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

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2010/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto

The colour of cherry blossoms is fading at Daigoji Temple

Many spots in Kyoto are now losing their cherry blossoms at an accelerated rate and soon enough the season will be more or less over. When I visited the city three days ago on April 7 some popular cherry blossom spots such as Arashiyama and the Philosopher's Path were starting to lose their petals.

Today I saw many trees that were clearly beyond their peak as well as some that had no flowers at all. Though I was still able to see some trees that were very impressive, over the next few days the cherry blossom season in Kyoto will for the most part be coming to an end.

Daigoji Temple
April 10, 2010 - beyond the peak

In the morning I headed to Daigoji Temple to begin the day's search for cherry blossoms. Daigoji is located in southern Kyoto and consists of quite a large temple complex. There are three paid areas that can be visited individually or all together with a combination ticket.

One of the paths at Daigoji Temple

The cherry trees at Daigoji have lost many of their flowers, and the paths that connect the temple's paid areas have much fewer flowers on their branches than they would have had at full bloom.

The flowers are falling and the leaves are becoming more prominent

When I visited the temple for last year's April 1, 2009 cherry blossom report I was very impressed with the temple's massive weeping cherry trees. Today, most of those trees that were so full of blossoms last year were well beyond the peak.

A weeping cherry tree that has lost most of its blossoms

There were a few exceptions at the temple of trees that were still at or around full bloom. The best trees I saw today were a couple of otemari cherry trees that usually are at full bloom in May but have opened earlier this year because of the warm weather. The otemari trees are located in the paid museum area that is to the right of the main entrance to the temple.

A pair of otemari cherry trees in Daigoji's museum area
The ball shaped bunches of flowers of the otemari trees

Maruyama Park
April 10, 2010 - petals starting to fall

My next stop was Maruyama Park, one of Kyoto's most popular cherry blossom spots. When Schauwecker visited a week ago on April 4 the famous weeping tree at the center of the park looked spectacular. As can be seen below, today very few flowers remain on the tree.

Maruyama Park's famous weeping cherry tree

There were quite a few people at the park today, but I am sure it was not nearly as busy as it was a week ago. Most of the other cherry trees in the park have not fared as badly as the famous weeping tree, but the petals are definitely falling from the trees.

Cherry blossoms at Maruyama Park

Considering it was a Saturday, both the flowers above and the people below were fewer than I expected.

Laid out tarps
Tables and cushions

Heian Shrine
April 10, 2010 - full bloom

A bit of a walk to the north took me to a site with much better prospects for good flower viewing. The garden area at the back of Heian Shrine has many weeping cherry trees that bloom a bit later than the somei yoshino variety of tree that are at Maruyama Park. I visited Heian Shrine three days ago on April 7 and at that time the trees were just approaching full bloom.

Visitors to Heian Shrine walk through a tunnel of cherry blossoms alongside a pond

Today the shrine's beni shidare weeping cherry trees were very attractive, and the garden paths were extremely crowd. At the most attractive spots the line of people would bottleneck as everyone stopped to get a shot with their camera or phone.

Few buds remain unopen on the beni shidare trees

Okazaki Canal
April 10, 2010 - petals starting to fall

From the shrine I headed east along the Okazaki Canal to central Kyoto. Somei yoshino cherry trees line most of the canal on either side, and boat rides along the water are available to visitors.

Cherry trees along the Okazaki Canal

I found the trees along the canal in many spots to still have surprisingly many flowers. The walk or boat ride will still be enjoyable for the next couple of days for people looking for flowers.

Cherry blossoms along the Okazaki Canal

Kyoto Gyoen (Kyoto Imperial Park)
April 10, 2010 - beyond the peak

For the day's final cherry blossom spot I decided to visit Kyoto Gyoen, the large park that surrounds the Kyoto Imperial Palace. At Kyoto Gyoen large gravel pathways make a grid with imperial residences, palaces, sport facilities and parks. There are some cherry trees along the paths, but today only a few of them retained many flowers.

Cherry trees alongside the gravel paths at Kyoto Gyoen
Cherry blossoms at the Kyoto Gyoen

When I reached the area of the actual Imperial Palace I found massive crowds of people. Entry to the Imperial Palace usually requires applying before hand and visitors are taken on guided tours in small groups. However, the Imperial Palace currently has a special spring opening that lasts until tomorrow where people are allowed to walk through the palace grounds at on their own. There is of course a designated route and it is not allowed enter the palace and mess around with the emperor's things. However, the route that is now open passes directly by the Shishinden, the palace's main building, which must be seen from a distance during the regular guided tours. I enjoyed being able to get a close look at the building and the emperor's throne.

The main building of the Imperial Palace seen from up close

From Schauwecker's report from Kyoto Gyoen exactly two weeks ago on March 27 I saw that there were attractive weeping cherry trees located in the northwestern corner of the park. Though many of the trees had been at full bloom 14 days ago, there are still many at full bloom right at the moment. Directly adjacent are trees that have branches that are covered with almost all leaves and almost all flowers. Once again, it is a great place to find flowers.

Weeping cherry trees at full bloom
Cherry blossoms in the northwestern corner of Kyoto Gyoen

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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