Kyoto Tourist: Heian Jingu (Cherry Blossoms!)

Winter decided to rear its ugly face again during my last week in Japan (a very rude awakening for B who had flown in from summer-like Al Ain!).  Our final day however, was perfect!  Very spring-like - sunny, warm with flowers everywhere!  Our flight wasn't until late in the evening, so we had a whole day to be tourists one last time.  We left our big bags at the hotel, stored smaller ones in a station locker and set off to Kyoto to see the blossoms.

A quick check of the hanami report online told us that a lot of the trees were just about finished flowering, but that one of our favorite spots was perfect - Heian Jingu.  The shrine is pretty any time of the year, but in springtime its many cherry trees turn into huge poofs of cotton candy in all shades of pink.  At full bloom it is absolutely breathtaking!

You'll know you're getting close to Heian Jingu when you see the enormous orange torii gate which for whatever reason I didn't seem to take a photo of on this particular visit.  Believe me, you can't miss it.  Start by crossing the canal which is lined with the prettiest cherry trees.

Walk under that huge torii and you'll see a little park on your left.  I highly recommend getting off the main road and strolling through the park.  Here's why...

It's crawling with pink!!  In winter it's just a grey park, but I highly recommend it in spring!

Now that that's out of the way, you can head into the shrine.  It's quite big and very orange!  Walk through the main gate first.

Then you'll make your way across the vast grounds (which are very hot and very reflective in summer.)  Can you see the poofs of pink peeking over the top of the buildings?  It's very exciting, isn't it?

Time to buy your tickets and go inside!

The path is well marked, but just go for a wander.  A fun game to play anywhere touristy in Japan is to stop and take a photo of something completely random - a leaf, sign post, trash can - anything will do.  I promise you several people will gather around to take the same picture.  If it's worth while for one person it must be a good picture! (It's even more fun when you can understand what they are saying when they mention what a silly picture that is…of course they think "she's a foreigner, she can't understand Japanese!")

Getting there: Take a taxi from Sanjo-Keihan station.  If you do this, the taxi will likely drop you off directly in front of the entrance to the shrine, so you miss that lovely little park leading up to it.  SO, if the weather is nice, I recommend staying on the Tozai subway line to the stop after Sanjo called Higashiyama.  Heian Jinguu is just a short walk from the station.  It saves you cab fare as well ;)

Tickets are ¥600 for adults and ¥300 for children.  The website has info about the opening times, special events and access maps.

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