Pass under the bright vermillion torii gates of Hirano Shrine, and you’ll encounter over fifty different cherry blossom species even before you reach the monument itself. This includes the Sakigake sakura, a variety that blooms in mid-March and is considered a harbinger of spring, as well as species that blossom late into April, giving Hirano Shrine one of the longest blooming periods found in Kyoto.
Over a century old, Hirano Shrine has long been a favorite spot for enjoying cherry blossoms. The shrine was founded in 794 CE, the same year that the Japanese capital moved to Kyoto, then known as Heian-kyo. A favorite of the Japanese nobility, in the 10th century Hirano Shrine was visited by Emperor Kazan who ordered a festival at the shrine to wish for the prosperity of the imperial bloodline.
The Hirano Shrine cherry blossom festival was resurrected in 1921, and since then has been celebrated on the second Sunday of every April. The cherry blossom festival begins in the morning and includes a ceremony at the mausoleum of Emperor Kazan and a processional through the local neighborhood. At night, the sakura trees are illuminated with lights; and the shrine is lively with yatai food stands, live music performances, and crowds gathering to eat, drink, and be merry beneath the cherry blossoms.
Hirano Shrine is also a popular hanami location for university students thanks to its close proximity to Ritsumeikan University, so it’s not unusual to find many young people gathered here in the spring. However, the shrine is less well-known than some of Kyoto’s more famous sites, so you can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms without having to fight the crowds.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.