Francois' Japan Blog
by Francois, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2010/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto

A train at the Hankyu Arashiyama Station, surrounded by flowers

Though the japan-guide staff has made five previous visits to Kyoto during this year's cherry blossom season, this is my first time reporting from the city. When Schauwecker last visited on April 4 many trees were at full bloom. Most of the trees remain at full bloom, but with every strong gust of wind more petals are taken to the ground, so I think that many trees will be beyond the peak by this weekend. Nonetheless, there should still be a fair amount of flowers on the trees, and there are also many spots in the city that are famous for their late blooming cherry trees.

Arashiyama
April 7, 2010 - petals starting to fall

I began the day in Arashiyama, entering the area from the Hankyu Arashiyama Station in the south. I gradually walked through Nakanoshima Park and across the Togetsukyo Bridge before leaving from the Keifuku Arashiyama Station to visit some more centrally located spots. Without travelling too far into the area I was able to see a lot of nice trees, especially in Nakanoshima Park.

Cherry trees colour the hillside behind the Togetsukyo Bridge

The cherry trees at Arashiyama are presently at full bloom, and should remain so for a few more days. The trees have not lost too many petals yet, so the flowers seem to be still quite strongly attached to the branches. Nonetheless, the petals are indeed starting to fall, so the number of cherry blossoms at Arashiyama will continue to decline.

A close-up of blossoms in Arashiyama
Cherry trees are at full bloom in Nakanoshima Park

Ninnaji Temple
April 7, 2010 - about to open

Ninnaji Temple is famous for a particular species of cherry tree called omuro sakura that blooms later than most other cherry trees. There is a grove of omuro trees on the temple grounds that is composed of about 200 trees, and there are tables scattered among them for cherry blossom viewers.

A pagoda of Ninnaji Temple seen from the bare grove of omuro cherry trees
Buds of omuro cherry trees about to open at Ninnaji Temple

The omuro trees are just opening, and there are only a handful of trees that are showing any open flowers at all. With good weather the flowers should be approaching full bloom in a week.

Empty tables in Ninnaji's grove of omuro trees

There are quite a few other cherry trees at Ninnaji Temple scattered about the temple grounds. The somei yoshino trees are at full bloom, and can be found throughout the temple, and there are quite a few of them in the temple's north-western area.

A somei yoshino tree at Ninnaji Temple

Philosopher's Path
April 7, 2010 - petals starting to fall

In the afternoon I went to see the state of the cherry blossoms at a couple of sites in Eastern Kyoto, starting with the Philosopher's Path. The path stretches about two kilometers along a small canal and there are cherry trees almost the entire length of the walk.

Branches of cherry trees hang over the Philosopher's Path

When Scott last visited the site on April 2 the trees were approaching full bloom. Since that time full bloom has been reached and the area was still at full bloom when I visited today. However, the petals are falling quite consistently along the path, so it is likely that within the next couple days many sections of the path will be beyond the peak of the cherry blossom season.

Cherry Blossoms at the Philosopher's Path

One surprise I found today was that a large section of the walkway is closed until next year. Beginning at the north, for almost a quarter of the path the stone walkway directly beside the canal is closed off to visitors. Because of damage to the trees beside the canal, the city has decided to let them recover for a year. For the closed section of the path, visitors must walk on a small road just beside that is lined with shops. The cherry trees still hang overhead and I did not find that the closure had a dramatic effect on the enjoyment of the area.

Heian Shrine
April 7, 2010 - approaching full bloom (50-80%)

From the southern end of the Philosopher's Path I walked for about 15 minutes to my last destination of the day, Heian Shrine. In terms of cherry blossoms, the shrine is most famous for the beni shidare cherry trees in the gardens behind the main shrine building. These cherry trees are a late blooming variety compared to the somei yoshino trees, and have the long drooping branches of the shidare (weeping) cherry trees. The colour of the beni shidare's blossoms is also worth noting, as it is darker than most other cherry blossoms.

The drooping branches of the Beni Shidare trees hang over a busy pond side path

When Schauwecker visited the shrine three days ago on April 4 many of the beni shidare trees had just over 50% of their flowers open, and Schauwecker predicted the flowers to be at full bloom within three days with warm weather. Since there was a bit of cold weather, the trees are just before full bloom and should pass the 80% mark tomorrow.

Attractive flowers of the beni shidare trees

Also starting tomorrow are four consecutive nights of evening illuminations in the gardens that include live music. The entry during the illumination period is 2000 yen and it runs from 18:15 to 21:00. There will be a man playing the ocarina on Thursday and Friday, a guitarist on Saturday, and a pianist on Sunday.

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List of Posts:
2011/09/01 - Final Post
2011/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sapporo
2011/05/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2011/04/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Aizu
2011/04/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2011/04/16 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2011/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2011/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2011/04/13 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2011/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2011/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2011/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2011/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2011/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2011/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kagoshima
2011/03/31 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2011/03/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2011/02/11 - Shiretoko Fantasia 2011
2011/02/11 - Asahikawa Winter Festival - by night
2011/02/10 - Asahikawa Winter Festival - by day
2011/02/09 - Sapporo Snow Festival 2011 - by night
2011/02/08 - Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi 2011
2011/02/07 - Sapporo Snow Festival 2011 - by day

2010/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2010
2010/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2010/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/24 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/23 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2010/11/05 - Autumn Color Report: Yamadera
2010/10/27 - Autumn Color Report: Kuju
2010/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kirishima
2010/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2010/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2010/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2010/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2010/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2010/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2010/03/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2010/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2010/03/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagasaki
2010/03/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2010/03/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2010/01/23 - Wakakusa Yamayaki

2009/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2009
2009/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2009/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Light Up
2009/11/23 - Autumn Color Report: Nara
2009/11/22 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Ohara
2009/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2009/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Higashiyama
2009/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Kurama
2009/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Hakone
2009/10/07 - Autumn Color Report: Hachimantai
2009/10/06 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Akita-Komagatake
2009/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kamikochi
2009/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2009/06/18 - Biking the Shimanami Kaido
2009/06/01 - Gunkanjima
2009/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2009/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Himeji
2009/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kobe
2009/04/13 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2009/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2009/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nara
2009/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kobe
2009/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/03/31 - Cherry Blossom Report: Himeji
2009/03/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/03/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2009/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2009/01/19 - Bears in Hokkaido

2008/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kamakura
2008/10/06 - Autumn Color Report: Lake Akan
2008/08/18 - Miyajima Trip
2008/06/09 - Post Towns
2008/05/08 - Baseball Game
2008/04/14 - ASIMO and Aoyama Cemetery
2008/04/08 - Ninja Restaurant