In the old days, it was said that the beautifully blooming then bravely dispersing cherry blossoms embodied the ideal samurai model. In this course, you can experience the beauty of the cherry blossoms and contemplate the samurai way of life through Zen meditation. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the mysterious lives of the bygone samurai.
(About 5.5 hours)
In Kyoto, it is said the cherry blossoms of Hirano-jinja Shrine are the first to bloom and the end of March is the best time for viewing the cherry blossoms here. Next to the shrine is a cherry blossom park which has many tea shops from where visitors may enjoy some sake while gazing at the cherry blossoms in full bloom. This shrine is a major cherry blossom viewing spot, and there are good luck charms as well as many unique cherry blossom-themed items for sale.
Address: 1 Miyamoto-cho, Hirano, Kita-ku, Kyoto City
Access: A short walk from City Bus Stop Kinugasako-mae
Hours: 5:00-17:00 (In winter: 6:00-17:00)
Myoshin-ji Shunko-in is a Zen sub-temple in the Myoshin-ji temple complex. Although usually closed to the public, this temple offers Zen mediation classes in English without reservations so visitors can have a seated Zen meditation experience. An overnight stay in a traditional pilgrim's lodging is also offered at this temple. Reservations can be made through the website.
Address: 42 Myoshinji-cho, Hanazono, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City
Access: A short walk from city bus stop Myoshin-ji Kitamon-mae
12-minute walk from Hanazono Station on the JR Sagano Line
Hours: Closed to the public (Zen meditation, 3 times daily: 9:00-10:30, 10:40-12:10 (no reservation required), 13:30-15:00 (only for a group of 4 or more people and reservation required)
Price: Zen meditation and Tour (including 2 meditation sessions, tour of the temple, maccha and Japanese sweets): 2,000 yen; Zen mediation (2 meditation sessions): 1,000 yen, Overnight stay + Zen meditation: 5,000 yen, Overnight stay with shared bathroom: 4,000 yen
Nijo-jo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is especially stunning when the 220 cherry trees and castle garden are illuminated during the cherry blossom season. During this event, the outer citadel (which is normally closed to the public) becomes the site of an ikebana flower arrangement exhibition and traditional Japanese musical performances. Tea will be served within the main castle garden especially for this event.
Address: 541 Nijojo-cho, Horikawa Nijo-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City
Access: A short walk from Nijojo-mae Station on the Tozai Subway Line
A short walk from City Bus Stop Nijo-jo mae
Hours: (During spring illumination time) 18:00 - 21:30 (Last entry at 21:00)
Entrance fees: 400 yen (Free for visitors dressed in kimonos)