Apr. 21, 2020 UPDATE
Kyoto - A Pink Wonderland of Cherry Blossom Spots
Families: Heartwarming Cherry Blossoms Spots
From babies to grandmas, everyone loves cherry blossoms! So when you come to Kyoto with small children, and maybe even grandparents, we're sure seeing these iconic trees will be at the top of your list. However, when deciding where to see them, there a few things to keep in mind; ease of access, crowds and proximity to non-smoking restaurants (yes, this is still a very real struggle in Japan). In this part, we've put together a family-centric itinerary for a stress-free day of cherry blossoms and fun in Kyoto!
Nanzen-ji TempleBoasting constant visitors during these two seasons, Nanzen-ji is most well known for its autumn leaves and cherry blossoms. The grounds of the temple are incredibly huge and the pale tinge of pink from the sea of cherry blossoms that fills the air during spring makes it feel like you're in a fairytale.
On the path to the main hall, you'll be surrounded by beautiful temples on either side of you and magnificent cherry blossoms trees. Although the temple does see its fair share of visitors, its spacious grounds means that you're still able to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and relax.
Keage InclineKeage Incline is a short stretch of decommissioned uphill train tracks that are located just down the road from Nanzen-ji Temple. Either side of the tracks is filled with beautiful cherry blossoms that make this one of the most magnificent and heartwarming places in the city. You might also catch some couples having their wedding photos taken here, which just adds to the heartwarming atmosphere.
So take your family's hands and enjoy the walk under the cherry blossoms! The pink wonderland of scattering petals and unique look of the Keage Incline makes it one of the best places to spend a sunny day with the kids in Kyoto.
Kyoto Botanical GardensThe Kyoto Botanical Gardens are home to thousands of plants, including, of course, cherry blossoms! The cherry blossoms in this humongous garden are so densely planted that it's like you're swimming through a sea of pink and white petals. The cherry blossom grove is also home to a few traditional Japanese buildings, including a shrine, so it gives off the most wonderful Japanese atmosphere that's sure to be a highlight of your trip.
Take some lunch, refreshments, and a picnic blanket and enjoy yourself a nice old picnic in the garden. However, the area around the gardens also has many wonderful shops and cafes, so after getting your fill of cherry blossoms at the park, you could always opt for checking out one of these for some relaxing afternoon tea!
Gion ShirakawaThe cherry blossoms of the Shirakawa River stretch out seemingly forever, like a tunnel of sunlight pink clouds. Coupled with the beautiful traditional machiya townhouses of the nearby Higashiyama area, even a short stroll down the Shirakawa River is enough to brighten up your day. It's hard to put into words simply how beautiful this area truly is.
The cherry blossoms are pretty during the daytime, but in the darkness of the night, they turn the river into their romantic, iconically Japanese-esque stage. We highly recommend seeing both the pale blossoms of the day and the magical illuminated blossoms of the night.
Gion CalfGion Calf is a luxury steakhouse in the Gion district with a welcoming Japanese atmosphere. The restaurant's carefully chosen seasonal ingredients provide you with a look into the forever revolving tastes of Japan.
Gion Calf is famous for its wagyu steaks, which are made of A5 Omi beef, the highest rank of one of Japan's three top varieties of beef. The meat is soft and tender, but it's really its juiciness that makes you realize why it's so renowned — as every bite feels like it's inching you closer to enlightenment.
Before dessert, you are treated to a rice-based dish, such as this rice bowl topped with delicious, creamy uni (sea urchin)! The rich flavors of the sea urchin combined with the moat of dashi stock beneath adds the perfect kick to the creaminess — we have to admit that this one was gone in seconds. Gion Calf is both smoke-free and child-friendly, so for families looking for a nice dinner with heartfelt service, it's a sure choice.
There's a lot to keep in mind when taking your family on holiday —especially all the way to Japan — so we hope that this article was able to alleviate at least some of that stress and you'll be able to have a fun cherry blossom-filled trip to Kyoto! If you’re not planning on coming with your kids and are in fact retired, then don't worry because the next part will be for you! See below for Part 4, Retirees: Relaxing Cherry Blossoms for Life in Retirement