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If you are in for an adventure paired with lengthy, quirky, brutal honest thoughts then you are in the right place.

My name is Arisa and was a cosplayer for 12 years in Malaysia before settling down in Kyoto, Japan. Exploring Japan full time has been a long time dream of mine, so let's explore it together!
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Top Favourite Sakura Spots in Kyoto (crowd free) | GUIDEBOOK 1

The post everyone has been waiting for and finally it’s time to spill the beans because sakura season is just around the corner. I know right now many of you have concerns over the recent COVID-19 outbreak and contemplating whether to go ahead with your sakura travel plans or not, honestly non of us online are in any position to advise you as we are not doctors or working in relevant fields but all you need to know is that practicing proper self-hygiene routine is utmost important during this period. So if you do plan to still come to Japan, remember to wash up (your hands) as frequently as possible, wipe down any areas before touching and avoid crowded areas if possible!

Most places would have announced their hanami (flower viewing + picnic) cancellation for this year but the area is usually still open to public unlike theme park attractions or museums because those are enclosed spaces with tons of people sandwiched together.

I’ve made it my very own personal mission to explore different parts of Kyoto every spring to scout for new hanami spots that isn’t full with tourists so you won’t see me recommending spots like “Philosopher’s path” and so forth because those are overrated and you’ll see more human heads than sakura to be frank.

I know I should keep it as my own little secret to preserve its current peaceful state but I believe in offering new location options, as this would help disperse the crowd and also allow people to explore other parts of Kyoto that they didn’t know about through this "GUIDEBOOK" series. Do enjoy the 1st chapter which i had sacrified my sleep to type this out, so i do apologize for any weird grammar mistakes lol.

FYI: There are over 200 kinds of sakura species all over Japan and they all bloom during different periods, some early, some late and it also depends on the area. For colder regions, their sakura season is usually mid-April to May (sometimes even June!).

Also here is a previous entry I did last year on how to plan your trip ahead especially if you are chasing after these delicate unpredictable flowers: Click here

1. Yodosui (淀水路)

Part of Fushimi ward, considered on the border and takes about 30-40 mins away from the city (Kyoto station). We discovered this local spot by accident and it’s actually along KEIHAN line so it’s easy to access this area with only 1 train exchange. The species in this area is called Kawazuzakura which is an early blooming species, almost at the same period of Ume (plum blossom) season. So during end of February to mid march you’ll be able to catch these rose pink sakura in its full glory!

It’s a perfect option for those who choose to travel earlier because of cheap flight & accommodation, minus the insane crowd from the main forecast period which is usually end of March- Early April.

I must say this is one of the best drain views I’ve ever seen in my entire life lol, yes you read right. It’s a drain, a large man-made drain (at least it’s not smelly lol) and not a river but along it are beautiful kawazuzakura that stretches at least 1km far.

There’s even a small playground space for kids and some seats for you to rest while have a short lunch break with a view to die for. Not sure if it’s just me, I feel so at peace just looking at these cotton candy looking trees; so fluffy in the wind that I just want to hug it lol. Who else feels me?

Things to take note here:

There are no public toilets except at the nearest train station (Yodo station), so make sure to go/ change diapers before you exit the station or in case of diaper emergencies, make sure you have those portable changing mats with you and a small plastic bag to bring back your soiled diapers because there is no trash bin in sight as well (because Japan lol).

No restaurants, konbini (convenience stores) or vending machine nearby except at the train station which they have a FRESCO which you can buy cheap bento packs (there’s a microwave there too) like less than 350yen! As said before, no bins at the sakura area so bring back your own trash.

I wouldn’t exactly call it a stroller friendly area because there are some stairs and pathways are pretty narrow so having a baby carrier would come in handy.

Getting here:

From Kyoto station to Yodo station
Total cost: 420yen
  • Take the Kintetsu Kyoto line from Kyoto station (it’s opposite the shinkansen entrance), ride for 3 stops and exchange at Kintetsu-Tambabashi Station.
  • From Tambabashi Station take Semi-Express Yodoyabashi train to Yodo station (3 stops)
  • From Yodo station to Yodosui, it’s about 950meter straight walk, you can see banners being hung all over leading the way so just follow that.
  • Driving takes about 30 mins+ as well but I honestly wouldn’t recommend it because I didn’t see any public parking spots near Yodosui, only near Yodo station so you’ll still need to walk that 950 meters lol.
  • If you are using KEIHAN’s Arukumachi KYOTOreru Kippu (one day pass) that’s valid to 31st March 2020, Yodo station is covered under this pass.

2. Jikkokubune (伏見十石舟)

You’ll probably remember this spot from one of my Instagram posts last year, wanted to go for the boat ride* but because this spot is slightly popular among the locals so you’ll have to buy the tickets in the morning (via available time slots) and there’s limited spots per ride so it’s pretty much a gamble but watching from a far is also good enough for me.

*boat ride operates only during spring depending on weather

Another accidental spot we discovered while walking around Fushimi ward. I remember when we took a random stair that led under the river’s bridge last feb (2019) but there was nothing except barren trees that greeted us so we asked the gardener nearby and to our surprise he told us the entire stretch is filled with sakura trees during April!

From that day onwards we made it a point to visit every now and then to track its blooming progress and I have to say it was WORTH IT. The whole riverbank (both left & right) was filled with sakura petals and when the boat passes through it looks as if it’s floating on sakura petals instead of water. And be prepared for every gust of wind! More petals will come showering down creating a mini blizzard called “sakura fubuki” (blizzard with sakura, not snow haha). 

It’s pretty much a quiet area sandwich in between houses, and there are some connecting bridges which you can get some nice shots of the whole stretch.
There are also benches along this area to sit and enjoy the view or have a meal but not exactly a place where you can throw out a picnic mat.

Things to take note:

It’s considered within a commercial area so you can still find restaurants and kobini all within walking distance, but if you follow the entire river’s stretch you might end up deeper into the local housing area.

There is no public toilet in sight too, so make sure to go before heading down here.

Also it’s near the sake district so once you are done here, you can enjoy a little sake town tour and bring home a bottle of Fushimi’s pure water as a souvenir. It’s naturally sweet and it’s what they used to make the sake here, some stores offer sake tasting sessions too. Make sure to stop by Gekkeikan Ōkura Sake Museum to learn more about Fushimi’s sake!

Getting here:

You can take the train too but you’ll still need to walk quite a distance before reaching and It also costs double compared to taking the bus which drops you off nearer to your destination

From Kyoto station to Kyobashi bus stop
Total cost: 230 yen
  • From Kyoto station, walk over to Kyoto Eki Hachijoguchi Avanti mae bus stop, ride on bus 81 (heading to Yoko Oji Shako mae) for 27 minutes until it reaches Kyobashi bus stop. Get off there and walk 5 mins (450 meters) to Jikkokubune.

3. Sewaritei (国営淀川河川公園 背割堤桜堤)

I’ve share about this place before and even dedicated a full blog post, so if you have not read it, do head over HERE 

It might be the furthest (takes 50 mins) among all the locations suggested here but this trip out of Kyoto city is worth it because you’ll also get to visit the place where Thomas Edison (yes, the guy who invented electricity) got his bamboo materials from, none other than Yawata city, Kyoto!

Sewaritei is parked between Yodogawa & Kizugawa river and its sakura trail stretches about 1.4km (with 250+ trees), from a distance it looks as if a bunch of pink clouds has descended next to the river lol. The sakura trees here are huge! It’s also super stroller & wheelchair friendly as the pathways are flat and to go up & down the picnic spots (near the grass area), there are access ramps. Definitely don’t mind coming back here every year for hanami because it’s so peaceful, a nice change of scenery from the usual city view.

Things to take note:

It’s quite in a middle of nowhere, so best to prepare your meals and drinks before coming here the most you can get are drinks from a vending machine inside the observation deck opposite the park.

Unlike there other 2 spots, there are public toilets available but at the entrance of the park so do go before you head too far in to turn back (or else you’ll be sprinting 1.4km back to use the toilet) XD

This a popular spot among locals so best to go on a weekday to avoid potential crowds and I also personally wouldn’t join their hanami celebration because that is DEFINITELY going to be crowded because it’s a public event. We went on a non-event weekday and we had the place all to ourselves lol and one thing is for sure, barely any tourist in sight.

Getting here:

From Kyoto station to Iwashimizu-Hachimangu Station
Total cost: 480 yen
  • · Take the Kintetsu Kyoto Line from Kyoto station, ride 3 stops and get off at Kintetsu-Tambabashi Station
  • · From Tambabashi Station take Semi-Express Yodoyabashi train to Iwashimizu-Hachimangu Station (4 stops)
  • · From Iwashimizu-Hachimangu Station, walk 1.7km (about 20 mins) to Sewaritei.
Also if you are using KEIHAN’s Kyoto-Osaka (1 or 2 days sightseeing pass from 800-1200yen), it’s valid for KEIHAN main line (starts from Demachiyanagi station). You can’t use this pass directly from Kyoto station unfortunately, easiest way is to use the pass is from either Tofukuji, Fushimi Inari or during exchange at Tambabashi station. This pass also covers rides up to Mt Otokoyama (Cable-hachimangu-sanjo Station).

4. Shichijo Station

Of all places why a train station right? This station stops along kamogawa (kamo river), the river stretches for miles and the most crowded spot is always around Gion. We discovered this place for a commercial video and was wondering where on earth could we find sakura during end of march as it was still early (kawazuzakura already ended by then) and most places hasn’t reached its peak yet (this was 2019).

Coming out from Shichijo station we were greeted by a long stretch of dainty pink sakura and it isn’t crowded because it’s just a walkway next to the main road, people come and go but not many. A good place for a short stroll, you get both sakura and kamogawa view so that’s a winner there.

Take it as a short side track visit in between your transit to other spots. It’s also covered under KEIHAN’s Kyoto-Osaka (1 or 2 days sightseeing pass from 800-1200yen) but not from Kyoto station.

That’s all for my post this round and I do hope you found it useful for your upcoming trips! Also feel free to share with me your favourite crowd free spots too, will make a visit there when I’m free :)
And thank you all so much for reading my 2000+ worded essay, i know it's not easy to read continuesly without feeling the yawn escaping from your throat haha, i had to stop myself here because i too can't stop yawning already 😂
Don't forget to share this article with your friends & family!

Yours Truly,

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