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

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2011/04/13 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino

Yoshinoyama (seen from the Hanayagura Viewpoint)

Today I took a day trip to Yoshinoyama (Mount Yoshino), one of the most famous cherry blossom spots in Japan. About 30,000 cherry trees are distributed along the mountainside, and when the blossoms open in the spring it makes for truly breath-taking views. An interesting aspect of the area is that the blossoms at different elevations are at different stages of development, so that visitors can see flowers that are at full bloom at the base of the mountain and then nothing but unopened buds at the top. Furthermore, the flower viewing season is extended considerably as full bloom doesn't just finish in one area but moves upward along the mountainside.

Scott visited the mountain five days ago for the April 8 Cherry Blossom Report and found the cherry blossoms to be at an early stage. Even in the earliest blooming lower region (Shimo Senbon) half of the flowers had yet to open. Since then the lower region has reaches full bloom and flowers are opening all along the mountain. Today I saw wonderfully colored scenery, which will continue throughout the week as full bloom moves into higher elevations. I suspect Yoshino will be at its seasonal best in a couple days when full bloom reached the middle region (Naka Senbon), where some of the most spectacular groups of trees are located.

Shimo Senbon (lower area)
April 13, 2011 - full bloom

The Shimo Senbon area has reached full bloom and should continue to be very attractive for the next day or two, after which the petals will begin to fall in greater numbers. Despite being a Wednesday, the area's shops and restaurants were very busy, so crowds should be expected by travelers visiting the area.

A cablecar travels from Kintetsu Yoshino Station up to the shops, the walking path winds through the trees on the hillside
The Shimo Senbon area at full bloom
Branches filled with cherry blossoms

Nyoirinji Temple
April 8, 2011 - full bloom

Today I visited the Nyoirinji Temple for the first time, which is located off of Yoshino's main path. The temple was attractive and had some nice views across a valley onto the main area of the Naka Senbon (middle area), but I wouldn't recommend it to travelers visiting Yoshino for the first time unless they have already explored the main temples already and have some energy left over.

Nyoirinji Temple (seen from the Naka Senbon's Gorobe-jaya Park)
A weeping cherry tree beside the temple's pagoda
The branch of a cherry tree in front of the pagoda
A woman sketches a vista across the valley to the main Naka Senbon area

Naka Senbon (middle area)
April 13, 2011 - approaching full bloom (50-80%)

As I mentioned after I visited Yoshino just over a year ago for the April 6, 2011 Cherry Blossom Report, the Naka Senbon is my favourite area of Yoshino. The streets are not as crowded as in the Shimo Senbon, and the area is not as remote or hard to reach as the Kami Senbon (upper area). The area also has Kinpusenji, the mountain's leading temple. My experiences today did not change my opinion. The area should reach full bloom before the weekend and continue to be attractive into early next week.

The Naka Senbon's Gorobe-jaya Park (seen from Nyoirinji Temple)
Cherry trees around Kinpusenji's pagoda
Particularly attractive cherry trees frame the roof of Kinpusenji's main temple building
A closer view of the same cherry trees

For me, the best part of a visit to the Naka Senbon is choosing a site at one of its many parks to enjoy a hanami party. There is a great abundance of green space so despite the many people one does not feel crowded and can enjoy the fresh air of the mountains.

Hanami parties in the Naka Senbon
Hanami parties in the Naka Senbon
Hanami parties in the Naka Senbon

Kami Senbon (upper area)
April 8, 2011 - just opened (0-10%)

Reaching the upper Kami Senbon area is quite a hike compared to getting to the first two areas. At the moment the flowers are just beginning to open, so it probably won't be until next week when the flowers reach full bloom. Travelers who can't get to Yoshino until then will stay have a chance to find flowers at full bloom.

Kami Senbon (seen from the Naka Senbon below)
The winding road up to the area through almost bare trees
In the area there are currently many more buds than flowers
Hanami parties in the Kami Senbon

Past the Kami Senbon there is still one more region, the Oku Senbon (inner area), which I did not visit today. This area surely has not seen its flowers open yet, but will be the last possible place to find cherry blossoms on the mountain before the season is finished.

My last stop of the day was the Kami Senbon's Hanayagura Viewpoint. There are other lookout point further up the mountain, such as the Takagiyama Obervation Deck, but while they are nice the the flowers become too distant or obscured by . When I visited at the end of the day during last year's visit, I quickly took some pictures and headed back down the mountain. This year I was smart to enough to enjoy the beautiful landscape more leisurely.

The end of the day at the Kami Senbon's Hanayagura Viewpoint

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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