interior designer and architect Nobuyuki Fujimoto, whose hand is made evident in the beautiful colour palette and quirky wooden furniture.

Malda’s organic offerings are brimming with flavour, from their seasonal muffins to their herbal teas. The pretty tableware, and other design objects, can be purchased across the street at their sister store, Babaghuri.

684 Marukizaimokuchō, Nakagyō-ku, Kyōto 604-8106, Japan;


Photo: Courtesy of Yugen

Photo: Courtesy of Yugen

Nearby sakura sites: Bukkoji temple, Kamo River, Miyagawa-cho

Kyoto was the first place in Japan where matcha green tea was cultivated, a tradition that has made the city famous for its matcha-related produce. But a modern matcha café was pretty much non-existent in Kyoto until Yugen opened its doors last summer. While paying respect to Japanese tradition by serving the highest quality green tea, owner Tadayuki Sudo lets customers choose the strength and sweetness. 

266-2 Daikokuchō, Shimogyō-ku, Kyōto 600-8043, Japan;

AWOMB Kokoromi

Nearby sakura sites: Bukkoji, The Imperial Palace, Higashi Honganji Temple

For those who have an appetite for sweet treats and wabi-sabi spaces, restaurateur Hiroshi Ujita have dedicated the fourth location of their popular AWOMB restaurants purely to sweets. In the spirit of DIY, customers are served with ingredients such as kiwifruit, white bean paste, and Kanten jelly that are beautifully presented on a glass plate, which can be mixed and matched according to your mood and refined with sides such as crepe and ice cream. AWOMB Kokoromi also serves a special plate where customers can combine chicken and Kyoto-style vegetables with mixed grain rice.

189 Ubayanagichō, Nakagyō-ku, Kyōto 604-8213, Japan;

Tea and Saké Room Tasuki

Photo: Courtesy of Tea and Saké Room Tasuki

Photo: Courtesy of Tea and Saké Room Tasuki

Nearby sakura sites: Shirakawa Street, Gion, Kodaiji temple, Kamo River

Located on a street lined with cherry blossom trees, Tea and Saké Room Tasuki is housed in a 120-year-old wood-clad building. The café serves a range of Japanese teas and is popular amongst locals for the photogenic kakigori (shaved ice) treat. For cherry blossom season, they create a spring edition kakigori which at first glance looks like fluffy candy floss. 

77-6 Sueyoshichō, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto 605-0085, Japan;