If you want to have a picnic lunch and spend a few lazy hours people-watching in Kyoto, Maruyama Park is a must-visit. This beautiful park is situated next to the very popular and touristy Yasaka Shrine and is one of the best cherry blossom (sakura) viewing spots in Kyoto. The most impressive sight is the shidarezuka, the weeping cherry tree, where you’ll find hundreds of picnic-ers around lunchtime.
I didn’t get any very good photos of Yasaka Shrine because of the crowds, but it is one of the most popular shrines in Kyoto as it sits between the Gion and Higashiyama districts. I’ll be doing on blog on Gion soon enough…
After spending some leisurely time in Maruyama Park, we mosey’d on over to Chionin temple, easily recognisable by its giant Sanmon Gate. If you climb the steep steps you’ll be treated to its beautiful gardens and Seishido Hall, but as we were tired we pondered some of life’s great questions (what is love? what is life?) while watching large groups of students coming down the stairs. I’m assuming they were most likely visiting the shrine to pray for exam success!
Eastern Kyoto is a generally beautiful area to visit and there’s lots to accidentally stumble across. Next on our list was the historic Higashiyama district. This is one of the best places to experience ‘traditional’ Kyoto, where the narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops remind tourists and locals alike of the city’s imperial past. Higashiyama’s narrow streets are lined by small shops and cafes, serving traditional goods such as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery and pickles. I bought some rather cool samurai chopsticks here! The walk can be done in about half an hour but it’s easy to get lost or distracted. Like most places in Japan, there’s lots of hidden surprises!
Next on the blog… I’ll be writing up on my awesome weekend at HYPER JAPAN!