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Cherry Blossom Report 2013
Official cherry blossom reports by japan-guide.com

2013 Cherry Blossom Forecast - Schedule of upcoming reports - Popular cherry blossom spots
How to do hanami? - Cherry tree varieties - Post your own report

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2013/03/24 - Kyoto Report
by scott

Hirano Shrine

Today I returned to Kyoto after spending the last three days reporting on the cherry blossoms around Kyushu. During my previous visit four days ago the blossoms around Kyoto were still very much closed. However in the last few days they have progressed nicely and are now just beginning to open across the city. And although it is still too early to say for sure, I would expect the blossoms to reach full bloom around the first few days of April.

Today I revisited a few sites from my last report, specifically Arashiyama and Maruyama Park, so you'll be able to see some direct comparisons with their statuses four days ago. I also visited a few other popular cherry blossom sites for the first time this year including Hirano Shrine, the Philosopher's Path, the Keage Incline and the Okazaki Canal.

Arashiyama
March 24, 2013 - about to open

Once again I began my day in Arashiyama, a popular sightseeing district in northwest Kyoto. The trees here tend to open slightly later than those around the city center so I wasn't too surprised to find that the trees around the Togetsukyo Bridge and Nakanoshima Park haven't opened yet. They looked like they were almost ready to pop, however, and might even begin to open as soon as this afternoon. Nakanoshima Park will be lit up in the evenings from 18:00 to 22:00 until April 14th.

Togetsukyo Bridge from Nakanoshima Park

The blossoms are getting ready to open

Nakanoshima's weeping cherry tree, which is usually a few days earlier than the other trees, has bloomed

Weeping cherry blossoms

The grove of cherry trees on the way to Hankyu Arashiyama Station, however, is slightly ahead of the more exposed trees along Nakanoshima Park and were just beginning to open.

The grove of cherry trees on the way to Hankyu Arashiyama Station

A few open blossoms

Hirano Shrine
March 24, 2013 - just opened (0-10%)

My second stop of the day was to Hirano Shrine, which lies about a ten minute walk south of Kinkakuji. The shrine is home to nearly 400 trees of over 50 varieties. The reason there is such a wide range is because the shrine served as a sort of cherry blossom repository where court nobles would donate their best trees to be planted.

Considering the large range in tree types, Hirano Shrine has a rather long viewing season that usually lasts for about a month. Currently the somei yoshino trees, the standard type of tree most commonly found at cherry blossom spots in Japan, have only just opened, but several of the earlier opening varities can be seen around the shrine. Some of these have reached full bloom and looked very nice.

The shrine grounds are lit up in the evenings until 21:00 from March 25th to April 20th, and the various blossoms are supposed to be particularly beautiful during the illuminations. Dozens of food stalls are also set up around the shrine, and offer lots of dining platforms from which to enjoy a meal together with the blossoms. Hirano Shrine will hold its annual cherry blossom festival on April 10th.

Hirano Shrine

The somei yoshino blossoms at Hirano Shrine

Cherry trees and food stalls

An early blooming weeping cherry tree

Philosopher's Path
March 24, 2013 - just opened (0-10%)

The Philosopher's Path is a two kilometer long, paved trail along a canal that connects Ginkakuji with the area around Nanzenji. The canal is lined by several hundred cherry trees and their blossoms can be enjoyed you walk along the path.

Today the cherry trees along the Philosopher's Path look like they have only just begun to open, and only a few blossoms could be seen on one in every few dozen trees. Like the rest of the city, the trees along the path probably won't reach full bloom until the first few days of April.

Philosopher's Path

The blossoms have only just opened along the Philosopher's Path

Keage Incline and the Okazaki Canal
March 24, 2013 - just opened (0-10%)

The Keage Incline and Okazaki Canal are part of an old canal system that was originally built during the early Meiji Period as a means of transporting goods through the city. The Keage Incline, in particular, was used as late as 1951 to transport boats between canals of different elevations. Today the rail system along the incline is no longer in use, and the gentle slope has become a popular cherry blossom spot.

Only a few of the 100 or so cherry trees that line the slope were beginning to blossom, and it will still be about a week before the area really gets going.

The Keage Incline

Only a few trees along the Keage Incline had open blossoms

The Okazaki Canal runs from the base of the Keage Incline past the Kyoto Zoo and the entrance to Heian Shrine. The canal is also lined by cherry trees, which were at a similar state as the trees along the Incline. Boat tours will operate along the canal from March 30th to May 6th from 9:30 to 16:30. The boats will extend their operating hours to 20:30 from March 30th to April 21st during the Okazaki Canal's light up event.

The blossoms along the Okazaki Canal

Maruyama Park
March 24, 2013 - just opened (0-10%)

My final stop today was a revisit to Maruyama Park. In contrast to earlier this week the trees around the park have begun to open and the nice weather drew out lots of visitors. From now I would only expect it to get more and more crowded as the blossoms continue their march toward full bloom.

Maruyama Park - looks like those roped off areas will persist through the cherry blossom season

Maruyama Park's blossoms are beginning to open

Only one of the outdoor food vendors has opened in the park so far as the others continued to prepare for the season

The park's large weeping cherry tree has also opened and is progressing nicely. It will be illuminated in the evenings from sunset to 25:00 until April 14th.

The large weeping cherry tree at the center of the park

Weeping cherry blossoms

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List of Posts:
2013/05/09 - Hakodate Report
2013/05/08 - Matsumae Report
2013/05/02 - Hirosaki Report
2013/05/01 - Kakunodate Report
2013/04/30 - Kitakami Report
2013/04/18 - Sendai Report
2013/04/17 - Takayama Report
2013/04/15 - Fukushima Report
2013/04/12 - Matsumoto Report
2013/04/11 - Kyoto Report
2013/04/10 - Mount Fuji Report
2013/04/10 - Hakone Report
2013/04/10 - Kanazawa Report
2013/04/09 - Yoshino Report
2013/04/08 - Kyoto Report
2013/04/08 - Tokyo Report
2013/04/05 - Mount Fuji Report
2013/04/04 - Kyoto Report
2013/04/04 - Gunma Report
2013/04/03 - Takamatsu Report
2013/04/02 - Osaka Report
2013/04/02 - Hiroshima Report
2013/04/01 - Tokyo Report
2013/04/01 - Kyoto Report
2013/03/29 - Tokyo Report
2013/03/28 - Gunma Report
2013/03/28 - Kyoto Report
2013/03/27 - Osaka Report
2013/03/27 - Fukuoka Report
2013/03/26 - Nagoya Report
2013/03/26 - Kamakura Report
2013/03/26 - Okayama Report
2013/03/25 - Tokyo Report
2013/03/24 - Kyoto Report
2013/03/23 - Kagoshima Report
2013/03/22 - Kumamoto Report
2013/03/21 - Tokyo Report
2013/03/21 - Fukuoka Report
2013/03/20 - Kyoto Report
2013/03/17 - Tokyo Report
2013/03/12 - Tokyo Report
2013/02/28 - Kawazu Report