Japan is known to have a lot of attractions that cater to different wants and needs of people. They have places that entertain people who are into anime. They have places that entertain history lovers. Basically, they have something for practically anything you might be into. Among the many things that you can enjoy in Japan, one of the most prominent things they are known for and people go for is the cherry blossoms that you can find here. If you are the kind of person who would enjoy these beautiful trees as well, you should take a trip to a park in Kyoto known as the Maruyama Park.
Interesting Information about the Maruyama Park in Kyoto, Japan like the Inexistent Entrance Fee
After a long day of adventure, what usually relaxes people is a nice nap in their hotel or a soothing onsen bath to release the tension from all the walking you might have done. There are also some people who prefer unwinding and relaxing in a more open place and if you are a person that would enjoy this kind of atmosphere for relaxing, you will definitely love the Maruyama Park.
This park is a public park which means that access to it comes at no cost whatsoever. It is located in the Higashiyama District in Kyoto and it is known to be the most popular cherry blossom viewing site in Kyoto. There are many places in Japan that you can go to in order to see and appreciate the beauty of these cherry blossoms but the Maruyama Park has an edge of the other sakura attractions and that is the Maruyama Park’s centerpiece called the “Weeping Cherry Tree” or the Shidarezakura. This tree is unique because it has been recorded to be at least 70 years old and is also said to have come from a tree that was over 300 years old.
This area wasn’t always a park as well. As you probably know, Japan has a lot of temples and shrines scattered everywhere. Prior to the Meiji Period, this area was also used as the location of several temples. These temples were burnt down like the majority of historic landmarks in Japan but unlike those landmarks and temples that were rebuilt, the Maruyama Park or Maruyama Koen was instead turned into the public park that you now see presently. It’s conversion into a public park happened in the year of 1871 but it wasn’t until 1886 that it was opened to the public.
This park was designed similarly to how Chinese parks are. This resemblance is evident in how there are walkways, ponds, and ornate bridges that are found all over the park. You can also find the statues of Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintaro in this park. These two people were samurai activists who were killed in Kyoto for their attempts to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate in the year of 1867.
If you stop and think about it, for a certain area to be used for temples and statues, the area needs to be quite a vast one. It might not be as apparent due to the way that the park was designed but the Maruyama Park actually has an area of 86,000 square meters. Having an area this big makes it easy to have stroll gardens, small orchards, rest houses, and Japanese restaurants situated within the vicinity of the park.
This park is open all year long and, again, there is no entrance fee to be paid. It is found exactly in Maruyama-cho, Higashiyama-ku in Kyoto and it is only a 5-minute walk from the City Bus Stop known as “Gion”. You can get to this bus stop by riding a number 100 or a number 206 bus that you’ll find at the Kyoto Station. If you are coming from anywhere else in Japan, you first need to reach the Kyoto Station because it is the station that gives you the easiest access to the bus and other routes to the park. From the station, you should be able to reach the park in 20 minutes which already accounts for the travel time on the 100 or 206 bus.
Maruyama Park’s Sakura during Nights in Full Bloom as well as during the Summer, Winter, and Autumn
The Maruyama Park is actually recognized as a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty. This recognition is given by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and considering all that can be enjoyed in this park, it is just right for them to honor this place with such a status. This park is the oldest park in Kyoto and it truly does showcase the culture of Japan because of its beauty. With this being said, it comes as no surprise that both young and old as well as both locals and foreigners go crazy about the scenery here.
It also helps a lot that they hold blossom-viewing parties here. Do not be misled by the name of the event because viewing the cherry blossoms bloom isn’t the only thing to do in this event. There are tables set up under the cherry trees where people can eat, drink and mingle. Once the night time comes, the old weeping cherry tree or the Shiderazukura is lit up. The lights enhance the beauty of the drooping branches that are filled with the jaw-dropping blossoms.
These events happen whether the cherry blossoms are in full bloom or not. Seeing this event when the cherry trees are in full bloom will obviously be the preference for anybody but the time during the full bloom of these flowers is also the time when this place is extremely crowded. If you are okay with the crowds or you are willing to gut it out to see and experience this beautiful site at its prime, it would be best to go here during early April.
You might be wondering why the cherry blossoms bloom in this area during early April when the ones in Okinawa bloom as early as January and the ones in Hokkaido bloom as late as early May. To explain this query, you should know that not all the cherry trees bloom at the same time. In a way, they are dependent on the temperate and weather of a certain area. Areas with warmer weathers tend to make these trees bloom earlier while cooler places tend to do the opposite. With this being said, this explains why Okinawa gets the first glimpse of fully bloomed cherry blossoms in Japan every year and why Hokkaido gets the last glimpse as well. Kyoto and Tokyo are in the middle of this so that also explains why early April is when these majestic flowers reach their peak.
The Other Attractions and Accommodations You Can Enjoy Near the Maruyama Park
If you happen to go here during the months wherein these flowers aren’t in bloom, do not worry because that doesn’t necessarily mean that your trip was a waste. It might not be near any university but there are plenty of other things you can enjoy and experience here aside from the pre-bloomed and post-bloomed cherry trees that are still quite beautiful to look at despite the lack of budding cherry blossoms. Going to this area only will bring to close enough to see the temples and shrines that surround the vicinity.
The main entrance of the park is actually through the Yasaka Shrine. It was once called the Gion Shrine because of how it is situated in the Gion district. You can also see the Kodaiji Temple from the park because it is just located on Nene Street in eastern Kyoto. You’ll want to pass by this temple if you love history because this temple has been there since the year of 1605 when it was founded. It also happens to be considered the best-preserved area in Kyoto so if you want a glimpse of the past, you should definitely make time to pass by this place.
After resting and relaxing at the park, travelers usually get the urge to unwind some more by drinking. If you see yourself as a person who would do this, it is recommendable to go to the Gion area because this place is filled with great drinking places. You will also be able to see some geishas on your visit here and that is always a plus, especially if you are a tourist looking to see the Japanese culture.
There are much more temples and shrines to be seen in this area like the Kiyomizu Temple or the Heian Jingu Shrine but you can just research the particular places you want to see in addition to the park to save valuable time from your adventure as well as for you to be well guided on your travel too. You can also opt to get a place to stay that is near the park so that you can easily visit all the attractions you can find here. There are a lot of great hotels but if you happen to be on a budget or if you are not looking for a luxurious place to stay in, you’ll be happy to find out that there are a lot of ryokans you can stay in.
There is the Kaede Guesthouse that is only a 6-minute walk from the Shijo subway station. There is also the Kyoto Ryokan “the Kinoe”: Japanese-style inn where you can also enjoy a delicious meal because they specialize in Kyoto’s traditional cuisine. Basically, this place has everything you can possibly want and need for your trip. All you need to do is research which ones you prefer online and plan your trip accordingly to maximize your locations and the places you can reach from that location.
From everything mentioned above, whether you get to visit this place during the seasons of winter, summer, or autumn, it would still be worth the time and effort to do so because you will be able to enjoy all the other attractions for tourism and experiences to be had here. The Japanese culture has a lot of sides and experiencing the life in this area will surely show you another side of the Japanese culture that you might not have seen before. There’s nothing for you to lose anyway because by going here, you will be able to set your eyes upon things that you can only find here in Japan.