Me and the wifey was very lucky to have a booking at a very nice Ryokan in Kyoto, a friend gave us the room as he had to be elsewhere. What perfect timing it was! Sakura full bloom right after Tokyo, boom! Although the weather was rainy, I still managed to get some very nice moody shots of the sakura against the classic Kyoto architecture. Needless to say it was a photographers paradise.
I usually like to avoid all the touristy areas and start shooting from sunrise to avoid the crowds. There's nothing worse than overcrowded scenes, no matter how beautiful it is overcrowding just destroys not only the mood but also the ambience. It really does pay off to sleep extra early so you can start walking around landmarks before everyone else. Plus you have kick ass lighting in the morning so I highly recommend it if you aren't already!
Our ryokan was right next to the Kiyomisu dera so we were basically walking distance to most of the famous spots. The temple is constantly under construction with scaffolding covering the main building so we just skipped it. Heian jingu is a beautiful shrine with manicured gardens, this is a very popular site so I recommend visiting first thing in the morning. Nanzenji is another beautiful temple complex with very impressive architecture, also gets quite crowded but still worth a visit. We stopped by Keage, which has a beautiful abandoned train track lined with sakura but it was completely swamped with people so we gave up right away and just went to look at other places instead.
Every time I visit Kyoto I discover more things I love about the city, we came across the coolest cafe called % Arabica near the Kiyomisu dera. The coffee was one of the best I've had in my life and the interior design was so fresh and clean. They have three branches all in Kyoto and are expanding all over the world this year. Highly recommend checking it out! I also got to see my friend's jewelry workshop in Kyoto all the way up into the mountains in Kurama. An Ozzy who's been in Japan for over 30 years! He mainly works with opals and colored diamonds and uses skilled Japanese artisans to design his collection. His company is called Dreamtime, named after the aboriginal's concept of the past, present and future exists at once. Check it out if you are into precious gem stones, PM me if you want a discount :)