Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report

Today I'm back in Kyoto, three days after my last report, and visited different places. Kyoto reached full bloom two days ago on April 1, and the blossoms I saw today are still at their peak and should remain at their best for the next few days or so before the petals start to fall. Those who wish to view the blossoms over the coming weekend should bring along an umbrella as it is forecast to rain. Note that strong rain and winds may shorten the peak cherry blossom viewing period.

Scott was in Nagoya today and you can read his report here. Elsewhere in the country, Sendai in the Tohoku Region reported the opening of the first blossoms (kaika) today, about a week earlier than the average year.

I arrived in Kyoto to overcast skies and joined the human crush of umbrella toting office workers and tourists to get to my first destination. Despite the cloudy skies, I saw no less than five couples, mostly non-Japanese, having their wedding pictures taken at the Philosopher's Path and Keage Incline.

Philosopher's Path
April 3, 2015 - full bloom

My first stop for today was the Philosopher's Path between Ginkakuji and Nanzenji. There was already a decent sized crowd enjoying the blossoms at their peak when I arrived and posing for pictures. The cherry trees here were at their peak and some of the more developed trees had petals falling. The flowers should remain attractive for at least the next few days before the petals start to fall.

Couple taking wedding pictures
Close up of the blossoms along the Philosopher's Path
Sakura and reflections
The sky may be overcast, but the open blossoms make up for it

Keage Incline and Okazaki Canal
April 3, 2015 - full bloom

My next stop for the day was the popular Keage Incline and Okazaki Canal, a tunnel and canal system that connects Kyoto with Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. While the Keage Incline is not in use anymore but is a very popular cherry blossom viewing spot as it is lined with about one hundred cherry trees. Okazaki Canal is also lined by many cherry trees, and there are boat tours (1000 yen for about 25 minutes) conducted during the cherry blossom season until May 6 from 9:30 to 16:30. Evening boat tours are conducted until April 12 till 20:30 for visitors to enjoy the light up along the river.

Both spots were crowded with visitors and the most common and numerous cherry tree variety, Somei Yoshino trees, were at full bloom and looked impressive. Like at the Philosopher's Path, some of the more developed trees at Keage Incline and Okazaki Canal had petals falling but still looked attractive. Rain and wind forecast over the next few days may affect the peak viewing period, but I expect the blossoms to remain at their peak till at least this weekend.

A boat tour in progress along the canal
A statue with the open blossoms
A wedding photoshoot along the Keage Incline
Blossoms heading your way
Full bloom and lots of people
Lots and lots of blossoms

Daigoji Temple
April 3, 2015 - full bloom

My final stop for today was Daigoji Temple, one of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. The temple grounds are huge and extend to the mountain behind, with several buildings that have been designated important cultural assets. Daigoji Temple is about a 15 minute walk or a short bus ride (200 yen one way, 300 yen for a day pass) from Daigo Station. There were literally bus loads of visitors, both local and foreign, there to visit the temple and see the cherry blossoms.

Daigoji Temple is also known as the location where Toyotomi Hideyoshi had his famous cherry blossom viewing (hanami) party. It is evident today that the grounds are beautiful with many cherry trees on the temple grounds. The weeping cherry trees in front of the Sanboin have started losing their petals and also have green leaves appearing, while the most common and numerous cherry tree variety, Somei Yoshino, in the rest of the temple grounds are at full bloom. Picnicking on the temple grounds are not allowed, but there are rest areas and teahouses to enjoy drinks and snacks.

The Niomon Gate hidden by cherry trees
A huge weeping cherry tree in front of the Sanboin
Leaves starting to appear
Sakura, Bentendo, a red bridge and petals on the water surface
Yaezakura, a different cherry tree variety
There was a ceremony going on while I was there
Different varieties of cherry trees in the Reihokan area of Daigoji Temple
Another massive weeping cherry tree beside the Reihokan
Sakura and umbrellas
Food stalls in the rest area

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List of Posts:
2019/10/23 - 46th Tokyo Motor Show
2019/03/20 - Moominvalley Park opens near Tokyo
2018/12/31 - 2018 Travel Highlights
2018/10/25 - Business as usual at Tsukiji Outer Market
2018/08/19 - Hello Kitty Shinkansen
2018/05/16 - Cruising Tokyo's waterways
2018/04/17 - Wisteria blossoms in Ashikaga Flower Park
2018/01/18 - Shinanomachi, the Backcountry of Nagano

2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017
2017/10/25 - The 45th Tokyo Motor Show
2017/10/11 - Dipping into the three onsen towns of Yamanaka, Yamashiro and Katayamazu
2017/07/24 - Remote Riches in Toyama
2017/07/03 - Spiritual Chichibu
2017/05/02 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2017/04/14 - Sneak Peek from Ginza Six
2017/03/21 - A bit of everything in Fukui
2017/03/13 - Nikko Toshogu Uncovered
2017/02/15 - Subculture in Ikebukuro
2017/02/07 - Travel to the Goto Islands
2017/02/06 - Nagasaki Lantern Festival

2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/12/19 - Winter Illuminations in Tokyo
2016/10/24 - The way of old on the Kunisaki Peninsula
2016/10/11 - Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu
2016/08/27 - Fool's Dance at Koenji Awa Odori
2016/08/16 - The three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan
2016/06/20 - Train travel into the Ise-Shima region
2016/04/03 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2016/03/08 - The hunt for Namahage on the Oga Peninsula
2016/03/02 - Sake Sangria
2016/02/20 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2016/01/26 - Tour de Reinan: Obama, Oi and Takahama
2016/01/25 - Tour de Reinan: Tsuruga, Mihama and Wakasa

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima
2015/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kankakei
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan
2015/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2015/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Dazaifu
2015/10/28 - The 44th Tokyo Motor Show
2015/10/21 - Hirado, where East meets West
2015/10/20 - Kujukushima Islands and Winter Illumination at Huis Ten Bosch
2015/10/19 - Navigating the Christian sites in Nagasaki
2015/10/18 - Cosplay at Haco Stadium Tokyo
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2015/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2015/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2015/09/16 - Nakanojo Biennale 2015
2015/08/19 - Traditional culture and hot springs of the Aizu Region
2015/08/17 - Nature and Hot Springs at Naruko Onsen
2015/08/04 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2015
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/29 - Hakodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/21 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/08 - Fukushima Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/06 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/02 - Nara Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/01 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/31 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/25 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Sendai
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Tokyo
2014/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2014/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/10/31 - Autumn Color Report: Karuizawa
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2014/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2014/10/01 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/06/19 - Toranomon Hills opens in Tokyo
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu-Wakamatsu Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/04 - Early Tokyo Blossom Report