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.

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.

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.