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Cherry Blossom Report 2011
Official cherry blossom reports by japan-guide.com

This year's cherry blossom season will be overshadowed by the tremendous loss caused by the recent earthquake. However, we believe that the blossoms will serve as symbols of hope and resilience and a source of motivation along Japan's road to recovery. With this in mind, we never hesitated to go ahead with our annual reports in order to inform travelers in Japan and readers across the world about this year's cherry blossom season.

2011 Cherry Blossom Forecast - Schedule of upcoming reports - Post your own report
Popular cherry blossom spots - How to do hanami? - Cherry tree varieties

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2011/03/28 - Himeji Report
by schauwecker

Himeji Castle under renovation

Himeji Castle
March 28, 2011 - about to open

Generally considered the best surviving original castle in Japan, Himeji Castle, is currently and for another four years undergoing extensive renovation works to its roof and walls. Consequently, the entire main castle keep is covered up by a huge scaffold structure.

According to the Weather Association, cherry blossoms around the castle are forecast to start opening from tomorrow. Indeed, I was not able to discover a single open blossom among the hundreds of somei yoshino cherry trees on the castle grounds today.

Closed cherry trees in front of covered up Himeji Castle

Many trees, while quite advanced, did not look like they would start opening from tomorrow, but rather would require another two or three days. In any case, full bloom is likely to be reached sometime next week.

Buds on one of the more advanced trees

I did not come to Himeji for photos of a covered up castle and cherry buds alone. I made the trip with the additional purpose of checking out the new observation deck which opened in the scaffold structure two days ago, allowing tourists to observe the renovation works.

Due to the limited capacity of the observation deck, waiting times should be expected on busy days, especially on weekends and during the cherry blossom season. In order to reduce waiting times, note that it is possible to make advance reservations for specific time slots over the internet. Today, on a regular Monday, waiting times were minimal.

A steady stream of visitors enters the castle on this Monday morning
Right after entering, visitors without reservations pick up a numbered ticket
Entrance to the scaffold structure
Waiting area for the elevators to the observation deck
There are two observation decks on the 7th and 8th floor with views onto the castle and city
The windows onto the castle were somewhat smaller than I expected
The observation deck on the 8th floor allows for views onto the roof being renovated
The observation deck on the 7th floor allows for views onto the walls and roof being renovated

Not only was the observation deck newly opened two days ago, but also the interior of the castle keep was partially re-opened after a one-year closure. Currently, it is possible to view the lower three of the castle's six floors from the inside. Depending on the state of renovation works, more or fewer floors (sometimes none) will be open to tourists over the coming three years.

Only a limited number of visitors are allowed into the castle keep at one time, which can again result in waiting times, especially on weekends. No advance reservations are possible here.

Cones for crowd control in the interior of Himeji Castle
Access beyond the third floor is currently not possible
The look out of the windows does not reveal the city as usual
Otherwise, the interior is just as usual

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List of Posts:
2011/05/09 - Sapporo Report
2011/05/06 - Hakodate Report
2011/05/02 - Kakunodate Report
2011/05/01 - Hirosaki Report
2011/04/29 - Kitakami Report
2011/04/22 - Aizu Report
2011/04/21 - Sendai Report
2011/04/20 - Fujigoko Report
2011/04/19 - Tokyo Report
2011/04/16 - Kyoto Report
2011/04/15 - Osaka Report
2011/04/14 - Tokyo Report
2011/04/14 - Kanazawa Report
2011/04/13 - Yoshino Report
2011/04/12 - Kyoto Report
2011/04/12 - Okayama Report
2011/04/11 - Tokyo Report
2011/04/11 - Takamatsu Report
2011/04/10 - Osaka Report
2011/04/10 - Matsuyama Report
2011/04/09 - Kyoto Report
2011/04/08 - Tokyo Report
2011/04/08 - Yoshino Report
2011/04/07 - Hiroshima Report
2011/04/07 - Iwakuni Report
2011/04/07 - Nagoya Report
2011/04/06 - Kyoto Report
2011/04/05 - Tokyo Report
2011/04/04 - Kyoto Report
2011/04/03 - Fukuoka Report
2011/04/02 - Tokyo Report
2011/04/01 - Kyoto Report
2011/04/01 - Kagoshima Report
2011/03/31 - Kumamoto Report
2011/03/31 - Fukuoka Report
2011/03/30 - Tokyo Report
2011/03/30 - Kochi Report
2011/03/29 - Kyoto Report
2011/03/28 - Himeji Report
2011/03/27 - Tokyo Report