After 15 years since 2000, we returned to Kyoto during peak sakura season 🙂
Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御苑)
only opens for a few days each season. were there in April during the sakura blossom and witnessed an ancient football play, which is an old style court game. The courts of the emperor, queen etc could be visited from outside. The gardens are fabulous and is definitely worth a visit.
ancient football play in court
Tetsugaku-no-michi (The Philosopher’s Path) 哲学の道
though it was raining, it had been a nice walk while the sakura and other flowers were blossoming. There are some nice little shops, cafes and local tea houses along the path. highly recommended during sakura season, but can be a bit crowded. In the bottom right photo, the stream was literally filled with fallen sakura petals !
fallen petals filling stream
Maruyama Park (円山公園)
from Gion, walk towards Yasaka shrine and up further then you arrive at this park. During the sakura season, it is spectacular to have several hundred trees blossoming at the same time. Besides, in the middle, there is a huge Shidarezakura (weeping sakura) tree which is gorgeous in the day as well as being light up in the evening. Sadly, compared to when we last visited in 2000, it has shrunk. Upon return, 3 Japanese ladies in kimono were playing traditional music in Yasaka Shrine.
Heian Jingu (平安神宮)
Having visited many sakura spots in Japan, by far this is still the most impressive. In other sakura spots the Somei Yoshino (slightly pink, but almost in white) are widely planted. However, the ones in Heian Jingu are predominantly of Yaeshidare-zakura (pink overhanging). It happened that a Japanese couple was holding their wedding ceremony.