When we talk about the spring in Kyoto, images of cherry blossoms come to mind. But the flower season actually starts much earlier, in February, with the blossoming of the plum flowers. One of the best places in Kyoto to enjoy these is a lovely shrine located in southern Kyoto, Jōnangū.


Sure, Jōnangū Shrine is a bit out of the way (see access information below), but it is such a pleasant getaway from the more crowded shrines and temples in the city center.  With five separate gardens surrounding the main Heian Era Shinto shrine that was built in 794, visitors are able to enjoy a variety of natural offerings and take a relaxing stroll through the precincts enjoying whatever flowers are in season. But Jōnangū is especially famous for its weeping plum blossoms in late winter and early spring. 

Beginning with the access point near the shrine’s shop, you enter the “Haru no Yama” (Spring Mountain) Garden, which offers a leisurely stroll over a small stream in a grove of camellia trees as well as the shrine’s famous weeping plum blossoms. 

Continuing on takes you to the Heian Period-style Garden, which is home to a serene pond as well as a babbling brook that makes its way through lush moss and a wisteria trellis where the shrine holds its twice-annual Kyokusui no Utage, a recreation of a Heian Period poetry game.