Apr. 21, 2020 UPDATE
Kyoto - A Pink Wonderland of Cherry Blossom Spots
Retirees: Relaxing Cherry Blossoms for Life in Retirement
After retiring, people have a lot of time for travel! And since you might have just spend a good forty years locked up in an office cubicle, it’s time to live life to the fullest! Now that you've got some time on your hands and are (hopefully) able to get to Kyoto during the beautiful cherry blossom season, you'll most likely be wanting to enjoy all the magnificent sights and sounds of the city while also avoiding crowds as much as possible. In this article, we'll be looking at a couple of incredible places offering Zen-like atmospheres and a must-try sushi restaurant.
The Kyoto Imperial PalaceLocated close to central Kyoto, the Kyoto Imperial Palace features a magnificent, sprawling park that offers the best of spring in Kyoto. The tranquil beauty of the park's flowers and cherry blossoms are sure to put both your body and soul at ease.
The park around the Kyoto Imperial Palace has a great number of benches and tables, so we recommend taking a bite to eat and enjoying them under the cherry blossoms and blue Kyoto sky. The garden is also home to a number of places that house pieces of traditional Japanese architecture that couple magnificently with the blossoms. No matter if you just pass through or spend all day here, I'm sure you will love it either way.
Ninna-ji TempleNinna-ji Temple is known for its late-blooming cherry trees called the Omurozakura, so if you can’t make it to Kyoto between late March and early April, your best chances to see the iconic Japanese trees might be Ninna-ji Temple. If you're lucky, the trees will still be blooming even until the middle of April.
Entrance to Ninna-ji Temple is usually free (except for the temple garden), but during the cherry blossom season, there is a fee. However, the views of the cherry blossoms and majestic Five-Storied Pagoda during this season are certainly worth the price. Also, as the temple is a little off the beaten path, it likely won't be as crowded as some other places, so you'll be able to enjoy the blossoms in peace.
Kamigamo ShrineDesignated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Kamigamo Shrine offers a unique, almost magical feeling that's unique to nature. This shrine is a little far away from downtown, so we recommend taking a taxi as the bus ride is quite long.
The spacious grass fields and beautiful pink cherry blossoms of the shrine create a harmony that is hard to pass by — it feels like you could spend days just sitting and taking it all in. The shrine has the incredible ability to take all the weight off your shoulders and carry all your worries away as it gently lowers you into a river of cherry blossoms. The Kamigamo Shrine is close to the Kamo River, so we also recommend taking a stroll down the river on your way back into town.
Haradani-en GardenHaradani-en is an exceptional garden at the top of a mountain. However, as its a little hard to reach by bus, we recommend taking a taxi (from Kinkaku-ji Temple it’s around a 10-minute taxi-ride to Haradani-en). The garden is exceptionally big and there are many different types of cherry blossoms, so it's one of the best places in the city to take in all different kinds of cherry blossoms all at once.
Haradani-en Garden is where the wild meets cultivation. As well as the famous variety of Somei Yoshino cherry trees, Haradani-en Garden is also home to species of wild cherry blossoms. Almost anyone who vists this garden has good things to say about it and the beautiful plants and flowers that color its hilling grounds. If you don't mind a bit of a bus or taxi ride, then this garden is a definite must-visit.
Sushi Mizuki - The Ritz-CarltonThe Ritz-Carlton Kyoto has four Japanese restaurants, one kaiseki, one tempura, one teppanyaki and one sushi. The restaurants each have their own unique feel to them, which becomes immediately apparent when you step foot inside. The sushi restaurant, Sushi Mizuki, with its grand counter seats has a particularly magnificent, stately feel.
Possibly the most exceptional aspect of Sushi Mizuki is their use of multiple kinds of vinegar on their rice — even including Italian vinegar! Kyoto is known for mackerel sushi, however, this variety of sushi has the image of being solid and heavy as its made by packing rice into a box. However, mackerel sushi at Sushi Mizuki is carefully shaped with a cotton cloth to give it a light, delicate texture. Inside the sushi roll as well, you will find red caviar and Japanese basis, which give a whole other world of exciting flavors. The sushi even looks incredible. If you're wanting to celebrate a retirement well earned, then there's no better place than Sushi Mizuki at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto.
If you want to enjoy the beauty of Kyoto spring but avoid the crowds, then visit any of the above places. Although many of these places are quite a ways away from the central city, they are more than worth the trip. All of these spots are places we consider to be some of the best places in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto to spend a good deal of time at each, so if you're looking for somewhere to enjoy some of your hard-earned retirement, then these options are great!
Every year, Kyoto sees thousands of visitors during its cherry blossom season, but don't let that dissuade you as the immaculate beauty of this season more than makes up for any trouble with crowds. Not matter if you’re alone, with friends, family, or coming after retirement, we hope that these articles will help you enjoy the beautiful city of Kyoto to its fullest!