This year's cherry blossom season has been developing nicely, with many spots in southern and central Japan already in full bloom and beyond. One spot that is traditionally later to develop however is the most famous of them all, Mount Yoshino in Nara Prefecture. The famed mountain is home to some 30,000 cherry trees that are largely spread over three areas of the mountain, Shimo Senbon, Naka Senbon and Kami Senbon.
The area is blessed with a sakura season typically longer than that of many other places across the country, and this is due to its height differential; with cherry trees at various stages up the mountain. Raina visited earlier in the week and reported much of the mountain to be in a premature stage, blossom wise, but since then the area has experienced some favorable weather, especially towards this latter end of the week. What I found today was that the blossoms have continued to develop nicely with a significant portion of the mountain now having reached full bloom.
I alighted at Yoshino Station early this morning and made my way up the mountain to Shimo Senbon. Good advice to prospective visitors is to book a reserved ticket on one of the limited express trains that accesses the area ahead of time, as they get booked up quickly. Upon arriving in the Shimo Senbon area I found that the cherry trees have ostensibly progressed nicely over the last few days, with many being in full bloom. Calm weather is predicted over the weekend and into next week, and should this prevail, I expect that the area won't exceed peak viewing for around another four days.
From Shimo Senbon I jostled through the crowds (which were plentiful in these lower areas) and made my way further up the mountain to Naka Senbon. I can report that the cherry blossoms have made some good progress in the last few days, perhaps pushed along by the relatively high temperatures yesterday, with many cherry trees, especially the yamazakura having now reached full bloom. This made the views from Yoshimizu Shrine very nice, whilst upon checking out Chikurin-in's landscape garden, I was met with some very nice displays from in-bloom trees. I expect that this area of the mountain will remain in a state of peak viewing until late next week, unless wind and rain puts a dampener on things.
After passing up through Naka Senbon, I arrived, with slightly tired legs, at Kami Senbon, my final location for the day. While the views down the mountain from the Hanayagura Viewpoint were spectacular, the state of the blossoms up at this high level of the mountain was a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst some cherry trees had reached full bloom, others were still looking barren, whilst yet more had around a fifth of their blossoms open.
I asked one of the staff by the famous viewpoint and she revealed that full bloom isn't expected to arrive up here for around another four days, should the weather stay favorable. Despite the area still lacking in blossoms however, it remains a fantastic place from which to gaze down on the pink-tinted mountain. There is another area further up the mountain called Oku Senbon, but this isn't as spectacular in terms of cherry blossom viewing.