Embracing Nature in the Kyoto Botanical Garden

Japan and its love for nature

Japan is not just about the ryokans of Hakone, the sushi of Okinawa, or the concrete jungles of Tokyo. There is a number of places in the country where they fully embrace the beauty of nature. There are large areas all around Japan where people can just walk around, sit around, and run around parks to appreciate the beauty of nature.

For the Japanese, nature is a central part of their daily lives. They appreciate the fact that it is the source of their life and living. They are also pioneers of nature conservation in the world where they incorporate tiny green spaces even on top of buildings and in the middle of urban areas. They incorporate nature into their daily lives. They also centralized their tourism through the appreciation of nature – hiking tours, ropeways, beaches, gardens, caves, and more!

There are a number of popular parks all over Japan. Among the most popular would be the Nara Park and the Kyoto Botanical Garden. These are great places to enjoy almost any season throughout the year. These places are great for people who love greeneries after a long busy day sightseeing the city. Going to gardens are especially relaxing. It is a great place to enjoy some picnic, short walks, fishing, and many more.

About the Kyoto Botanical Garden

Kyoto Botanical Garden Map and Location

The Kyoto Botanical Garden, or Kyoto Furitsu Shokubutsuen, is one of the largest prefectural gardens in all of Japan. The garden is located specifically in Hangi-cho Simogamo of the Sakyo city of the Kyoto Prefecture of Japan. It is located right next to the Kamo River of Kyoto. It has a total land area of about 240,000 square meters and is home to a variety of foreign and local flora. This place has been developed to provide a sanctuary of nature to the local residents of Kyoto.

What is special about the Kyoto Botanical Garden is the fact that it is the oldest of its kind in Japan. Inside its premises are 120,000 pieces of plants. There are different areas intended for different kinds of plants. There is a giant glasshouse within the property. There are lotus gardens and flower beds all over the place.

Among the favorite sections of the place are as follows:

  • Flowering Gardens – Inside the park, there are gardens for specific kinds of flowers. There is a section intended solely for Japanese irises and hydrangeas which are great summer flowers. For the springtime, there are flower beds made of different species of plants. However, the favorite go-to place for Kyoto residents would be the Camellia garden.

  • Special Plant Gardens – Other than sections for different kinds of flowers there are other parts of the garden which is solely for a themed plant. For instance, the garden has a massive bamboo section where the plants shoot feet up the ground. There is also a large lotus pond which is enjoyable to look at. They also have a section for Japanese native plants, perennial plants, and useful plants.

  • Themed gardens – The garden also features different themed sections. One is the Bonsai exhibit which is home to hundreds of tiny trees. It is said that making a bonsai is an art rather than a simple hobby as there are special techniques for maintaining the tiny size of a tree. There is also a European Style Garden inside the sanctuary.

  • Orchards – The blooms of some trees in the garden is a sure hit for many tourists during springtime. There is a large cherry orchard in the garden which is home to a total of 500 trees of different varieties. There is also an uma (plum) grove in the garden whose blooms are also beautiful during springtime.

  • The Conservatory – Inside the garden is a glass house which occupies about 4,600 square meters of space. It is a conservatory for about 25,000 plants from 4,500 species. It is home to different species of plants that require a controlled climate or condition and cannot live in the normal Kyoto habitat. The conservatory was established in 1992 and was designed to look like the Kinkakuji Temple and the Kitayama mountain. Inside the conservatory are different sections for Alpine plants, aquatic plants, carnivorous plants, savannah plants, forest succulents, jungle plants, and more.

By Daderot [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

History of the Kyoto Botanical Garden

The garden, unlike many popular parks in Japan, is actually fairly modern. It was not developed in the ancient centuries of Japan and instead it was established in the early 1920s. It started out as a simple city park home to an orchard of trees and shrubbery. Two decades later, the entire park was destroyed by the Second World War. It actually took another two decades (in the 1960s) for the garden to be reconstructed and refurbished.

All in all, there are about 12,000 species of plants located in this large expanse of land in Kyoto which vary from large trees to small flowery plants. However, this was the measure more than 10 years ago. Up until today, the population of trees, shrubs, and other plants in the garden still continues to increase.

Kyoto Botanical Garden Hours

Unlike other gardens in Japna, the Kyoto botanical garden actually closes pretty early. It is open from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. Entry to the premises at night is strictly prohibited unless an event is being held in the garden outside of its working hours. It is also important to remember that the garden is closed during the New Year’s celebrations starting from December 28 until January 4.

Kyoto Botanical Garden Entrance Fee

Since the garden is fairly huge, maintenance of the sanctuary can be quite expensive. The local government of Kyoto can provide enough finances to deal with its daily needs and maintenance. Because of this, a small fee of 200 yen can be required for travelers. A separate charge of 200 yen is required for those who wish to enter the conservatory.

What is interesting about the garden is the fact that there are some days of the year when the botanical garden has no admission fee. However, the primary requirement for this is that the individual is a resident of Kyoto.  

Access to the Kyoto Botanical Garden

People who wish to visit the Kyoto botanical garden can take note of the fact that it is very close to other landmarks like the Kyoto Concert Hall, the Kyoto Prefectural University, and the shopping street of Kitayama and Higashiyama.

There are two options that will take an individual near to the Kyoto Botanical Garden. One is through taking the subway from Kyoto station up to the Kitayama station. The garden is a few minutes walk away from the train station. There are also buses that allow passengers to alight directly at the garden. Tourists can take the no. 1, no. 4, and no. 8 buses from the Kyoto station terminal.

Best Time to Visit The Kyoto Botanical Garden

Kyoto Botanical Garden Autumn

The park is actually quite popular for day tours during the autumn. The entire garden is lined up with different species of trees whose leaves turn slowly brown and red from green. The fall colors are a warm contrast to the cold weather. At this time of the year, it is a great experience to learn about the different autumn flowers like Japanese anemones, dahlias, and certain varieties of daisies. It is also a great way to see the beautiful foliage of the Sakura and uma trees inside the park. There are a lot of tourists that actually travel to the park just to see the change of color from summer to fall.

A walk around the park is actually great as a form of exercise during the colder months of October and November. Taking a bike around the garden, running, and even just walking will be enough to burn a few hundred calories and keep warm.

Kyoto Botanical Garden Summer

The botanical garden is an affordable tour location for school trips. The summer climate is also great for young students to run around the garden, enjoy some time cycling, experience picnics, and more. These activities can be done while allowing young children to learn about conservation and care for nature in general. The school can set up a specific itinerary for the day, providing enjoyable activities for their young children. They can set up a schedule on when and how the students will explore the entire park.

During the summertime, the hydrangeas and irises are in full bloom. These are beautiful flowers that survive even the harshest rainy weather. Usually, these plants bloom late July to early August. Once the hydrangeas start to dry up, it is a sign that it is only a matter of days before the lotuses in the pond produce bright colored flowers.

Kyoto Botanical Garden Spring

Of course, the best time to go to the Kyoto Botanical park would be during springtime. This is the time when the plum and cherry trees are in full bloom. This is also the time when the flower beds are sprinkled with colorful blossoms. There is a sweet and delicious fragrance in the air that cannot compare to other months of the year.

By KimonBerlin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kimon/7183471180/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This is also the best opportunity to see the garden coming to life after a long hibernation due to the cold climate. Visitors can opt to go around the place with a guide or just walk around letting one’s eyes do all the guidance. The great aspect of the garden entrance tickets is the fact that it allows for multiple entries throughout the day. Why not take a jog in the morning, go back to the hotel to rest, then enjoy a picnic at the park. Or another option would be to enjoy leisure time at the park then go out to grab some lunch in nearby restaurants before going back to explore the garden further.

Kyoto Botanical Garden Winter

During the wintertime, the majority of the garden is covered with snow which is why there are some sections in the park which are closed. However, this does not mean that going to the park is not as enjoyable. The conservatory of the botanical garden is home to plants that came from a variety of climates and habitat conditions. This is the best time to enjoy these plant because the conservatory provides a controlled habitat for them to thrive.

Other than that, there are certain plants in the garden which survive through the winter. These include the bamboo, the bonsai, and the perennial plants. Perennial plants are known to be long lasting plants that neither grow nor shrink through time. As long as they are cared for, these plants easily survive the cold weather.

Plants and Flowers in the Kyoto Botanical Garden

Kyoto Botanical Garden Spring Flowers – There are a wide variety of flowers and blooms which could be enjoyed when visiting the botanical garden during spring. There are flower beds for sunflowers, tulips, roses, and wisterias. There are also blossoms from plums and cherries. However, the number one attraction in the park would be the camellias. These are grown widely in the Kyoto area and have bright, neon pink color. Its leaves are popular for making tea and its seeds are extracted for oil.

Kyoto Botanical Garden Summer blooms – People think that rainy days usually kill off plants. What they don’t know is that there are plants like irises, morning glories, hydrangeas, and physalis. This is also the time when a great majority of the park is lushly green – a beautiful color that is a sign of freshness and vitality.

By KimonBerlin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kimon/7183508058/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Kyoto Botanical Garden September or fall flowers  - Fall flowers in the park include chrysanthemums, apricots, spider lilies, some roses, and more.  There are still a number of beautiful blooms in the park during the months of September until November. On top of this, it is also enjoyable to see the autumn foliage where the leaves of the trees turn golden and brown.