Maruyama Park Kyoto
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Lively park in central Kyoto popular during cherry blossom season
At the eastern end of Shijo-Dori the bright red gate of Yasaka Shrine beckons visitors to one of the most popular parks in Kyoto, Maruyama Park (円山公園 / Maruyama Koen), opened to the public in 1886.
In April when the cherry blossom comes out to bloom Maruyama Park takes on more of the vibe of an outdoor rock concert such are the numbers of locals (and travellers) that flock to the park to get boozed up under the blossom during their hanami parties. If you're in Kyoto at the time, it's a scene well worth checking out. In the center of Maruyama Park is a 70-year-old weeping cherry tree (shidarezakura) that forms the center piece of the park's gloat at this time of year.
Outside of the hanami season, Maruyama Park remains a fairly active place. The park's location explains this well, being as it is the link between downtown Kyoto (including Gion) and the heavily trod Higashiyama district with all the iconic attractions that that part of Kyoto has to offer. It's a little odd then that Maruyama Park displays a more robust side to Kyoto than neighbouring areas like Higashiyama and Gion might suggest. In fact, many sections of the park have an unkempt feel about them, so of which boarder of scrub land. Still, there are plenty of trails to explore that take you past overgrown bridges crossing dried up streams and past well worn pergolas where if you sit for a while local cats will do their best to friend you up. As you explore the park keep a look out for the large statues of Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintaro, two prominent figures in Japanese history who brought about the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance a precursor to the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Both Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintaro met their end in Kyoto. Or is that just an urban myth?
One or two cafes / restaurants can be found in Maruyama Park if you're feeling peckish (although expect 'park' prices) and there are often stalls selling food and drink around the entrance to Yasaka Shrine.
Maruyama Park is more a place for a stroll and a bit of a rest rather than a place for a full on picnic or a game of soccer.
The nearest train station to the park is Gion-Shijo (Keihan Line).
Maruyama Park is open 24 hrs and is free to enter.
Maruyamacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0071