Mar. 23, 2018 UPDATE

Spring in full bloom! Let’s go to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine’s Baikasai plum blossom festival!

Once a year, the garden of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine turns to pink and white with plum blossoms, and tells of the coming spring in Kyoto. We also had some wagashi-sweets and oyakodon for lunch too!
Vanessa[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]

Once a year, the plum trees of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine are in full bloom! This shrine is the most famous spot in Kyoto for plum blossoms. When you combine them with some great local delicacies, the plum trees really do make for a perfect spring day in Kyoto! So come with us to see the beautiful blossoms of spring! 


The most popular time to visit Kyoto has to be the plum and cherry blossom season! The sight of the plum blossoms forming a formidable sea of pink and white blossoms at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is something you have to see for yourself. 


After buying our entrance tickets, it’s time to head to the garden without delay! But please keep this ticket with you, as you can later exchange it to some tea and a traditional Japanese cracker. 

 

The weather was good; the sky was bright blue, and the plum blossoms plentiful. I felt very satisfied here, surrounded by the beautiful plum blossoms, and I forgot all about my mundane worries. 

 

Plum blossoms are mostly in three colors, white, pink, and light fuchsia. I really like the pink of plum blossoms, as the color is not too bright, but it has a simplicity to it which makes it pleasing to me. 

 

If you look carefully at the plum trees, you’ll notice that there are see-through Christmas-ball like decorations on them. Inside these decorations there are candles, which are lit up at night, making the garden feel very romantic. 

 

The plum garden of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was even bigger than I had thought, and I couldn’t keep count of how many pictures I took here. If you, like me, like taking selfies, this is the place for you! But be careful of other people when using a selfie stick! 

 

After having walked through the garden, we headed for the main hall of the shrine. Besides Japanese tourists, there were also many tourists from overseas. 

 

It’s hard to resist the beauty of these plum blossoms! And as Kitano Tenmangu Shrine worships the god of learning, Sugawara no Michizane, I also had to pray here: I hope I’ll pass my Kyoto Examination this year! 

 

Are you tired from all the walking? You can exchange your ticket for a cup of tea and a cracker! You get a plum cracker and some plum tea, both by a famous long-established Kyoto shop; this is a tea break at its best! 

 

The cracker we are was actually made by the long-established wagashi shop Oimatsu, and as I’m very much into wagashi, we decided to go to one of its shops which happened to be close by! I love the atmosphere in Kyoto’s alleys. 

 

You can see the long years of history behind this shop just from how it looks. It may look very simple and chic, but once inside you get to see colorful showcases full of wagashi. 

 

Wagashi are made in accordance with the seasons. This time they have many wagashi-sweets that use plum or plum jam in them. So I had to buy their seasonal sweets! When you see something as nice and traditional as this, it’s easy to buy too much! 

 

On the bottom-right corner, you can see the plum sweets, which got a nice salty-sweetness from the plums and had a very nice texture. Behind them you can see some traditional Kyoto-wagashi; the taste of historic Kyoto in wagashi-form! 

 

After buying our snacks, we headed for the very popular chicken restaurant Toriiwarou. For lunch, they only offer only one dish: oyakodon, which contains chicken and egg, simmered together. Their oyakodon is however so good that there is often a line of people in front of the restaurant, all waiting to get in. We got to it before its opening time, but there were already people lining up! So popular! 

 

We got seats on the second floor. They also have a Japanese garden, it was so beautiful! The tatami mats of this room were so very Japanese. 

 

After a short wait, we get our oyakodon! After taking off the lid, I was hit with the appetizing smell of dashi, chicken, and egg, and I couldn’t wait to put my chopsticks into it. 

 

The chicken juicy and the egg soft, and when you mix the raw egg yolk into the rice, the dish is in a completely new level of deliciousness. The sauce just adds to the flavor, making the taste a bit sweet; just as expected from a famous restaurant such as Toriiwarou! And over half of the people at the restaurant were tourists from Taiwan, so you can see how famous this restaurant is there! 

 

When leaving the restaurant behind, we were not only feeling full but also very satisfied. You can get oyakodan at many restaurants in Japan, but here the taste, the ratio of rice and other ingredients, and the raw egg, all make this a very special, unforgettable experience. I’m certainly going to take all my friends here to try the oyakodon!

 

Plum blossoms in their elegant beauty are a harbinger of spring. The weather gets warmer and warmer, and people start feeling the refreshing spring winds in the air. If you have time, I recommend also going to see the plum blossoms at night. 

A comment from the staff
Vanessa
Walking in the plum garden, I felt as if I had stepped into a world made solely of plum blossoms. It was not the first time for me to see plum blossoms in Japan, but it still felt as magical as ever. I had heard from many of my Taiwanese friends that the restaurant Toriiwarou was good, but I still didn’t expect it to be this good! If you don’t want to line up for long, I recommend going there before the opening time.
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