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Yoshino: Petals Falling

The view from Yoshimizu Shrine

With this year's cherry blossom season having reached, or on the way to reaching its conclusion in tourist hot spots like Tokyo and Kyoto, it is now the northern areas of the country and those of higher altitude that are beginning to take center stage for blossom chasers.

As Joe reported full bloom in Fukushima yesterday, today I was in Nara Prefecture seeing how the blossoms were doing on the famous Mount Yoshinoyama.

Raina reported full bloom from the mountain back on Monday but today the optimum viewing period was fast coming to an end, with many trees having shed their petals, although still looking good. Since my visit this morning however, rain showers and more wind have swept in, and these, I suspect, will have now definitively ended the area's best viewing period. On the plus side, calm weather is forecast here over the next couple of days, suggesting that the petals that survive today's attack from the elements may survive for another couple of days before the season comes to complete close here.

Shimo Senbon:
Past Peak

After arriving at Yoshino Station, I began my ascent of the mountain via its meandering pathways, first reaching Shimo Senbon. Now almost a week since full bloom was officially announced here, many cherry trees at this low part of the mountain looked to have shed a fair number of petals this morning.

This being said, the area still had a lot on offer for blossom chasers today, with a couple of stand out trees exhibiting some great colors, not to mention intermittent hanafubuki (literally 'flower blizzards'). All in all though, I strongly suspect that the rain that came this afternoon has now pushed this area past its peak.

The season winding down around Shimo Senbon's notable bridge
Looking down the mountain through a blizzard of petals
A few stand-out later-blooming trees still looking spectacular
Many trees, however, looked something like this upon close inspection
Visitors stroll the shop-lined streets, taking in the flower blizzards

Naka Senbon:
Past Peak

Next I reached Naka Senbon, and it was a similar story here as with Shimo Senbon in that, although some of the trees looked spectacular (especially some of the later-blooming varieties in Chikurin-in Temple's garden), many trees looked to have succumbed to wind since Raina's visit, with some even looking decidedly barren. With the rain that has come in this afternoon, I predict that here too, the optimum viewing stage will have now come to an end.

Buses, people and petals at Naka Senbon Park
Chikurin-in Temple's garden looking spectacular
Even some of these late-blooming varieties of tree are shedding their petals
Some spectacular displays at Naka Senbon Park
Some trees' blossoms holding on well
There was a fair amount of this, though

Kami Senbon:
Past Peak

After passing through Naka Senbon, I finally reached Kami Senbon near the top of the mountain. From here great views can be had down the mountain, especially from the Hanayagura viewpoint. The cherry blossoms up here were generally faring slightly better than of areas further down the mountain, but the area likewaise looked to be coming to the end of its peak viewing period even before the inclement weather that came this afternoon.

Petals falling at Kami Senbon
Looking down the mountain from one of Kami Senbon's popular vantage points
It looked as though the wind has took its toll up here
There were petal blizzards up here, too
The view from Hanayagura view point
Some trees up here were still looking magnificent, but these were more the exception than the rule