by Francois, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2009/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
April 5, 2009 - opening (10-50%)
Yoshinoyama ("Yoshino mountain") is arguably Japan's most famous spot for cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms of Yoshinoyama are of such high national renown that the area has lent its name to Japan's most popular cherry tree variety, the Somei Yoshino. There are estimated to be 30,000 cherry trees on the mountain, most of which are of the Shiroyama Sakura variety.
The trees are divided into 4 sections: the Shimo Senbon ("lower 1000 trees") at the base of the mountain, Naka Senbon ("middle 1000 trees"), Kami Senbon ("upper 1000 trees") and Oku Senbon ("inner 1000 trees"). A walking trail leads up through the sections, but there are also some other forms of transportation available, such as cablecars and buses. The beginning of the walk is busy with many shops, but higher up there is less activity and development.
Because of recent cold weather, the trees at Yoshinoyama are still not very developed. As can be expected, the higher the elevation, the less developed the cherry trees become.
The trees in the Shimo Senbon are naturally the most impressive, and about 40% to 50% of the blossoms in the area have opened. In the Naka Senbon area slightly further up, there are still many impressive trees to be found, but many others have hardly opened. About 25% of the trees in the area have opened.
The two areas higher up have very few cherry blossoms to see. The trees of the Kami Senbon area have just opened, and less than 10% of their flowers are open. The trees of the Oku Senbon, located in a valley higher up, have not opened yet.