We are safely past the Spring Equinox, folks! I guess that means that I can no longer be annoyed when people say it’s “already spring” (as some have been saying since about mid-February). While we’re still having cold nights here in Kyoto, we are getting warmer day by day, and that means things are a’blooming.
I’ve spent my free time in the past few weeks checking out flowers all over town, and I thought I would share a couple of good spots for you to check out, either now or the next time spring rolls around.
Gosho, or the Kyoto Imperial Palace grounds, is a fantastic place to get your sakura or ume hunting on. First of all, it’s free. Second of all, lots of people will be busy hanging out at Yasaka Shrine/Maruyama Koen instead, so you’ll have a bit more space to breathe. Third, it’s a large area you can stroll around to enjoy a number of different types of flora.
Umekoji Park, located conveniently right by the Kyoto Aquarium, is another lovely (and free!) option. As the name implies, there are plenty of plum blossoms to be found during the right season. The park has plenty of places to stroll/jog about, or settle in for a picnic, or play a game of catch. The Aquarium is also right there, but keep in mind that it costs a cool 2,000 yen to enter. But if you’re into freshwater critters and dolphin shows, it’s worth checking out at least once!
If you’re willing to spend a little cash for your ume needs, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine up in the northern part of Kyoto has an ume garden. It costs 700 yen to enter, which may make you hesitant. Not to worry; it’s easy to peek in before you pay to determine if anything’s in bloom. This is a fairly big tourist location, so be prepared to deal with crowds–especially on the weekend. If you can swing by on a weekday, though, you’ll have a much more pleasant time.
Honestly, though, if you’re aiming for a paid ume garden, I’d recommend somewhere like Zuishin-in Temple, located in Yamashina. The closest station is Ono Station (小野駅), and it also costs about 500 yen to enter. However, this temple is a little off the beaten track (unless you’re a fan of the Heian court poet, Ono no Komachi), so it’s less likely to be crowded.
Note: the gardens cost 500 yen. The temple itself cost extra.
Finally, if you want to stick a little closer to the main areas in Kyoto City, I’d urge you to consider Sanjusangendo Temple, located on Shichijo Street across the Kamogawa River. It’s right next to the Kyoto National Museum, so you can get all sorts of culture in after only one short walk or bus ride! The Temple itself is lovely, famous for its’ 1001 statues of the goddess of mercy, Kannon. Costing 600 yen to enter, the hall is well worth taking your time in. From end to end you’ll find rows of the statues. It’s said that every face is slightly different, so you’re bound to find one like yours among all of the statues in this temple!
But more on that in another post, maybe. The gardens here, where an old archery contest is held every year in winter, are well worth checking out, too. You’ll find a nice mix of ume, sakura, and a number of other things blooming in the Japanese garden.
Where have you been flower hunting? Found any good places recently? If so, please share them!