10 Best Things to Do in Kyoto in Spring

keage incline sakura Kyoto
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Writer’s profile

Stefanie Akkerman moved from the Netherlands to Japan in 2013 with her Japanese husband and son. She jumped into the niche of Dutch tour guiding in Tokyo and Kamakura in 2015 and occasionally writes articles about all the great sights and activities Japan has to offer. She loves (Japanese) food, and to work that all off she goes diving, snorkeling, cycling, or hiking.

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Spring is one of the most popular times to travel to Japan, and Kyoto enjoys one of its most photogenic seasons at this time, with many kinds of flowers blooming all over Japan’s former capital. If you are lucky enough to be able to visit Kyoto during this lovely season, this article is for you: here we’ll share with you the 10 best things to do in Kyoto in spring!

1. Cherry Blossoms at Keage Incline

The Keage Incline looks magical in spring

Of course, one of the main reasons that visitors from Japan and abroad flock to Kyoto in spring is to see the pink cherry blossoms perfectly contouring some of Kyoto’s most famous sights. But one of the best spots to view the flowers might be a bit unexpected, as it is a disused railway track at the eastern edge of the city. The Keage Incline is an impressive sight because you can walk through a long tunnel of pink when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. If you also want to learn more about the area’s history as a transportation district, you can stop by the nearby Biwakososui Museum.

Nearest station: Keage Station

Recommended article: 10 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto

2. Spring Festival at Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle sakura
The castle grounds are stunning during the bloom of 300 cherry trees

While Nijo Castle is always a magnificent sight, the grounds of the former residence of the Tokugawa shoguns become even more breathtaking when the cherry trees are in bloom. During this time, the Nijo Castle Cherry Blossom Festival is held from late March to mid-April. Around 300 cherry trees will be in bloom, and to literally put them in a new light, the trees and castle become the backdrop of a spectacular illumination show between 6pm and 10pm. There are projection mapping shows and interactive digital art works to enjoy, so the festival is fun for visitors of all ages.

Nearest station: Nijojo-mae Station

3. Togetsu-kyo Bridge

Togetsu Bridge
Don’t miss a visit to this popular photo spot in spring

The most famous spot in Arashiyama is its other-worldly bamboo forest, but there is more to discover in Kyoto’s western neighborhood. The Togetsu-kyo Bridge is a historic wooden footbridge over the Katsura River that has become a popular photo spot. During the cherry blossom season, this beautiful bridge becomes extra photogenic with the sweeping views of pink-colored mountainsides all around.

Nearest station: Arashiyama Station

4. Kinkaku-ji

Kinkakuji iris
Kinkaku-ji also looks spectacular when iris surrounding the pond start blooming in May

One of Kyoto’s most stunning sights is Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, so it is no wonder that you often see this shiny temple featured on postcards and travel brochures about Japan. The garden surrounding this golden temple also boasts its share of cherry trees, so if you come here during the sakura season and find the right angle, you can take an impressive shot of Kinkaku-ji surrounded by pink flowers. If you’d also like to learn more about the history and other interesting stories about historical buildings like Kinkaku-ji while you are hunting down the most Instagrammable spots, why not do a private tour of Kyoto with a local guide?

Nearest station: Kinkakujimichi (bus)

5. Sagano Romantic Train

Sagano 1
Enjoy this unique train ride through a gorge

There are many scenic train rides to enjoy in Japan, and one of the very best is the famous 25-minute journey on the Sagano Romantic Train from Sagano Torokko Station to Kameoka Torokko Station. The cherry blossoms are especially concentrated around the Hozukyo Ravine, and at one point you even ride through a tunnel created by flowers. The old-fashioned train features large windows that can be opened when the weather is good, so you can fully immerse yourself in the beauty of spring during this scenic trip.

Nearest station: Saga-Arashiyama Station

6. Yasaka Koshindo

kukurizaru Yasaka Koshindo
Add your own kukurizaru to the display and pray for your wish to come true!

Just a few minutes from one of Kyoto’s most famous temples, the Kiyomizu-dera, you can find what is easily Kyoto’s most colorful temple, Yasaka Koshindo. Pictures of the display of eye-catching fabric balls known as ‘kukurizaru’ will be a great contrast to all the beautiful cherry blossom photos in your album. Kukurizaru symbolize a monkey with its feet and hands bound to represent self-control, and if you want to, you can contribute to the colorful display by hanging up a kukurizaru yourself. Don’t forget to do like the locals and put a little note with your wish inside – maybe the temple’s deity, Koshin, will fulfill your request!

Nearest station: Kiyomizumichi (bus)

7. Wagashi

sakuramochi spring food in japan
Many cherry blossom-inspired sweets are available in spring

One of the best things about Japanese food culture are the many seasonal treats that only make an appearance once per year during their designated season. Wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets that are almost too pretty to eat, embody the spirit of Japanese seasonal confectionery perfectly. During the spring, many wagashi will incorporate cherry blossom-related flavors and designs. Sakuramochi, a cherry blossom-flavored pink rice cake wrapped in a pickled cherry leaf, is one of the seasonal wagashi you should definitely give a try. Kagizen Yoshifusa is a great store to buy traditional wagashi sweets at in Kyoto.

8. Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower
Nothing beats a bird’s eye view of the city from Kyoto’s tallest structure

Of course, admiring an aerial view of Kyoto is good year-round, but during the sakura season, seeing Kyoto from up high is even better. If the weather is clear, you can see all the way to Osaka, but even in the case of rain, you can still see beautiful swathes of pink throughout Kyoto from Kyoto Tower. This is a photo-op that only pops up once a year, so don’t miss out on this conveniently located opportunity near Kyoto Station!

Nearest station: Kyoto Station

9. Kiyomizu-dera

kiyomizu temple sakura

One of the most impressive temples in Kyoto is Kiyomizu-dera, a temple that has been around more more than 1300 years. The architecture of the buildings and gates is impressive, and the temple’s most famous feature is its wooden stage from which you have sweeping views towards downtown Kyoto and the surrounding mountains. During cherry blossom season, this view is interspersed with pink trees, making it even more magnificent. While you are in the area, don’t miss out on the nearby Higashiyama neighborhood with its charming winding streets and many artisans’ shops.

Nearest station: Kiyomizumichi (bus)

10. Toei Uzumasa Eigamura

Toei Kyoto Studio Park
Walk around the setting for many Japanese period dramas

Not necessarily a seasonal attraction, but always a good destination to add to your Kyoto itinerary any time of the year, is the Toei Uzumasa Eigamura (Toei Kyoto Studio Park). Especially if you start feeling a little ‘templed out’, seeing the place where many Japanese period dramas have been filmed while walking around in Edo period costumes, is great fun. Walk in and out of the traditional wooden buildings that are replicas of old Edo-style homes, and enjoy various performances held around the theme part throughout the day.

Nearest station: Uzumasa Station

Spring is one of the best times to come to Kyoto if you want the chance to take incredibly beautiful pictures, although each season comes with its own charms. In autumn, you can enjoy the city’s impressive highlights with colorful foliage in the background, summer brings festivals and other traditional events, and during winter, gorgeous illuminations pop up all around the region.

Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Kyoto

When you are visiting Kyoto and you need some help organizing your trip, you came to the right place. We’re happy to help you make your trip to Kyoto the best trip ever. We can advise you on where to go or even better, show you around with a local, English speaking guide. Let us help you create safe, comfortable, and unforgettable memories in Kyoto!

Kyoto Private Full-Day Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.

Total Kyoto Experience
If you only have a day or two in Kyoto, we offer a full-day tour of the city, enabling you to immerse yourself in and fully enjoy the entire city of Kyoto in just 10 hours!

Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street
If you’re looking to learn more about the culture and the local cuisine of Kyoto, this is the perfect tour for you! Take part in this Kyoto food and drink tour and explore the 400-year-old market and the famous surrounding areas.

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