OWL Magazine Korea

Kyoto Gion, Maruyama Park

Moving east from Yasaka Shrine, the venue for the Gion Matsuri festival, you’ll encounter a vast park known as Maruyama Park, spanning 26,000 square meters. Established in 1886, it is Kyoto’s oldest park, featuring a walking path connecting a pond, a flowing stream, a tea ceremony-style garden, fountains, and an outdoor music hall.

“Japanese Spring: Enjoying the Weeping Cherry Blossoms”

This park is particularly famous and popular during spring. From mid-March to mid-April, the park attracts numerous visitors from all over Japan who come to see around 680 cherry blossom trees, including the iconic shidarezakura (weeping cherry blossoms). During this period, the park becomes a lively and romantic setting with numerous food stalls enhancing the festive atmosphere.

“Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintaro Statues”

Within the park, you can find statues of Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintaro. Sakamoto Ryoma was a prominent figure during the late Edo period, leaving a significant impact on modern Japanese history and remains a highly popular historical figure in Japan.

However, detailed records about Sakamoto Ryoma’s life are scarce, as there is no official documentation from the Edo Shogunate, which ruled Japan at that time. The information available comes from records left by those who met Ryoma during his active involvement in Japanese politics and from letters he sent to his family. The lack of precise records has allowed for much speculation, leading to creative interpretations in novels and dramas.

Sakamoto Ryoma is currently regarded as one of the most beloved historical figures among the Japanese. In a 2019 poll of 12,000 people aged 10 to 60 in Japan, he ranked second by only 12 votes, following Oda Nobunaga. The top ten rankings were as follows:

  • Oda Nobunaga: 1,059 votes
  • Sakamoto Ryoma: 1,047 votes
  • Sugihara Chiune: 603 votes
  • Prince Shotoku: 582 votes
  • Sanada Nobushige: 561 votes
  • Date Masamune: 508 votes
  • Uesugi Kenshin: 458 votes
  • Tokugawa Ieyasu: 440 votes
  • Hijikata Toshizo: 426 votes
  • Kuroda Yoshitaka: 380 votes

“Exploring Maruyama Park on a September Trip to Japan”

During my visit to Kyoto in 2018, I arrived too late to explore Maruyama Park after visiting Yasaka Shrine, opting instead for Sanneizaka and Ninnenizaka. However, this time, having visited Yasaka Shrine during the daytime, I took the opportunity to explore Maruyama Park, conveniently connected to the shrine.

Despite being late September, the daytime temperatures in Japan ranged from 28 to 30 degrees Celsius, and by evening, it dropped to a comfortable 24 degrees with a refreshing breeze. This made it an ideal time for a pleasant stroll in the park as the sun set.

After a brief walk in Maruyama Park, I had enough time to move on and enjoy an evening meal.

“Japan Kyoto Gion, Maruyama Park”

  • Address: Maruyamacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto 605-0071, Japan
  • Phone: +81755611778
  • Website: Maruyama Park
  • Operating Hours: 24 hours