Heian Shrine (Heian Jingu 平安神宮) is a Shinto shrine and it is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot in Kyoto. Every year, Heian Shrine hosts a night sakura (yozakura 夜桜) classical music concert known as the ‘Benishidare Concert 紅しだれコンサート’ when its cherry trees are at their best. This year, I had the good fortune of going for the concert. It was a truly surreal experience to be surrounded with the beautiful sakura flowers and wonderful music.
I had visited this place in back in 2013 but I was too early for the weeping cherry blossoms (benishidare 紅しだれ) as these trees tend to flower later than the popular white somei yoshino sakura. Please click here to refer to my earlier post to see the day time view of Heian Shrine.
It wasn’t easy trying to find information on the Benishidare Concert. I did a search on Google (English language) and also on Heian Shrine’s official website but not much information was found. I resorted to searching in Japanese (keywords: 平安神宮紅しだれコンサート) and ‘bingo’!! I finally found the information in Kyoto’s newspaper website. (Unfortunately the information is purely in Japanese, so you could get the help of someone who can read the language or trust Google translate :P) In the website, it stated that early bird tickets could be bought through some places. I didn’t want to run into a situation of sold out tickets so I bought mine through Lawson (convenience store chain in Japan) using a ticketing machine. Early tickets are also cheaper at 1700 yen (usual price 2000 yen), but of course there is a small handling fee of around 100 yen so the savings is around 200 yen per ticket if you buy yours early.
For 2014, the concert lasted for 4 nights (10 to 13 April) and there were different musicians. For the first 2 days, it was traditional Japanese flute (Hichiriki) played by Hideki Togi (東儀秀樹). For the next 2 days, it was a quartet of 4 young girls playing string instruments. I went for the traditional Japanese flute concert. 🙂
There are 2 sessions for the concert: 1st session from 6.40pm to 7.20pm / 2nd session from 7.50pm to 8.30pm. The ticket allows you to go for both sessions. It’s an open air concert and there are no seats. Basically, music will be played at the stated time slots and you can hear the music all around the sakura garden or around the main pond where the concert stage is located. The doors to the shrine opened at 6.15pm for concert goers. I had rushed to Kyoto from Hiroshima and I only managed to reach around 6.20pm. Just nice, the doors opened when I reached. Boy, it was crowded!!
I’ve seen night sakura at a couple of places in Kyoto and Osaka. However, I have to say that the night sakura blooms at Heian Shrine are one of the best I’ve seen so far! There were just so many flowers that it formed a thick canopy and blocked out the night sky. No photos will ever do justice to the beauty of this place as photos cannot capture just how overwhelming the amount of flowers are!
And the next view that greeted me, took my breath away….. Many people stood still and were silently looking at the sight in front of them….
That’s not all. The best is still YET to come. Remember? I came for a concert which I have not spoke about yet? What I introduced is the sakura tree garden. At this point in time, the 1st session of the concert had already started. So I was strolling through the beautiful sakura trees and enjoying the music which was piped through the entire garden. The main concert is around a pond, which is at another part of the shrine.
Ahhh…. finally… the pond area where the concert stage is found. Sakura trees lined the edge of the pond and pretty reflections everywhere! Oh, so beautiful!!!
Great music, breathtaking views. Unforgettable memories. 🙂
I’ll leave you to enjoy some of the YouTube videos which I took of the concert. It’s in HD, so feel free to switch it to high resolution mode. Enjoy!
2. ハナミズキ (Hanami zuki)
Usual Opening Hours: 0600 to 1730 (seasonal) / Admission: Free / No closing days
Benishidare Concert: Concert dates depend on the annual sakura season. Please search for information on the internet.
Heian Shrine Garden
Opening Hours: 0800 to 1700 (seasonal) / Admission: 600 yen / No closing days
How to Get There
Address: ９７ Okazaki Nishitennocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8341, Japan
By Bus: Take bus 5 or 100 from Kyoto Station (220 yen, around half hour)
By Subway: 10min walk from Higashiyama Station