Situated in the northern part of Kyoto is the Kyoto Imperial Palace. There are a few big cherry blossom trees around the palace, although you need an advanced reservation to get inside the actual palace grounds. The area isn’t too crowded since it is very spacious, and it isn’t one of the more popular spots to view cherry blossoms. However, the cherry blossoms in this area are very beautiful!
I walked from Demachiyanagi Station to the palace and saw many cherry blossoms lining Kamo River. Much like many parts of the river that runs through Kyoto, you can cross it either by bridge or by hopping across the large rocks in the water.
The palace is about a 20 minute walk from the station. Since there aren’t too many cherry blossoms, many people gather around the trees to take pictures.
I didn’t see any cherry blossoms over the palace walls, and when I took a tour of the palace last summer, I don’t remember seeing too many trees inside. Although there aren’t many cherry blossoms here, it is still great to visit as it is much more relaxing compared to the more crowded spots around Kyoto.
There are also two temples and shrines near the palace, and there were only a handful of people at each. I first visited Nashinoki Shrine, a relatively newer shrine built in 1885 during the Meiji Period. Two high ranking government officials, Sanetsumu Sanjo and his son Sanetomi are enshrined here. They helped with the Meiji Restoration, and the shrine is named after their family’s hometown. The shrine is also mentioned in the classic Japanese novel, The Tale of Genji.
I spotted the shrine when I saw a torii in front of a large apartment building. I though this was very strange, as these gates are only used in front of temples or shrines. A sign pointed us the way to the shrine, which was actually behind the apartment building! This is highly unusual, but the people living in that building must have very good luck! And they’re probably very wealthy as it was a nice looking apartment building, and is very close to the Imperial Palace.
Inside the shrine you could purchase various good luck charms and fortunes. What was very unique to this shrine was that for their fortunes, you are given a seemingly blank piece of paper. Once you dip it in water, your fortune magically appears! I’ve never seen this at any other shrines before.
Next, I visited Rozanji Temple, which is just across the street of Nashinoki. This temple is much older, having been originally constructed in 938. As with many temples and shrines, it has been moved before and also burned down. The current temple was built in 1788. It is said that Murasaki Shikibu, the author of The Tale of Genji, used to live near the temple and wrote the novel at Rozanji Temple.
This area is definitely worth the visit, especially if you can get a reservation for the tour of the Imperial Palace!