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Video Introduction: Keage Incline

This video, titled "[A Famous Cherry Blossom Spot in Kyoto] The Keage Incline and Cherry Blossoms (Kyoto, Japan)" (【京都 桜の名所】蹴上インクラインの桜: The Keage Incline and Cherry Blossom(Kyoto, Japan)), was created by "Anna Film Production."

The Keage Incline is a popular spot where visitors can walk along an abandoned railroad and take dramatic photos that resemble something you'd see in a movie. When the cherry blossom season arrives in Japan, you can enjoy viewing the quaint pink blossoms while walking along the railroad. In this video you can get an idea of what a calm and quiet Kyoto spring is like… It's almost as if time seems to slow down.
[Video] 1:41 - Walking Along the Abandoned Railroad

What is Keage Incline?

Image of Keage Incline, Higashiyama, Kyoto
Photo:Keage Incline, Higashiyama, Kyoto

Keage Incline is a 582-meter-long inclined railroad connecting Keage Port (蹴上船溜, Keage Funadamari), the upper section of the canal, and Nanzenji Port (南禅寺船溜, Nanzenji Funadamari), the lower section of the canal. In 1891, when it was built, it was the longest railroad in the world. To overcome the nearly 36-meter-difference in height, boats were placed on the track so that they could carry cargo without unloading it, using the same principle as a cable car. Today, only the tracks are preserved in their original condition.

Keage Incline is known as a famous spot for sakura (cherry blossoms). We recommend take your time to walk along them when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. You can also enjoy them at night when they're lit up.
[Video] 1:20 - Cherry Blossoms Blooming on Both Sides of the Railroad

When is the best time to see the cherry blossoms on the Keage Incline? What are the highlights?

The cherry blossoms on the Keage Incline usually bloom from late March to early April, but in 2023 they will start blooming earlier than usual and be in full bloom around March 27.

The expected bloom date for 2024 in Kyoto is around March 23, and the expected full bloom date is around April 1.There are approximately 90 Someiyoshino cherry trees on both sides of the slope at Keage Incline. Consider visiting "Rails and Sakura" (レールと桜) as well. This place is unique as it allows visitors to take photos with cherry blossoms the railroad at the same time. Couples and girls wearing kimono can often be seen posing for Instagram photos here.

The area around the rail is still paved with stones from when it was originally used as a railroad, so it may be a bit difficult to walk around. Be sure to watch your step when enjoy the lovely views!

Suirokaku, an Ancient Aqueduct and Popular Instagram Spot Near Nanzenji Temple

Image of Surokaku Aqueduct, Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto
Photo:Surokaku Aqueduct, Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto

Besides Keage Incline, Nanzenji Temple's Suirokaku is a popular spot for taking Instagram photos. Suirokaku is a 93.2-meter-long aqueduct bridge. It's located 1 minute from Nanzenji Temple's Lecture Hall. The bridge is made of bricks which give it a historical atmosphere.

We recommend taking pictures below the bridge, as the series of arches make it incredibly photogenic. Because it matches the historic scenery, many women in kimonos can be seen taking pictures here. People also pose for pictures, as it is possible to take magazine- and poster-like photos below the bridge.

Since this is a popular spot not only for domestic tourists but also for tourists from overseas, it can be crowded with many people during fall when the autumn leaves are in season. If you want to take pictures undisturbed, early morning is your best bet.

Things To Do Around Keage Incline – Nanzenji Temple, Himukai Daijingu Shrine, etc.

Image of Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto
Photo:Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto

After taking in the views at Keage Incline, there's also plenty of things to do in the area. Here are some recommended sightseeing spots:

◆Nanzenji Temple
This temple is one of the most prestigious Zen temples in Japan. Among the Kyoto Gozan (Five Great Zen Temples of Kyoto), Nanzenji Temple is special. The temple is lined with pagodas and buildings famous from "Sanmon," a legend of Ishikawa Goemon, a legendary Kabuki character. The Hojo Garden by Enshu Kobori, is one of the best-known dry landscape gardens of the early Edo period and is as National Place of Scenic Beauty. You can also experience Zen meditation here, but be sure to make reservations in advance. In addition, the autumn leaves here are breathtaking in the fall!

◆Himukai Daijingu Shrine
Like Ise Jingu Shrine, Himukai Daijingu Shrine enshrines the deity Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess) and has an inner shrine and an outer shrine. The main attractions include the Shinmei-zukuri shrine pavilions and "Amano-Iwato" (Cave of Heaven), which is known as a power spot. Passing through the shrine is said to bring good luck and ward off bad luck. The shrine is also known as a place where travelers on the Tokaido Highway prayed for safety on their way to and from the shrine, and is therefore blessed with good luck in transportation. The autumn foliage is beautiful here as well, making it another recommended spot to visit during the fall.

Image of Otenmon Gate, Heian Jingu Shrine, Kyoto
Photo:Otenmon Gate, Heian Jingu Shrine, Kyoto

◆Heian Jingu Shrine
At 24.4 meters tall, the Otorii Gate on Jingu-do Street at Heian Jingu Shrine is one of the tallest in Japan. On a clear day, the contrast between the blue sky and the vivid vermilion color makes for beautiful photographs. Otenmon Gate, located straight ahead from Otorii Gate, is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan for its beautifully vivid vermillion lacquer.

◆Philosopher's Path
Philosopher's Path is a 2km-long-walkway connecting Ginkakuji Temple (The Silver Pavilion) and Nanzenji Temple. The name is derived from Kitaro Nishida, a professor of Kyoto University and early-20th century Japanese philosopher. He used to walk along this path contemplating a myriad of things every day, thus the path came to be known as "Philosopher's Path." The canal along the path is the Lake Biwa Canal, which is drawn from the largest lake in Japan, Lake Biwa. The river near this path, Shirakawa River, flows from north to south according to its elevation, but the man-made Lake Biwa Canal flows from south to north. Beautiful cherry blossoms in spring, gorgeous autumn leaves in autumn…Visitors can a nice walk while enjoying the beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring and autumn leaves in the fall, and there are many temples and shrines to explore in the area, such as Honen-in Temple, Anraku-ji Temple, and Otoyo Shrine, all of which are worth seeing.

Summary of Keage Incline

Currently, Keage Incline is opened as a tourist attraction. Its disused railroad tracks are very photogenic! If you're sightseeing in Kyoto, especially during cherry blossom season, be sure to check it out. Enjoy the cherry blossoms, but be sure to mind your step! Also, if you get tired, consider taking a rest at one of the many restaurants or cafes in the area. The udon and boiled tofu is quite delicious. Enjoy spring in Kyoto, Japan to your heart's content!

【TripAdvisor】Keage Incline

Written By
Last Updated : Apr. 2, 2024
山田コウスケ(Kosuke Yamada)
Born in Fukuoka Prefecture. I enjoy grabbing drinks and making travel plans.
Keage Incline – Cherry Blossoms Along a Disused Railroad in Kyoto + Nanzenji Temple and Other Attractions in the Area
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