Visiting the Thousand Yoshino Cherry Trees and Cherry Trees in Nara / Kyoto

Nara Park Area, Yoshino Area

Kyoto and Nara, which are known for their historic temples, are some of the most famous places in Japan for viewing cherry blossoms. Visiting the temples, shrines, and historic sites in Kyoto and walking through World Heritage sites and sacred sites at Mt. Yoshino-yama makes your trip in spring a visit to the best spots to view cherry blossoms in Japan.

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Day 1 - Yoshino, Nara

[Traveling]
Osaka -- <Osaka Loop Line16 mins>. -- Tennoji -- <by walk6mins.> -- Osaka-Abenobashi -- <Kintetsu Yoshino Line75mins.> -- Yoshino -- Senbonguchi -- <Ropeway3mins.> -- [Mt.Yoshino-yama] -- <by walk> -- [The Thousand Cherry Trees] -- [Yoshino Chogu Ruins] -- [Kinpusen-ji Temple] -- [Tonan-in Temple] -- [Yoshimizu-jinja Shrine] -- [Waterfall Cherry Trees] -- Yoshino -- <Kintetsu Kashihara Line120 mins.> -- Kintetu Nara -- <by walk> -- [Nara Park] -- [Todai-ji Temple] -- [Kasuga Taisha Shrine] -- [Kofuku-ji Temple] -- Kintetsu Nara -- <Kintetsu Limited Express35 mins.> -- Kyoto

*The times required with public transportation are approximate.

Mt. Yoshino-yama

While having been known for ages for its flowers, it is particularly famous for its cherry blossoms. Dotted with temples and shrines such as Kimpusen-ji Temple, the sacred sites and pilgrimage routes from Mt. Yoshino-yama and Mt. Koya-san to Kumano were designated as a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site named the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” in 2004.

The Thousand Cherry Trees

The scenery with roughly thirty thousand mountain cherry trees, which is the greatest in the world in scale, has been called “a thousand in one glance” and “thousand cherry trees” for ages, as this gorgeous view lets you see a thousand cherry trees in a single glance.

Ropeway (Sembonguchi Station to Yoshinoyama Station)

Japan’s oldest ropeway in existence. Enjoy a fulfilling experience watching beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom from the retro interior.

Yoshino Chogu Ruins

The location where the Imperial Palace was set up when Emperor Go-Daigo, the ninety-sixth Emperor of Japan, escaped to Mt. Yoshino-yama from attacks by Takauji Ashikaga (the first Shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate).

Kinpusen-ji Temple

The symbol of Mt. Yoshino-yama as well as the grand head temple of Japan’s own Buddhist “Shugendo” sect of mountain worship. The cypress bark-roofed Zao-do stands at thirty-four meters in height and is the second largest wooden structure next to the Great Buddha Hall in Todai-ji Temple. Three Zao Gongen statues are enshrined here.

Tonan-in Temple

A temple with a 1,300-year history established by the founder of the sect of Shugendo Buddhism – En no Gyoja. Here stands a stone tablet inscribed with haiku composed by the seventeenth-century haiku poet Basho Matsuo, who has written many literary masterpieces. The inscribed haiku was composed during his time here.

Yoshimizu-jinja Shrine

A shrine that is a registered World Heritage site. It is home to many historic tales such as it being where Minamoto no Yoshitsune fled with his retainer Benkei to from his paternal half-brother Minamoto no Yoritomo, who established the Kamakura Shogunate, where Emperor Go-Daigo established his temporary palace, and where the famous warlord Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who unified Japan, held a flower-viewing party.

Waterfall Cherry Trees

They are called “waterfall cherry trees” as they resemble a waterfall on the surface of the top of the hills beyond. Here, you can enjoy the grand pink colors that make you feel as if you are looking at a huge waterfall.

Kakinoha-sushi

A representative local specialty of Yoshino. It is a pressed sushi with bite-sized vinegared rice balls topped with ingredients such as mackerel, salmon, and small sea bream, and wrapped with persimmon leaf. Please be sure to try it if you visit Yoshino.

Nara Park

Like Mt. Yoshino-yama, it is one of the top hundred cherry blossom-viewing sites in Japan. This land, which was the capital of Japan and the center of culture and religion a thousand and three hundred years ago, still retains its historic temples and shrines such as Todai-ji Temple, Kofuku-ji Temple, and Kasuga Taisha Shrine. It is a unique history park that is in harmony with abundant nature and lets you come in contact with deer.

Todai-ji Temple

Established by Emperor Shomu, who had promoted using all national strength in the establishing of a government centering on Buddhism during the Nara period (eighth century). The temple has widely revived faith from ancient to modern times, having a great impact on Japanese culture. There are many things to see here such as the “Great Buddha Hall”, which is the largest wooden structure in the world, and the “Nandaimon Gate”, which is the largest temple gate in Japan. The view seen from the Nigatsu-do Hall is truly a sight to see.

Kasuga Taisha Shrine

Characterized by its brilliant vermilion-lacquered shrine pavilion, it appears as if it were floating among the richly green line of cedar trees. It is registered in UNESCO’s list of “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara”.

Kofuku-ji Temple

A representative grand temple of Nara. Be sure not to miss the sights such as the famous Eastern Golden Hall, the National Treasure Museum which lets you see national treasures such as the Asura statue all at once, and the five-story pagoda, which is the symbol of Nara.

Day 2 - Kyoto

[Traveling]
Kyoto -- <Subway Karasuma Line 5 mins.> -- Karasuma Oike -- <Subway Tozai Line7 mins.> -- Keage -- <by walk> -- [Nanzen-ji Temple] -- [Incline] -- [Heian-jingu Shrine] -- [Konkaikomyo-ji Temple] -- [Shinnyo-do Temple] -- [Philosopher’s Walk] -- Kinrin-shakomae -- <bus40mins.> -- kiyomizu-michi -- [Kiyomizu-dera Temple] -- <by walk20mins.> -- [Maruyama-koen Park] -- <by walk15mins.> -- [Gion Shirakawa] -- <by walk 5mins.> -- Gion Shijyo -- <Keihan Main Line45 mins.> -- Kyobashi -- <Osaka Loop Line 7 mins.> -- Osaka

Nanzen-ji Temple

In addition to the roughly two hundred cherry trees here, visitors can see the Sanmon Gate, which is one of the Three Greatest Gates in Kyoto as well as the Hojo, which is a national treasure. From the Sanmon Gate, visitors can see the streets of Kyoto through the cherry blossoms that bloom on the temple grounds.

Incline

Located in Kyoto along the Lake Biwa Canal, it was built as a railway that connects the inclined waterways. Although it is not in service anymore, there still remains on the road along the tracks a row of beautiful cherry trees.

Heian-jingu Shrine

The drooping “Yaebenishidare cherry trees” here are famous. With their pink eightfold flowers, they have a suppleness that cannot be found in any other cherry blossoms.

Konkaikomyo-ji Temple

One of the head temples of the Jodo-shu school that boasts social status as high as that of the Chion-in Temple. It stands on a steep range of hills overlooking the Kyoto cityscape. Visitors can relax and enjoy the cherry blossoms all throughout the spacious grounds.

Shinnyo-do Temple

Dozens of cherry blossoms such as the Somei Yoshino and Yae bloom quietly on the tranquil grounds. There is also a rare species called the Tatekawa cherry blossom next to the main hall.

Philosopher’s Walk

It was named so because the favorite disciples of the Kyoto philosopher Kitaro Nishida such as Hajime Tanabe and Kiyoshi Miki enjoyed taking walks along this path. Both banks of the Lake Biwa Canal are famous cherry blossom-viewing spots as there are many cherry blossom trees planted here. Located here are also many charming little cafes.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

One of the few temples in Kyoto that date back to before the relocation of the capital to Heian-kyo (ancient Kyoto). The view from the stage of the main hall is magnificent. The cherry blossoms in spring further enhance the beauty of the scenery.

Maruyama-koen Park

A famous cherry blossom-viewing spot known for its “Gion drooping cherry tree”. It gives off a different form of beauty at night during the cherry blossom-viewing season when it is lit up.

Gion Shirakawa River

With stone-paved roads that lead up to tradesmen’s houses, this is the best spot to enjoy the atmosphere of Kyoto. Cherry trees such as the Somei Yoshino are lined up along the flow of the Shirakawa River, where there are establishments on the riverside such as Japanese-style restaurants. These cherry blossoms are also beautiful when lit up at night.