Francois' Japan Blog
by Francois, staff writer of

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2011/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto

Scott visited Kyoto three days ago for the April 9 Cherry Blossom Report and found all the sites he visited at full bloom. Since then a few of Kyoto's cherry blossom spots have begun to lose some flowers. It is still a great time to visit the city for cherry blossoms, but I suspect that by the weekend the majority of the most common somei yoshino variety of cherry tree will be drawing close to the end of the flowering season. I will be reporting from the city once more in a few days to show the state of the flowers as the season draws to a close.

Maruyama Park
April 12, 2011 - petals starting to fall (shidare)
April 12, 2011 - petals starting to fall (somei yoshino)

Maruyama Park's famous weeping cherry tree (shidare) still looked quite attractive but it has certainly lost some flowers. The park's somei yoshino trees were also losing flowers, but there was a mixture of trees that were still almost at full bloom and trees that were further advanced with fewer remaining flowers.

Maruyama Park's famous weeping cherry tree
The tree's hanging branches are still very attractive but some petals have begun to fall
Tables laid out among the cherry trees
Food stalls were set up and selling food
A branch with some missing petals

Keage Incline
April 12, 2011 - petals starting to fall

The Keage Incline is a slope that was used to transfer boats between canals, but in modern times it is more well known as a cherry blossom spot. Here as well the flowers were very attractive, but petals have begun to fall. In some spots the trees still seemed very much at full bloom

People walk along the Keage Incline between some of the trees that still remain at full bloom
The branches overhanging the incline are beginning to look less full of petals
The incline seen from above
The petals are beginning to fall

Okazaki Canal
April 12, 2011 - full bloom

The Keage Incline leads to the Okazaki Canal at the lower end, and the canal is also lined with cherry trees. The trees along the canal seem less advanced than those on the incline and were still at full bloom when I visited today. Boat rides along the canal are available for visitors until the beginning of next month.

A boat ride along the canal
The branches over the canal retain more flowers than those above the incline

Heian Shrine
April 12, 2011 - approaching full bloom (50-80%) (yaebeni shidare)

In the vicinity of both the incline and the canal is Heian Shrine, which I visited next. There are a few different kinds of cherry trees spread out over the shrine grounds that were at different stages of development.

A yamazakura tree in front of the shrine's main building with only a few flowers remaining
A somei yoshino tree beside the shrine's walls still at full bloom
Yaebeni shidare trees seen across a pond that are almost at full bloom

The most numerous trees at the shrine are the later blooming yaebeni shidare variety in the rear garden, which has a paid entrance of 600 yen. These weeping cherry trees were not quite at full bloom today but will likely be so tomorrow. There were still quite a few unopened buds on some trees and it seemed like only a few petals had fallen, so travelers who won't visit Kyoto until a few days from now should consider the shrine as one of the best spots to still find flowers.

The yaebeni shidare form an attractive ceiling over the garden's walking paths
Hanging branches fall onto the shrine's rooftops
With quite a few unopened buds, the shrine should remain an attractive spot into the weekend

Ninnaji Temple
April 12, 2011 - about to open (omuro cherry)

Located in northern Kyoto, Ninnaji Temple is another popular spot to find later blooming cherry blossoms. The omuro cherry trees for which the temple is famous are considerably later blooming. The temple has a cherry blossom festival that begins in a couple days, so today most of the cherry tree grove area was inaccessible. Ninaji Temple will be a good place to visit even into next week. Today, there were a few scattered cherry trees of different varieties that were very attractive, but the temple's main attraction is its omuro cherry trees which are still unopened.

Most of Ninnaji's omuro cherry grove won't be accessible for the next couple of days
The vast majority of the omuro cherry buds still haven't opened
Some other cherry trees near the temple's pagoda
A somei yoshino tree at full bloom hangs over temple gates and roofs

Kinkakuji Temple
April 12, 2011 - petals starting to fall (a single somei yoshino)

My last stop of the day was Kinkakuji Temple, which is not known as a popular cherry blossom spot. The golden pavilion is one of Kyoto's most iconic images, but it is little affected by the cherry blossom season. I only saw two cherry trees on the grounds, one of which could barely be seen in the distance behind the golden building. I wanted to validate the absence of Kinkakuji from our list of Kyoto's cherry blossom spots, and in that I was successful. Nonetheless, even without the aid of blooming cherry blossoms, the pavilion was very beautiful.

The petals seem to be falling from the single, distant cherry tree that can be seen in conjunction with the pavilion

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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