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The Best Picnic spots in Kyoto


 

Kyoto is one of the greenest cities in Japan it has many green spaces and is surrounded by mountains on three sides. 

In addition to parks, you’ll find greenery and open space in most temples and shrines

Kyoto is filled with green spaces that provide welcome relief from the concrete jungle that is the city.

The Japanese people have been picnicking for many centuries; the Hanami season being the most popular time.

 a Hanami party is when you Picnic under a pink cherry blossom tree in spring (March to mid-April).

It is the Japanese way of celebrating the transient beauty of nature, along with your friends and family, and loads of food and drinks.

The spring season is preferred because the flowers are in their full bloom stage, and if you are in Kyoto, you will see how beautiful it gets.

If it is your first time in Kyoto during the Hanami season, then be ready to join fun Kyoto citizens and savoury food items because it is one of the most celebrated times in Japan.

So when it’s time to head outside for a picnic, discover the best of Kyoto by visiting these choice spots.

1. Kyoto Botanical Gardens

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Image by Daderot from Wikimedia

At the Kyoto Botanical Gardens in Kitayama so every visit is a new experience because you can see different seasonal flowers every time you visit. 

The gardens are very spacious so it’s easy to find your very own spot to have a picnic.

Kyoto Botanical will reward you with two feasts: one is the picnic, and the other is a feast for your eyes, as everything around you is filled with beautiful flowers.

If you’re a bit tired after strolling in the garden, visit the cafe, IN THE GREEN, situated next to the Kitayama gate of the garden.

The restaurant is very popular as a place where you can enjoy a meal in an open atmosphere.

Open between 11am to 11pm.

2. Maruyama Park

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Maruyama Park turns into vivid shades of green signalling the beginning of summer.

This contrasts beautifully with the bright blue sky, and there is something very comforting in this sight.

There is a small Japanese bridge and pond at the park, making the atmosphere feel even more Japanese.

Maruyama Park makes an ideal rest stop when sightseeing. Explore pleasant walking trails, grassy picnic spots and a scenic pond inhabited by serene koi fish.

Like many outdoor spaces in Japan, Maruyama is at its most beautiful during the spring cherry blossom season, as long as you don’t mind sharing the view with the hanami (flower viewing) crowds.

The star of the show is a stunning shidarezakura (weeping cherry tree).

Maruyama Koen is a 5-10-minute walk from Shijo Keihan Station. From Kyoto Station, take the #206 or #207 bus to the Gion bus stop.

3. Kyoto Imperial Palace

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Many locals visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace courtyard for a stroll or even for a picnic when the weather is nice.

Originally the palace was home to the emperor when the capital of Japan was known as Heian-kyo ( present-day Kyoto city).

Take a step inside the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and you will immediately feel the stately atmosphere.

Tall trees surround the path on both sides, and there’s even a little river you can listen to its flowing sound. 

If the weather is nice, you can see many families having picnics in the garden. So sit down by a tree, and enjoy the nice weather with your family. 

English tours are offered at 10am and 2pm. Making a reservation online to reserve a spot is recommended. Your passport or residence card is required to enter.

4.  Umekoji Park

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Umekoji Park (Umekoji Koen) is a large, multi-purpose park west of Kyoto Station in the south of Kyoto.

The large grounds of the park are home to the Kyoto Aquarium and the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum.

Umekoji Park is not often included in tourist itineraries despite its proximity to Kyoto Station. 

However, it’s also a great place to take the kids when they’ve had enough of temples and shrines.

This park has walking paths, picnic spots, and wide-open spaces perfect for playing ball games, sunbathing or running around, as well as a decent play area for children.

5. Kamo River

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The Kamo River is the most popular place for a picnic in Kyoto it functions as Kyoto’s central park.

Both sides are lined with wide green areas and bike paths, with plenty of benches and exercise areas.

Up near the Demachiyanagi end of the river, there are wide play areas that are great for picnics and for letting children run around.

There are also imaginative “bridges” made from stone turtles that children can use to hop across the river.

The west (Kamo-gawa) branch is lined with wide park areas and has some of the best cherry blossom trees in the city which is perfect for hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties).

Tourists and locals love the Kamo River and like to spend some time by its banks.

The river is especially beautiful in summer when you can use the yuka-riverside dining terraces

6.  Togetsu-kyo Bridge in Arashiyama

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Surrounded by the wonderful scenery of nature, the Togetsukyo Bridge is one of the symbols of Arashiyama. 

Arashiyama is one of the three most often visited sightseeing spots in Kyoto.

Most people will head straight to the bamboo grove and the temples, but as you head to them from Hankyu Arashiyama Station, you can also take a moment to rest by the riverside and enjoy the view of the Togetsu-kyo Bridge.

The best way to enjoy this area is to buy something small to eat from the food stalls and have a mini picnic by the river.

Listen to the relaxing sound of the river, spot rowing boats, and run into tourists enjoying their rickshaw rides

7. Yoshidayama Park and Green Space

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The area consists of Yoshidayama Hill, home to the pagodas of the Kurodani and Shinnyodo temples as well as the picturesque Yoshida shrine.

The Japanese garden which surrounds Yoshida-sanso offers both subtle and dramatic views that change from season to season.

Wild birds can often be seen playing among the spring cherry blossoms or the vibrant azaleas of early summer.

There is a delicate hush in this calm and timeless place, a quiet refuge from the clamour of city life.

Guests can enjoy a bowl of invigorating matcha green tea in the gardens at different times of the year. 

This is a great place to bring the kids and have a picnic. It’s also good for jogging.

8.  Takaraga-ike Park and Pond

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Takaragaike is a pleasant man-made irrigation lake in northern Kyoto, dating from the 18th century when it was built to supply water for irrigating the area’s rice fields.

Here you can enjoy pleasure-boating, a jogging and walking track, gazebos, cherry-blossom viewing in season and views of Mount Hiei.

Nearby is the Kyoto International Conference Center where the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change was negotiated in 1997.

This expansive park is an excellent place for a stroll or picnic in natural surroundings far from the throngs in the city centre.

It is a popular place to spend time alone contemplating while enjoying the walk around a koi and turtle.

9.      Nanzen-ji Temple

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Most temples have a bit of greenery, but Nanzen-ji really stands out as a green oasis.

In addition to the spacious central precinct, which has some lovely moss and maple trees, there is a lovely shrine and sub-temple in the forest uphill from the temple

The sprawling temple compound of the Nanzen-ji Temple has a number of fantastic spots for cherry blossom viewing, so it’s perfect for a Hanami cherry blossom viewing picnic.

On top of that, you can go up and see the cherry blossoms from the balcony of the San-mon Gate.

Check out this temple for a rare cherry blossom viewing opportunity.

10. Muri-an garden

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The garden sits on the slopes of the Higashiyama Hills and has a source of water by a canal from Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, which feeds a shallow artificial stream, with a triple waterfall which runs through the garden.

The garden features contrasts between shady forests and sunlit open spaces and a long promenade to see the different sights of the garden, including many views of the Higashiyama Hills.

Part of an elegant villa constructed in the late 1800s by leading statesman Yamagata Aritomo, Murin-an is a charming garden that somehow remains blissfully tranquil despite its beauty and historical significance.

A creation of the highly acclaimed Ogawa Jihei, it uses the concept of shakkei (borrowed scenery) to incorporate the surrounding Higashiyama mountains into the garden’s design.

Take your time strolling around the streams, ponds and waterfalls fed by water from Lake Biwa, or relax with a cup of matcha tea and traditional sweets at the teahouse.

 Murin-an is especially beautiful during the fall when the maple trees turn vibrant shades of red.


There are countless great restaurants in Kyoto, but sometimes you just want to relax and enjoy nature by having a picnic.

So get something to eat, a drink to wash it down and have your very own Kyoto picnic!