KYO: Maruyama Koen Park

Maruyama Koen Park & Cherry Blossom Viewing

Cherry Blossom Viewing (We call it “Ohana-Mi”, Ohana means flowers – in this case, we mostly mean it Cherry blossoms-, and “Mi” means viewing.) is one of the most popular spring events. In the ancient days, flower viewing was one of the indispensable events among the aristocratic class. It has also been an important subject in literature, dance, and painting. Over time, the custom has spread among the common people, and today, all Japanese enjoy. Of course, every year, I enjoy Ohana-Mi. I have some opportunities for the events in one season, and for most of the time, I enjoy it in Maruyama Koen Park.

 Maruyama Koen Park is the oldest park in Kyoto-city, established in 1886. It has an area of 86,600sqm. Till the Meiji restoration, it has been a part of Yasaka Jinja Shrine and Anyoji Temple but on the first year of the Meiji period, the land was taken by the government, and a huge park was created. The present style is created by Ogawa Chihei, one of the most famous gardeners, in 1912, and is the Chisen-Kaiyu-siki style (a style of garden that features a path around a pond). In the park, there are an open-air music hall, restaurants, cafés, statues of historical heroes, villas, a temple, and so on. But many people visit this park to view the gorgeous weeping cherry tree. From year to year, the tree has been damaged, but still, we look forward to meeting that tree every year. I mostly visit there at night. The tree is illuminated during the season.

By the way, there is one more purpose of this visit for me. As many Japanese do, I enjoy eating & drinking under cherry blossoms. Every year, I book the open-air eatery, called Gin-sui. Close to that famous weeping cherry tree, there is an area where people can sit down and eat under the trees. Every year, it is a little bit cold, but this year was extremely cold, it was 6 degrees Celsius…. So, we ordered hot-pot meal, and hot Sake, but that night picnic was also such a fun for me during this flower season. (Honestly, the food itself is not brilliant, but if you are interested in that festive atmosphere, it would be nice to try once.) For sure, before that dinner, I prayed at Yasaka Jinja Shrine as usual because the park is right behind that shrine.

Anyway, to get back to the Maruyama Koen Park, I have one more reason to visit there. When I walk from Yasaka Jinja Shrine to the park, on the right hand side, there are storages of around 10 floats of the Gion Matsuri Festival. I have never seen the inside, but I like to see that the floats are in the land of dreams in this park. (I might have said before, but I love the Gion Matsuri Festival.)

 The season of cherry blossom is very short. However, there are so many ways to enjoy this season. I like viewing the flowers in silence in a temple, walking along the river, going on a picnic with bento box, but every year, I cannot forget that night picnic under cherry trees with my family and friends! (On the way back, please do not forget to stroll around Gion area, especially, along the Shirakawa River where you will be able to feel the beauty of Kyoto.)