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Why Maruyama Park is special ?
Maruyama Park (円山公園, Maruyama Kōen) lies behind Yasaka Jinja in the Gion area of south eastern Kyoto, that is about 2km north east of Kyoto Station if you are coming by subway or bus.
Maruyama Park is Kyoto's most famous cherry-blossom viewing (hanami) spot and can get particularly boisterous at night, when revelers enjoy themselves drinking beer and sake under the hundreds of cherry trees in the park in an event known as Gion-no-Yozakura.
A large shidarezakura (weeping cherry tree) stands at the center of the park and is illuminated at night. The tree is over 70 years old and is said to have been grown from a tree that was over 300 years old!
The area which is now Maruyama Koen, was once occupied by several temples that were destroyed by fire. Maruyama Koen was turned into a public park in 1871 in the early Meiji Period and formerly opened to the public in 1886.
What to explore at Maruyama Park?
Maruyama Park is a public park next to Yasaka Shrine in the Higashiyama District. In the first half of April, when the cherry trees are in full bloom, the park becomes Kyoto's most popular and most crowded spot for cherry blossom viewing parties (hanami). The centerpiece of the park is a tall shidarezakura (weeping cherry tree), which gets lit up in the night.
In spring the park is busy with visitors who flock to see the blooming of the more than 1,700 Hokkaido wild cherry trees. At Hokkaido-jingu Shrine on the hillside, there are giant elm and cypress trees where woodpeckers gather, making it a great place for bird watching.
Maruyama Zoo contains an aviary for tropical birds and an insect house. The park contains about 200 species of living things. In winter, the zoo is enveloped in snow, and giraffes and lions walk around in the middle of this snow-covered landscape - a strange and wonderful scene that you cannot see at any other zoo.
How to get to Maruyama Park?
Maruyama Park can be reached by bus from Kyoto Station in about 20 minutes. Take number 100 or 206 and get off at Gion bus stop. The park is just behind Yasaka Shrine.
Alternatively, the park can be reached in a 15+ minute walk from Kiyomizudera through the narrow lanes of the Higashiyama District.