Hi, guys. We’re finally getting into weather where I don’t have to bundle up under piles of winter clothes. And while the plum blossoms are still mostly thinking about blooming (but haven’t quite yet), it’s been too lovely out to sit around waiting on a single type of flower.
I’ve talked before about the Kyoto Botanical Garden. Located just outside Kitayama Station on the Kyoto Karasuma Subway, the gardens cost a ‘whopping” 200 yen to enter. They’re a great place to spend an afternoon in almost any season. There’s a playground for kids, a plum blossom grove, a rose garden, a European-style garden area–you name it, they have it. But today I want to talk about a specific feature: the conservatory.
When you enter the main gates of the botanical gardens, walk straight. You’ll see the kids’ play area on your left, and if you press on a little further, the conservatory will come into view. This is a building that is even larger than it initially appears. Some things to keep in mind when you go in:
- It closes earlier than the gardens themselves. Last entry is at 3:30 p.m., so keep an eye on time.
- It costs an extra 200 yen, making your visit to the gardens a total of 400 yen.
You can purchase a combined ticket at the front gates for 400 yen, but there are additional ticket machines outside the conservatory if you paid for regular admission. Once inside, you’ll feel a significant difference in temperature, especially if it’s chilly outside. The air changes from room to room; heavy and humid to arid, you’ll wind your way through Jurassic Park-esque rooms and into other areas filled with cacti. There are a couple of benches here and there to rest, but not many. As you walk, you’ll spot schoolkids or retired folks crouched here and there, sketching whatever plant has caught their eye.
And… there are a lot of eye-catching plants in here.
One thing to keep in mind: if you’re not a plant expert (as I am not), figuring out what you’re looking at can be a challenge. There are signs in English and Japanese listing each plant, but the English uses the Latin name for each species, not the common name. Let’s say for example you’re looking at a morning glory. Rather than “morning glory”, you’ll see 朝顔/Convolvulaceae (the family of a number of species that use the layman’s name).
That said, you’ll find all sorts of plants within that will inspire any number of emotions. While meandering through the winding path in the conservatory, I went from exclaiming over a plant’s beautiful flowers to cringing and going, “What is that?!”
I’d thought I would spend twenty or thirty minutes inside, but I ended up taking a full hour walking at a regular pace. I was very satisfied with what I saw, and if you haven’t been inside, I encourage you to check it (and the rest of the botanical gardens) out if you have the chance!
How are you enjoying the spring weather? Or is it still cold in your area?