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When & Where to Enjoy Kyoto Cherry Blossom Festivals and Events in 2023

When & Where to Enjoy Kyoto Cherry Blossom Festivals and Events in 2023

Last updated: 1 March 2023

Kyoto is a must-visit area in Japan, and spring is the perfect time to visit. The city is home to gorgeous temples like Kiyomizu-dera and stunning landscapes, but don't miss the many cherry blossom festivals and events in spring!

Catch the magical events at Kiyomizu-dera and Kodai-ji Temple, and the cool projection mapping at Nijo Castle. Use our guide to plan your cherry blossom adventure this year.

(*Please note that event details may change, so check official websites and take precautions to avoid crowded areas and prevent infection.)

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Kiyomizu-dera Special Night Light-up
  2. 2. Kōdai-ji Spring Special Night Light-up
  3. 3. Chion-in Spring Light-up 2023 (special night-time light-up)
  4. 4. Tō-ji Spring Special Opening
  5. 5. Nijō Castle: Nijō Castle Cherry Blossom Festival 2023
  6. 6. Kyoto Botanical Gardens Cherry Blossom Light-up
  7. 7. Hirano Shrine Cherry Blossom Festival
  8. 8. Heian Shrine Benishidare Concert

1. Kiyomizu-dera Special Night Light-up

About 1,000 cherry trees float beautifully during the light-up at the main hall (photo by Jin Kashima)
About 1,000 cherry trees float beautifully during the light-up at the main hall (photo by Jin Kashima)

Including Yoshino and Yamazakura varieties of cherry trees, over 1,000 cherry trees bloom at the renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kiyomizu-dera.

Though most of the temple is colored pink, the “Stage of Kiyomizu”, a veranda at the main hall, has numerous cherry trees spreading out below it for a breathtakingly beautiful sight, and you can enjoy the feeling of floating in an ocean of cherry blossoms from the stage.

There are three special night viewings in spring, summer, and autumn, when the enshrined deity, the Goddess of Mercy Kannon is lit up with the streets of Kyoto like a fairytale. The lit-up cherry trees at night have an otherworldly feel completely different from daytime.

Enjoy the spring scenery of sturdy structures juxtaposed with fragile cherry blossoms from various spots (photo by Jin Kashima)
Enjoy the spring scenery of sturdy structures juxtaposed with fragile cherry blossoms from various spots (photo by Jin Kashima)

Location & Access
・Within the grounds of Kiyomizu-dra
・From JR Kyoto station or Keihan Railway Gion-Shijo station, take a bus to Gojozaka and alight, and walk for ten minutes

Event day & time
・Saturday, March 25 to Sunday, April 2, 2023
・6:00 - 9:00 p.m. (registration closed)

Event information
・Light-up of cherry trees
・Viewing fee: 400 yen for adults

Best time to see cherry blossoms
・End of March to the beginning of April

Health & safety measures
Facilities and equipment are disinfected, sterilized, and cleaned / Sanitizer is available / Facilities are ventilated / Coin trays used / Partitions are installed / Staff wear masks, wash hands, disinfect, gargle, and take temperatures / Visitors who are not feeling well are declined / Visitors are asked to wear masks and disinfect their hands with alcohol / Cough etiquette is requested

2. Kōdai-ji Spring Special Night Light-up

The Hōjō Garden and Shidare cherry blossoms of Kōdai-ji are stunning both in the day and at night
The Hōjō Garden and Shidare cherry blossoms of Kōdai-ji are stunning both in the day and at night

During the cherry blossom season, the grounds of Kōdai-ji in the Higashiyama district, including the remains of the former Buddhist hall in Kōdai-ji Teien gardens, will be completely lit-up (last entry at 9:30 p.m., closed at 10:00 p.m.).

The Hōjō Garden and Hashintei Garden is filled with the light pink colors of the large Shidare cherry tree that is over 70 years old, and together with the lines in the white sand, is a famous and popular spot for photos.

The special spring night-time light-up takes place in Hashintei Garden, and with the theme of “Kameha Asobu Bandai Mirai”, which invokes the longevity of a turtle welcoming countless springs in the future, exciting installations in line with the theme are set up.

Besides this, in the east end of Kōdai-ji Teien gardens, you can see reflections of rhododendrons and green maples leaves in the calm water of the Garyōchi pond, for a mystic atmosphere. During this time, a special exhibition of up-and-coming female artists is also being held in the temple museum.

The water surface of the Garyōchi is lit up, and like a mirror it reflects the fresh young leaves of spring like a fantasy
The water surface of the Garyōchi is lit up, and like a mirror it reflects the fresh young leaves of spring like a fantasy

Location & Access
・Grounds of Kōdai-ji
・Take a bus from JR Kyoto station, alight at Higashiyama Yasui and walk for seven minutes

Event day & time
・Friday, March 17 - Sunday, May 7, 2023
・5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (Last entry at 9:30 p.m.)

Event information
・Cherry blossom light-up, “Women’s Next Generation” artist exhibition
・Entry fee: 600 yen for adults (includes entry into Kodaiji Sho Museum) 

Best time to see cherry blossoms
・End of March to early April

Health & safety measures
Facilities and equipment are disinfected, sterilized, and cleaned / Sanitizer installed / Ventilation measures implemented / Coin trays used / Partitions installed / Staff wear masks, wash hands, disinfect, gargle, and take temperatures / Admission restrictions / Visitors who are not feeling well are declined / Visitors are asked to wear masks, sanitize their hands with alcohol, and take temperatures. / Cough etiquette requested

  • Kodai-ji Temple
    • Address 526, Kodai-ji Shimokawaracho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-0825
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Gionshijo Station (Keihan Line)
      10 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 075-561-9966

3. Chion-in Spring Light-up 2023 (special night-time light-up)

The Yuzen-en garden was renovated in 1954 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Miyazaki Yuzen
The Yuzen-en garden was renovated in 1954 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Miyazaki Yuzen

Chion-in, with its gigantic 24-meter tall Sanmon Gate, is a designated national treasure of Japan. From Kachōzan, a mountain that sits between the Higashiyama and Yamashina wards, to Higashi-ōjidōri, you can see a large swath of cherry trees lined up, and enjoy the cherry trees in the area around the Sanmon gate, including at the Yuzen-en garden and the mausoleum.

Every spring, a spring light-up is held. Yuzen-en, a garden dedicated to the Yuzen-sen, a dyeing technique for kimono created by Miyazaki Yuzen, who was born in Kyoto, one of the largest two-story gates in Japan, the Sanmon gate, and the Mikagedō, which finished renovations in April 2020, as well as one of the designated cultural properties of Japan, the Hōjō Garden (one area), will be lit up.

Location & Access
・Chion-in, Yuzen-en, Sanmon, Mikagedō, Hōjō Garden (one part)
・Eight-minute walk from Subway Higashiyama station

Event day & time
・Friday, March 25 - Sunday, April 2, 2023
・5:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Last entry at 9:00 p.m.)

Event information
・Cherry blossom light-up, etc.
・Chion-in Spring Light-up 2023 entry fee: 800 yen for adults, 400 yen for elementary and middle school children

Best time to see cherry blossoms
・End of March to mid-April

Health & safety measures
Facilities and equipment are disinfected, sterilized, and cleaned / Sanitizer installed / Ventilation measures implemented / Coin trays used / Partitions installed / Staff wear masks, wash hands, disinfect, gargle, and take temperatures / Admission restrictions / Visitors who are not feeling well are declined / Visitors are asked to wear masks, sanitize their hands with alcohol, and take temperatures. / Cough etiquette requested

4. Tō-ji Spring Special Opening

With a height of thirteen meters and branches spreading ten meters across, the huge Fujizakura cherry tree creates a brilliant scene with the pagoda
With a height of thirteen meters and branches spreading ten meters across, the huge Fujizakura cherry tree creates a brilliant scene with the pagoda

Tō-ji, a UNESCO world heritage site. Within the grounds are around 200 Yoshino and Kawazu cherry trees, and it prides itself as one of the more famous cherry blossom sites in Kyoto, and amongst these is a Yaebenishidare cherry tree called “Fuji-zakura”, which is exceptionally beautiful.

The combination of the 54.8-meter tall five-story pagoda constructed from wood, the tallest in Japan, together with the sight of the flowers, gives a feeling that is very much like Kyoto.

During the cherry blossom season in spring, there is a night cherry blossom light-up, and besides special night visits to the prayer halls, during the day, the first floor of the pagoda will be open to the public, so do make use of the chance to see exclusive scenery and special openings.

Location & Access
・Grounds of Tō-ji
・Ten-minute walk from Kintetsu Tōji station

Event day & time
・Night cherry blossom light up – Saturday, March 18, 2023 - Sunday, April 16, 2023 (*Varies by event)
・6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (last entry at 9:00 p.m.)

Event information
・Night cherry blossom light-up, special opening of prayer halls at night, opening of first floor of five-story pagoda, museum exhibition: Tō-ji in the Heian period, etc.
・Entry fee: Adults 1,000 yen, Junior high school students and younger 500 yen

Best time to see cherry blossoms
・Mid-March to mid-April

Health & safety measures
Facilities and equipment are disinfected, sterilized, and cleaned / Sanitizer installed / Ventilation measures implemented / Coin trays used / Partitions installed / Staff wear masks, wash hands, disinfect, gargle, and take temperatures / Admission restrictions / Visitors who are not feeling well are declined / Visitors are asked to wear masks, sanitize their hands with alcohol, and take temperatures. / Cough etiquette requested

  • To-ji Temple
    • Address 1, Kujocho, Minami-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 601-8473
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Toji Station (Kintetsu-kyoto Line)
      10 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 075-691-3325

5. Nijō Castle: Nijō Castle Cherry Blossom Festival 2023

Projection mapping on the Karamon gate, an important cultural property
Projection mapping on the Karamon gate, an important cultural property

At Nijō Castle, one of Kyoto’s world heritage sites, there are 300 trees of 50 varieties of cherry blossoms, from early to late bloomers, starting from Kanhizakura, followed by Yoshino, Yamazakura, and Shidarezakura, amongst many kinds of cherry blossoms.

One draw of Nijō Castle is the Nijō Castle Cherry Blossom Festival, which has different events taking place, from night projection mapping of the important cultural property, the Karamon gate, where you can feel the rich history of the space, to the light-up of the cherry blossoms, inviting you to a fantasy world.

Projection mapping is also done on the castle walls
Projection mapping is also done on the castle walls

Location & Access
・Nijō Castle Information Desk
・Right next to Subway Nijojo-mae station

Event day & time
・Friday, March 17 - Saturday, April 15, 2023
・8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., light-up from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (last entry 60 minutes before closing time)

Event information
・Cherry blossom light-up, projection mapping, quiz rally, exhibition of famous Kyoto products
・Admission: General admission 1,300 yen (including entrance fee to Ninomaru Palace) for daytime, 1,600 yen for nighttime, 2,000 yen for general admission on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Best time to see cherry blossoms
・Late-March to mid-April

Health & safety measures
Facilities and equipment are disinfected, sterilized, and cleaned / Sanitizer installed / Ventilation measures implemented / Coin trays used / Partitions installed / Staff wear masks, wash hands, disinfect, gargle, and take temperatures / Admission restrictions / Visitors who are not feeling well are declined / Visitors are asked to wear masks, sanitize their hands with alcohol, and take temperatures. / Requesting visitors to wear masks and disinfect their hands with alcohol and take their temperature Recommendation to register for the Kyoto City Covid Anshin Tracking Service / Limitation on the number of people in the venue when the lights are on, date designation for advance tickets

6. Kyoto Botanical Gardens Cherry Blossom Light-up

The Yoshino cherry trees which bloom at the end of March make for a stunning grove of cherries
The Yoshino cherry trees which bloom at the end of March make for a stunning grove of cherries

With over 12,000 species of flora and fauna, is Kyoto Botanical Gardens. In spring, from the Kanhizakura cherry trees in early March to the Kikuzakura cherries at the end of April, for over a month you can treat yourself to the sight of 500 cherry trees of 170 different varieties, and there’s no questioning the incredible sight of the gigantic Ōshidare-zakura tree in the lawn.

The cherry blossoms are usually lit up during the best time of the year (Saturday, March 25 through Sunday, April 9, 2023). Also, from Monday, April 10 to Sunday, May 7, the park will be open during extended spring hours, allowing visitors to enjoy cherry blossom viewing at a more leisurely pace than usual.

Location & Access
・Kyoto Botanical Gardens, cherry tree grove, etc.
・Right next to Subway Kitayama station

Event day & time
・From Saturday, March 25 to Sunday, May 7, 2023, the park will be open for extended hours.
・9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (park closed at 9:00 p.m.)

Event information
・Extension of opening hours, Satozakura cherry tree exhibition, tuberous begonia exhibition
・Entry fee: 200 yen

Best time to see cherry blossoms
・Early March to late April

Health & safety measures
Facilities and equipment are disinfected, sterilized, and cleaned / Sanitizer installed / Ventilation measures implemented / Coin trays used / Partitions installed / Staff wear masks, wash hands, disinfect, gargle, and take temperatures / Admission restrictions / Visitors who are not feeling well are declined / Visitors are asked to wear masks, sanitize their hands with alcohol, and take temperatures. / Cough etiquette requested

7. Hirano Shrine Cherry Blossom Festival

The formal-looking shrine hall is a match for the cherry trees dotted with gentle flowers
The formal-looking shrine hall is a match for the cherry trees dotted with gentle flowers

Having welcomed worshippers for over 1,200 years is Hirano Shrine, which has been known as the shrine for cherry trees since olden times, and currently, there are 400 trees of 60 varieties on the shrine grounds.

Starting from Sakigakezakura, other varieties include Kochō, Ichō, Nezame, Gyoikō, and the Kinugasa, which was bred at Hirano Shrine, and with so many varieties, one special point of the shrine is that you can enjoy the flowers over a long period of time.

Every year during the cherry blossom season, a Cherry Blossom Festival will be held with a religious parade featuring elaborate period costumes.

During the light-up, the glow of paper lanterns and lamps lights up the cherry trees
During the light-up, the glow of paper lanterns and lamps lights up the cherry trees

Location & Access
・Within Hirano Shrine
・Seven-minute walk from Keifuku Electric Railroad Kitanohakubaicho station

Event day & time
・Light-up: Friday, March 24 - Sunday, April 16, 2023, from sunset to around 9:00 p.m.

Event information
・Cherry blossom light-up, etc.
・Free entry

Best time to see cherry blossoms
・Mid-March to late April

Health & safety measures
Facilities and equipment are disinfected, sterilized, and cleaned / Sanitizer installed / Ventilation measures implemented / Coin trays used / Partitions installed / Staff wear masks, wash hands, disinfect, gargle, and take temperatures / Admission restrictions / Visitors who are not feeling well are declined / Visitors are asked to wear masks, sanitize their hands with alcohol, and take temperatures. / Cough etiquette requested

8. Heian Shrine Benishidare Concert

To see the dream-like cherry blossom light-up in the shrine garden, please wait to enjoy them next year
To see the dream-like cherry blossom light-up in the shrine garden, please wait to enjoy them next year

With the pond as its center, you can take a stroll around Chisenkaiyūshiki-Teien, admiring the tiny island in the pond, bridges, and famous rocks carefully arranged to recreate famous sceneries, in the shrine garden of Heian Shrine.

The beauty of the Benishidare cherry blossoms in spring is lauded by the famous Japanese writer Tanizaki Junichiro in his story, “Sasameyuki”, and it is famously known as the number one spot for cherry blossoms in Kyoto to enjoy the flowers.

The South Shrine Garden and East Shrine Garden have Benishidare cherry trees lit-up (Wednesday, April 5 to Sunday, April 9 in 2023), and the Benishidare Concert is held in the guest hall in the East Shrine gardens.

Location & Access
・Heain Shrine Shrine Gardens
・Ten-minute walk from Subway Higashiyama station

Event period
・Wednesday, April 5, 2023~Sunday, April 9, 2023

Event information
・Cherry blossom light-up, concert, etc.
・Ticket price: 3,500 yen (based on past prices)

Best time to see cherry blossoms
・Early to mid-April

Health & safety measures
Facilities and equipment are disinfected, sterilized, and cleaned / Sanitizer installed / Ventilation measures implemented / Coin trays used / Partitions installed / Staff wear masks, wash hands, disinfect, gargle, and take temperatures / Admission restrictions / Visitors who are not feeling well are declined / Visitors are asked to wear masks, sanitize their hands with alcohol, and take temperatures. / Cough etiquette requested

Kyoto offers a plethora of cherry blossom events in famous locations to appreciate the beauty of spring. Why not indulge in Kyoto's magnificent cherry blossom world this year?

*All of the prices in this article include tax.
*This article was originally reported and photographed in March 2021 and updated in February 2023.
*The flowering period of the cherry blossoms and event dates, times, and contents are subject to change.

Text by: Efeel

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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