Kyoto in spring is a dream, so don't miss out. Use our guide to discover the best of what Kyoto in spring has to offer.
Kyoto attracts hoards of visitors all year round, but few would disagree that spring is when the city is at its best.
The season of plum and cherry blossoms, festivals and celebrations, gives Kyoto an enchanting atmosphere that you’re sure to thrive on. To help you along; we’ve put together the ultimate guide to things to do in Kyoto in spring. Read on:
Plum Blossom and Cherry Blossom Viewing
Cherry Blossom Photo Credit: mrhayata via Flickr cc
Plum and cherry blossom viewing (hanami) is an annual spectacle with its roots in the annals of time. Photographers try but are never quite able to capture the majesty and ephemerality of hanami, meaning, you’re just going to have to set eyes on it yourself.
Kyoto is probably the best city in Japan for hanami – its abundant temples, shrines, gardens and parks being the perfect hosts. From late March to late April the flowers are in bloom, giving you plenty of time to check out one (or all) of the following spots:
This shrine is dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, a famous Japanese scholar who adored plum blossoms. The plentiful trees are designed to appease his vengeful spirit and happily, make for a beautiful spectacle at the same time.
This park is the most popular spot in Kyoto for sakura hanami. The crowds are particularly attracted to a tall weeping cherry tree (shidarezakura) in the center of the park which is lovingly illuminated during sakura season.
Seryu-e Festival is usually held on March 15-17th. The main parade features a striking large blue dragon, the symbol of this temple (and the guardian of the east side of Kyoto), paraded through the temple complex accompanied by revellers in traditional clothing.
Otaimatsu Fire Ritual is held on March 15th, usually from around 8pm. The ritual is designed to replicate the scenes witnessed after the death of the Buddha. The Saga Shaka Nenbutsu Kyogen is a traditional play and one of Kyoto’s three largest religious performances held in the spring.
Hanezu Odori is a famous dance festival held in Zuishin Temple at the end of March [29-31th]. The festival takes place amidst the temple’s beautiful gardens and features traditional dance performances from children and adults alike. A great way to welcome spring.
Price: 1,000 yen
Hours: Dance from 11:00am (3-4 performances will be held between 11:00am and 04:30pm)
The Kitano Odori is an annual dance performance by maiko and geiko of the Kamishichiken district, held between March 25 and April 7th. You can enjoy the traditional dance with Matcha tea and immerse yourself in traditional Kyoto entertainment.
Price: 4,800 yen with matcha green tea (4,300 yen without tea)
The Aoi Festival is one of the three largest festivals in Kyoto. It is held in mid-May and dates back to the 6th century when Emperor Kinmei ordered a ceremonial festival to help alleviate famine. The highlight of the festival is a huge, elegant procession that departs from the Kyoto Imperial Palace and proceeds to Kamigamo Shrine via Shimogamo Shrine.
Price: 2,050 yen for a reserved seat at the Kyoto Imperial Park or Shimogamo Shrine. 3,500 yen for a reserved seat with English earphone guide (Imperial Park only)