This year's cherry blossom season is developing nicely with the majority of the major viewing spots in south and central Japan in full bloom and beyond. This being said, the focus for many sakura fanatics is now on the north and high areas that typically see later progression of the blossoms. Two spots; Takayama and the Fuji Five Lakes region are set to open around this weekend, with more to follow in what should be an exciting next week. Today I was back in Kyoto following on the heels of Andrew, who visited earlier this week.
The ancient capital has experienced some bad weather this week, with rain and, particularly concerning with regard to cherry blossoms, gusty periods during which the wind speed has been potentially threatening to the blossoms. I saw what damage inclement weather had done in Tokyo on my trip yesterday, and today I ventured to three of Kyoto's most popular viewing spots to see the state of things here. What I discovered was that generally the damage to the blossoms isn't huge, despite some evidence of a good ruffling.
My first stop today was at Kyoto Botanical Garden renowned for its variety of cherry trees including the ubiquitous Somei Yoshino variety as well as a considerable number of weeping cherry trees. This morning the garden's cherry trees showcased a wide range of blossom progression, with some having shed many of their petals and beyond peak whilst others like the Somei Yoshino were still at their optimum stage despite looking to be on the cusp of slight decline.
The park's later-blooming weeping cherry trees varied too, with some fast approaching full bloom whilst others lagged behind with as of yet only around half of their blossoms open. Calm weather is predicted through this weekend into early next week, meaning that the decline of the earlier bloomers should be slow. Meanwhile the projected warm temperatures should see the steady progression of the later bloomers. With this in mind, I expect that good cherry blossom viewing will continue to be had here into next week.
My next stop today was a few steps away from the gardens, along the Kamogawa River. The banks of the river were today awash with color, with many of the cherry trees in full bloom and bearing only slight signs of damage from the recent inclement weather. Considering the predicted calm weather, I expect that these trees won't exceed their peak for around 3-4 days. The section of the bank dedicated to weeping cherry trees was very pretty despite being around 3 days from peak should the predicted warm weather prevail. All in all the area remains a great, relatively placid spot to do some cherry blossom viewing.
My final stop today was at Maruyama Park in Kyoto's famed Higashiyama district. Invariably one of the ancient capital's most popular hanami spots when in full boom, today the crowds had seemingly dropped off like a significant number of the petals here. There was the odd cherry tree approaching full bloom, but for the most part the park's cherry trees were on the decline, despite still looking nice. The predicted calm weather bodes well for the blossoms here, and should it prevail, I expect that the park generally won't exceed its peak until this weekend.