If you arrived in Kyoto a couple of days too late for the cherry blossoms, don't give up yet. There are ways to enjoy the seasonal spectacle, after all:
Option 1: See late-flowering cherry tree varieties
There are more than a hundred cherry tree varieties in Japan. The large majority of trees bloom usually around late March and early April, but there are a few varieties that bloom several days or weeks earlier and later. In Kyoto, there are a number of hanami spots with many later blooming weeping cherry trees that reach full bloom typically half a week later than the mainstream Somei Yoshino trees. Other spots feature even later blooming varieties that provide nice hanami conditions for several weeks beyond the end of the main season:
Large numbers of later blooming weeping cherry trees (yaebeni shidare) stand in the garden of Heian Shrine behind the shrine's main buildings, making it one of the best spots to see weeping cherry trees in Kyoto. The trees reach full bloom a few days after the other cherry trees, making it an ideal spot for visitors who miss the main season by a few days.
A few days beyond the end of the main season
North of Kinkakuji, 1200 yen (weekdays), 1500 yen (weekends), 9:00 to 17:00
Haradani-en is another excellent spot to enjoy large numbers of later blooming weeping cherry trees. The pleasant garden is located in the northern outskirts of Kyoto in the hills above Kinkakuji Temple. It is a little bit difficult to reach by public transportation by the infrequent city bus number M1 from Kitaoji Station, Kinkakuji-michi or Ritsumeikan University. Alternatively, many visitors access the garden by taxi.
Kyoto Botanical Garden
A few days beyond the end of the main season
A few steps from Kitayama Station (Karasuma Subway Line) Admission: 200 yen; Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:00)
Besides a lot of other flowers, bushes and trees, the Kyoto Botanical Garden contains a beautiful small forest of later blooming weeping cherry trees that is popular for picnics.
A few steps from Omuro Ninnaji Station (Keifuku Kitano Line) Admission: 500 yen (during the cherry blossom season); Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Ninnaji Temple is well known for its locally cultivated variety of late blooming cherry trees known as Omuro Cherry. The Omuro cherry trees tend to bloom about a week after the mainstream Somei Yoshino. There are several hundred trees of them located on the temple grounds.
A few steps from Nijojo-mae Station (Tozai Subway Line) Admission: 600 yen; Hours: 8:45 to 17:00
A wide range of cherry tree varieties on Nijo Castle's spacious grounds result in a long blooming season during most of March and April. For visitors later during the season there is a long row of weeping cherry trees that bloom a few days later than the mainstream cherry trees, and one of the city's largest collections of yae-zakura trees that bloom several weeks beyond the end of the main season.
45-60 minutes from Kyoto in central Osaka Special opening 2016: 4/8 to 4/14, 10:00 to 21:00 (from 9:00 on the weekend) Mint Museum: 9:00 to 16:45 (entry until 16:00); closed on weekends, public holidays, special cherry blossom opening period, day before special opening period
More than 300 trees of over 100 varieties, mostly later blooming yae-zakura trees can be viewed on the premises of the Osaka Mint Bureau. The gates of the garden are opened to the general public for one week in mid April. The garden can also be viewed on the occasion of a visit to the Mint Museum outside of the special opening period.
Option 2: Make a side trip
There are several nearby places at a higher elevation or with an otherwise colder climate where the cherry blossoms bloom a few days or weeks later than in Kyoto. Below are a few destinations where you can see the blossoms in an easy side trip from the city:
Yoshinoyama is often considered Japan's most famous cherry blossom spot. Due to its location in the mountains, the cherry trees there typically start to open about a week later than in Kyoto. Furthermore, the blooming period at Yoshinoyama is prolonged by the fact that the trees are found along a mountain slope, with the upper ones trailing the lower ones by several days.
About one hour east of Kyoto along the JR Biwako Line (more details)
Despite being located only 50 kilometers east of Kyoto, the town of Hikone is exposed to considerably colder weather, resulting in a cherry blossom blooming period that is about one week delayed compared to Kyoto's. The best hanami spot in Hikone is Hikone Castle.