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Official cherry blossom reports by japan-guide.com
- 2015 Cherry Blossom Forecast
- Schedule of upcoming reports

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2015/03/31 - Kyoto Report
by raina

Moving away from Kyushu, I'll be continuing to bring you the latest updates from the Kansai Region this week. Scott was in Tokyo, and according to his report from yesterday, the cherry blossoms are well at their peak (mankai) there and should stay at their best for the next few days. Other cities that have reached mankai status as of today include Yokohama, Nara, Nagasaki and Kumamoto, while Fukui and Kanazawa along the Sea of Japan, saw the opening of their first blossoms (kaika) today.

Kyoto on the other hand had the opening on the first blossoms (kaika) on March 27, four days ago, and is expected to reach mankai this week thanks to the recent warm weather. Cherry blossoms take about a week on average to develop from kaika to full bloom (mankai), and will usually last for another week at mankai before the petals start to fall. Note that how long the blossoms stay at their peak is largely dependent on the weather conditions with strong winds and rain shortening the peak viewing period.

Arashiyama
March 31, 2015 - opening (10-50%)

My first stop for today was Arashiyama where the cherry trees near Katsuragawa River had at slightly more flower buds than open blossoms when I was there this morning. However, I expect more buds to have opened by the end of today thanks to the warm (almost summer temperature) and sunny weather. Some trees in the area are more developed than others and were beautiful to see, but it would be another few more days of warm weather before the cherry trees at Arashiyama reach their peak. I also saw a handful of tourists there early and taking advantage of space around the blossoms before the shops were open and more people arrived.

Cherry trees near the river
Close up of the blossoms
Cherry trees in the nearby park
Cherry tree cluster on the side of the mountain
Weeping cherry tree almost at full bloom
Later flowering weeping cherry tree with more buds than blossoms
Train pulling into the station

Kiyomizudera
March 31, 2015 - approaching full bloom (50-80%)

My next stop for the day was the popular Kiyomizudera, where everyone seemed to be. The cherry trees there not yet at their peak but it would not be long before they reach full bloom. The weeping cherry trees along the northern side of the temple were also progressing well and are in their early stages of bloom. The temple is lit in the evenings from 18:00 to 21:00 until April 12. Entrance in the daytime ends at 17:30 and evening entrance starts from 18:00 and costs 400 yen, slightly more than the regular entrance fees.

View of Kiyomizudera and some cherry trees below it
Close up of the blossoms
Visitors snapping pictures of the blossoms with the pagoda

Maruyama Koen
March 31, 2015 - approaching full bloom (50-80%)

A short stroll from Kiyomizudera down Ninenzaka past Kodaiji Temple is Maruyama Park, and the large weeping cherry tree on its grounds was at full bloom when I was there. The cherry trees there were on their way to reaching their peak and it was a pleasure to stroll in the park. While large blue picnic mats may be ubiquitous with the cherry blossom season, they are banned at Maruyama Park. Instead, smaller straw mats are laid out on the grounds and I saw many visitors sitting on the straw mats spread out in the different areas enjoying the warm weather and relaxing. The large weeping cherry tree is illuminated from sunset to 1:00 in the morning everyday until April 12, while little lamps light the park from sunset to 23:00 until April 5.

Iconic weeping cherry tree in Maruyama Park at full bloom
Close up of the blossoms
Enjoying the weather and blossoms on straw mats
Enjoying food and drinks in the park

Nijo Castle
March 31, 2015 - approaching full bloom (50-80%)

My final stop for today was Nijo Castle, which was used as the official Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shogunate before becoming the property of the Imperial family in 1867. The property is huge with gardens surrounding the palace buildings. The main entrance into the castle is currently under construction and will be until spring 2017, but it does not affect nor disrupt the viewing of the palace itself or the view of the flowers. The cherry trees along the southern end of the castle are almost at their peak and I joined the other visitors in capturing the open blossoms. The weeping cherry trees on the western and northern ends of the castle were just opened with mostly flower buds and only a handful of blossoms per tree. The evening light up of the gardens on the castle grounds is from 18:00 to 21:30 (entry until 21:00), costs 400 yen and will run till April 12.

Almost full bloom at the cherry tree garden at the southern end of the castle grounds
Weeping cherry trees on the western end of the castle grounds
Close up of the weeping cherry blossoms
Different cherry tree varieties in the garden
Kyoto specialities on sale inside the castle compound
Matching sakura hairclip for the cherry blossom season

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List of Posts:
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Report
2015/04/29 - Hakodate Report
2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Report
2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Report
2015/04/21 - Kitakami Report
2015/04/16 - Sendai Report
2015/04/16 - Fujigoko Report
2015/04/15 - Kyoto Report
2015/04/14 - Yoshino Report
2015/04/13 - Takizakura Report
2015/04/10 - Himeji Report
2015/04/10 - Takada Report
2015/04/09 - Tokyo Report
2015/04/09 - Kyoto Report
2015/04/08 - Fukushima Report
2015/04/08 - Matsumoto Report
2015/04/07 - Yoshino Report
2015/04/06 - Tokyo Report
2015/04/06 - Kyoto Report
2015/04/05 - Okayama Report
2015/04/04 - Hiroshima Report
2015/04/03 - Kyoto Report
2015/04/03 - Nagoya Report
2015/04/02 - Tokyo Report
2015/04/02 - Nara Report
2015/04/01 - Osaka Report
2015/04/01 - Kumagaya Report
2015/03/31 - Kyoto Report
2015/03/30 - Tokyo Report
2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Report
2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Report
2015/03/25 - Tokyo Report