The Yodo Suiro Waterway | Kyoto’s Early Cherry Blossom Spot

The early cherry blossom Kawazu-zakura are in full bloom at the Yodo Waterway in Kyoto City.

In comparison to some of my more in-depth area guides on the blog, today’s article is going to be quite condensed. This week, we’ll be taking a look at Kyoto’s lovely Yodo Suiro Waterway. Lacking the normal historical pedigree that is common to the types of locations I favor, there is but one simple reason that travelers ought to visit the Yodo Suiro Waterway — cherry blossoms. You see, this homely rivulet is host to hundreds of Kawazu-zakura. Unlike their more famous cousins, the Somei Yoshino cherry blossoms, these trees bloom far earlier and thus herald in the arrival of spring. Should you find yourself in Kyoto when they are at their peak, I highly suggest that you budget a few hours to swing by the Yodo Suiro Waterway.

Now, there are indeed a lot of places to see the Kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms in Japan. Heck, I just covered one such locale last week with an epic view of Mt. Fuji! Alas, iconic options like the Izu Peninsula’s Kawazu (yes, this is exactly where they get their name from) are often quite a ways off of the beaten path for travelers doing standard Japan itineraries. Luckily, this is not at all the case for the Yodo Suiro Waterway. In fact, the hidden gem slots seamlessly into any trip to Japan’s former capital. It can be conveniently reached from the ever-popular Gion-Shijo area in around just half an hour thereby making it a reasonable add-on to even the most packed travel agendas.

Should you opt to organize an hour or two for the Yodo Suiro Waterway and its Kawazu-zakura, one thing that you should know is that it often draws a crowd. Truth be told, it can feel like all of the Kansai region is there at times. While that might be a bit hyperbolic, one thing is certain; You can expect to see every #GramGirl in the area to be there trying to snap that perfectly pink shot for Instagram. Thankfully though, there are more than enough trees to go around so you don’t need to battle it out to get pictures when visiting this popular spot in Kyoto.

How to Get There

All things considered, the trip to the Yodo Suiro Waterway is about as easy as they come. Assuming that you’re starting in Kyoto City itself, you’ll want to first make your way to the eastern sides of Japan’s ancient capital. Here, you can catch one of the Keihan Line trains bound for Osaka and the southern sections of Kyoto Prefecture. You’ll want to get off at Yodo station but just be warned that not all trains stop here. Thus, you’re encouraged to plug your destination into a service like Jorudan to calculate the most efficient means of getting there. This will ensure that you don’t make any mistakes and end up down in Osaka!

Once you’ve arrived at Yodo Station, you’re going to need to walk your ways over to the Yodo Suiro Waterway before you can enjoy any of the flowers. Thankfully, all you really need to do when the trees are blooming is trail behind the rest of the people who are all heading down to the river. Should you get lost though, just refer to this Google Map. Alternatively, you can just follow the train tracks of the Keihan Line down from Yodo Station as this will lead you directly to the start of the Yodo Suiro Waterway.

One thing I’ll note before moving on is that the Yodo Suiro Waterway can get a bit congested at the areas closest to the train tracks. Thus, you’re better off following the channel a bit further down if you’re trying to get any peopleless pictures. Though rather narrow at the beginning, the deeper portions of the Yodo Suiro Waterway are far less crowded as can be seen in the shot above. Do yourselves a favor and walk a little ways along the waterway. That way, you don’t need to compete with all of the other selfie takers and the doggos of Instagram.

When to See the Cherry Blossoms

When it comes to seasonal flowers, I have a bad reputation for utterly missing the timing. Eager to get there first and document things for all of you, I am often overly zealous and end up going way too early for things to be blooming. Luckily, I hit the timing for the Yodo Suiro Waterway perfectly last year. As can be seen in the imagery all throughout this article, the Kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms explode with vibrant hues. This dyes pink the entirety of the Yodo Suiro Waterway and is especially beautiful when set against the yellow backdrop of the yellow Nanohana (canola flowers).

Though it certainly varies from year to year, the Yodo Suiro Waterway’s Kawazu-zakura cherry trees are often at their peak during the middle of March. This is a bit later than some other spots in Japan such as the aforementioned Izu Peninsula. Because of this, you really ought to check the status of the cherry trees before departing. After all, nothing is worse than heading all the way down to a place like the Yodo Suiro Waterway only to find the flowers still encased in their buds. Don’t do a Donny and go there too early!

Other Nearby Attractions

Kyoto’s Fushimi-Momoyama Castle is a reconstructed medieval stronghold that is an easy add on to the Yodo Suiro Waterway

If you’re looking for something nearby the Yodo Suiro Waterway, consider checking out Fushimi-Momoyama Castle. Conveniently located but a few stops to the north of Yodo Station, this stronghold was initially intended to be a place of retirement for the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi following his conquest of Japan. Ultimately, the original Fushimi-Momoyama Castle had an untimely end and much of the fortress was repurposed in other temple and castle infrastructure throughout Japan. While the twin keeps of Fushimi-Momoyama Castle are indeed impressive, the building is not open to the public like other modern reconstructions.

Alternatively, you could also elect to head down south to Iwashimizu Hachimangu. As I wrote in this article, this venerable shrine is hugely important to the development of the samurai as a ruling class and was at the heart of the Minamoto clan’s power base. It’s one of the top hidden gems in Kyoto and pairs well with the cherry blossom trees back at the Yodo Suiro Waterway. In fact, when I first made a visit back in 2022, the friend who I was traveling with and I hit up Iwashimizu Hachimangu after enjoying the Kawazu-zakura.

Until next time travelers…

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Donny Kimball
Donny Kimball

I'm a travel writer and freelance digital marketer who blogs about the sides of Japan that you can't find in the mainstream media.

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