Maruyama Park, located in Kyoto in the Higashiyama District, is one of the most popular spots for cherry blossom viewing (hanami) during late March and early April. This park holds over a thousand stunning cherry blossom trees. The delicate petals against the blue skies is a view one really appreciates. The natural beauty of this park also lies in the main attraction: a tall shidarezakura (or weeping cherry blossom tree). This cherry blossom tree is located in the center of the park and is over seventy years old. It is rumored to have been grown from a cherry blossom tree that was over 300 years old. Illuminated at night, this cherry blossom tree alone is something one should take a trip to see.
Maruyama Park was opened in 1886, in the early Meiji period. It was formerly home to many temples, but (unfortunately), they were destroyed by fire. The park is set up like a Chinese-style park, with many stone walkways, ponds, and beautiful, ornate bridges taking one across the crisscrossing rivers of the park. The northern entrance to the park leads directly to the Chionin Temple with the main entrance to the park through the Yasaka Shrine. As well, there are statues of Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintary (two samurai activists from Kochi, who were assassinated after trying to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate) located in the park.
In case you forgot to bring food or refreshments, there are many stands and small shops to purchase them at in the park. The park itself is open twenty four hours, and it is free to visit any time of the day. There is a private walking tour of Southern Higashiyama that you can pay to go on that will go through the park if you would like a guided tour of the beautiful space.
This little park is very popular among locals and tourists. No matter what time of the day you go during hanami season, you are bound to see people drinking, eating, singing, playing instruments, singing karaoke on their portable machine, and just admiring the cherry blossoms that bloom once a year.
Crowds and intoxicated people are something you will have to deal with when going to this park during the cherry blossom festival, but to see the natural beauty that the park houses is worth every minute of it. The crowds and drunk people are not very annoying either, and they do not hinder the amazing cherry blossoms that cover this park during cherry blossom season.
In fact, the crowds and people are all part of this amazing experience that one is lucky to experience one in a lifetime. Although it happens every year, the viewing of the cherry blossoms is a tradition that is not taken lightly; it is a celebration of life and beauty that is important to Japan and its culture. Being able to participate in something like that is truly something one will never forget in their lifetime.
[map lat=”35.00388″ lng=”135.7809168″][/map]
Address: 473 Maruyamacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
Access: 12 minute walk from Gion-Shijo Station
Website: Maruyama Park