Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

April 6, 2014

Cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto, 2014 (Incline and Okazaki Park)

One of the best cherry blossom viewing spots in Kyoto is the Incline near Keage (on the Tozai subway line), the pass through the Higashiyama hills connecting Kyoto with Yamashina, near the Westin Miyako Hotel and Nanzenji temple.


The Lake Biwa Canal - which brings water from Lake Biwa to Kyoto and in the Meiji-period was also used for shipping - comes here out of the tunnel bored in the hills and then has to cope with a sharp drop of 36 meters. The water passes through large pipes and the natural force with which it drops down was used in Meiji times to drive the first hydro-electric plant in Japan.

[The Incline with the rails over which the boats navigating the Lake Biwa Canal were transported on railway carts]

The flat-bottomed boats which carried goods between Kyoto and Lake Biwa were put on railway carts on the slope and pulled up and down between the points where the canal ended and started again.


The slope over which the rail carts were pulled was called "the Incline." Together with the Lake Biwa Canal Museum, the hydro-electric plant and the slope with its rails, carts and even models of the boats it has now become an industrial museum. Please see my more detailed post about the Incline and Lake Biwa Canal Museum.

[The Lake Biwa Canal at Okazaki]

The incline has been planted with cherry trees, like nearby Okazaki Park, where the canal starts again, running along the Kyoto zoo and the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. On top of the Incline is a small park with a statue of the young engineer who designed the canal and power plant, Tanabe Sakuro. The Incline seems to be less crowded than other blossom spots and the cherry trees, against the green background of the Nanzenji grounds, are beautiful.

[The torii of the Heian Shrine in Okazaki]