Dec. 11, 2018 UPDATE
Story & Recommendation
Okazaki Canal in Kyoto by Heian Shrine is one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan!
Okazaki Canal is a part of Lake Biwa Canal, the canal that to this day brings water to Kyoto from Lake Biwa. The most famous part of this canal is, of course, the aqueduct at Nanzen-ji Temple, but the most beautiful one during the cherry blossom season has to be Okazaki Canal. When you get to see the vermillion bridge over the canal and the beautiful cherry blossoms, you will also get to see the huge torii gate of Heian Shrine. As a little factoid, there is actually a small door on the side of the torii from where it is possible to climb to the top, but it is for maintenance only. Read more about the boat ride here: http://sharing-kyoto.com/event_Okazaki-Jikkokubune-Boat-Ride/
The cherry blossoms
There is a path by the canal that you can walk and enjoy the great view of the cherry blossoms. There are many people but the canal shouldn’t be as crowded as the Philosopher’s Walk or Keage Incline. The best time to enjoy the cherry blossoms is usually in the beginning of April, but be sure to check the cherry blossom forecast you go!
Ride the Jikkokubune
What better way is there to experience the Okazaki Canal than on a beautiful Japanese boat? These boats offer an incredible view of the cherry trees, and the boat ride is especially spectacular at night when the cherry blossoms are illuminated. These traditional Jikkokubune boats also look great on pictures so I recommend waiting a bit, maybe 5-10 minutes, and you should be able to see one.