Kyoto's Hirano Shrine is not on the A-list of temples and shrines in the World Heritage Site-heavy city.
It is however a pleasant shrine that is worth a visit.
The shrine is long in history and its grounds full of beautiful cherry trees - there are over 80 different varieties, some extremely rare.
Located a ten-minute walk south of the Golden Pavilion, not far from both Ritsumeikan University and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, it is best known for the cherry blossom parties held every year in April.
The first of these hanami parties was held in 985, and they have been held annually ever since. The week of cherry blossoms attracts a number of stalls offering snacks, beer and traditional games for the Hirano-no-Yozakura night cherry blossom viewing.
Hirano itself was founded in 794, though the present buildings date from the early 17th century and are registered as "Important Cultural Properties."
The grounds are free and have a spectacular 400-year-old camphor tree.
By bus from Kyoto Station, take the #205 or #50 to Kinugasa Komae. From Sanjo Keihan, take #15 and get off at the same stop. From Shijo Omiya (Hankyu Railways), take #55 to the same stop.
Tel: 075 461 4450
Hirano Miyamoto-cho 1, Kita-ku, Kyoto 603-8322
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