Jun. 06, 2018 UPDATE

Half day plum blossom itinerary around Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

A plum blossom appreciating trip to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine with Vanessa as your guide, with some excellent restaurants on the way!
Kitano Tenmangu

In spring before the cherry blossoms, it’s time to first admire the plum blossoms. And Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is especially famous for its plum blossoms. Their plum blossom festival, Baikasai, is held on the 25th of February every year. So start your morning by having a relaxing long breakfast, then go see a temple somewhere, and then head to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in the afternoon to see the plum blossoms! So come with Vanessa, and take a look at what these beautiful harbingers of spring look like in Kyoto!


1:00 p.m. Lunch at Toyouke Chaya! 

The tofu of Kyoto is world-famous! Toyouke Chaya is a restaurant specializing in tofu, and they offer all kinds of tofu dishes, so before the plum blossoms, let’s have some lunch here! 


They use seasonal ingredients to make their tofu dishes. Among these dishes, the most famous is this rice bowl topped with yuba, also known as tofu skin. The very simple tofu dishes have a very strong taste of soybeans to them and have an excellent, delicate texture. 


Toyouke Chaya

Nijo Castle & Kitano Tenmangu / Central Kyoto Area
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2:00 p.m. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

After eating lunch, it’s time to head to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. Every year, many tourists come to see the plum blossoms here. The stalls on both sides of the path make the feeling at the shrine even more festive. 


This shrine enshrines the god of learning, Sugawara no Michizane, so many students visit it all through the year. You can also see many statues of cows on the shrine premises, and it’s said that if you pet the head of one, you’ll get wiser. 

 

Once you step into the temple grounds, you’ll get to see beautiful red, pink, and white plum blossoms all around you. There are over 2,000 plum trees at the shrine! The colors and shapes of the blossoms are all very beautiful. The plum blossoms usually start blooming in the first half of February and are in full bloom in March. 


Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Nijo Castle & Kitano Tenmangu / Central Kyoto Area
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3:30 p.m. Sweets at Kitano Tenmangu: Awamochi

You have probably already heard of Kyoto’s traditional sweets, and around Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, awamochi is one of the most famous sweets you can have. The history of awamochi begun in the Muromachi period, so the taste of this sweet is very traditional. Why not try one? 


You can have two types of awamochi here: you can either have them topped with fragrant roasted soybean flour, or you can have them covered with red bean paste. Having awamochi with matcha tea makes for a perfect Japanese afternoon tea moment!

 

The shop has a traditional feel to it, and you can see the experienced Japanese sweets artisans painstakingly making each and every sweet by hand. It’s really moving to watch them do it the traditional way, and I hope this tradition will pass on to the next generations too. 


Awamochi-dokoro Sawaya

Nijo Castle & Kitano Tenmangu / Central Kyoto Area
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16:30 Buy some cake! Japanese-Portuguese castella at Castella do Paulo

The taste of the castella they offer here is strong, and you can also eat Portuguese cakes too. 


The castella they sell here is very moist and has a nice texture, and it's the most popular item you can get at this cake shop.  


These egg tarts are also something of note, the thick, strong taste of egg yolks is something I can’t get enough of. Although these sweets are not very Japanese, eating them at this historic shrine is an experience in itself. Taking some back to your hotel and having them with night tea is also a nice idea! 


Castella do Paulo

Nijo Castle & Kitano Tenmangu / Central Kyoto Area
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After having admired the plum blossoms, you must be feeling satisfied, right? Although you can use both the Randen tram and buses to get to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, they both get very crowded during the plum blossom season. But still, getting to see the beautiful plum blossoms is worth it all! Before the cherry blossoms, it’s time to see some plum blossoms!

Vanessa[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ] STAFF DETAIL
Plum blossoms in Kyoto tell about the coming spring! The fortitude of plum blossoms is something I truly respect; they bloom even in the coldness of February! I was also taken back by how good the food near Kitano Tenmangu is! But what I remember the best of my adventures near Kitano Tenmangu is the great castella cake you can buy at Castella do Paulo! Don’t say that winter in Kyoto is boring, since at least when it starts to turn into spring, things start getting interesting!
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All Things To Do Temples & Shrines Scenery All Restaurants Cafes Tofu All Shops Sweets Nijo Castle & Kitano Tenmangu
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