The cherry blossom season officially started in Kyoto and Osaka with the announcement of the opening of their first blossoms yesterday, March 27, 2019. Kobe which is also in the Kansai Region also announced the start of their sakura season yesterday. Judging by the warm weather forecast for the rest of this week, the cherry trees in these three cities are predicted to reach full bloom towards the end of next week, and the best viewing to start a couple of days before that.
Full bloom was announced in Tokyo on March 27, 2019, six days after the opening of the first blossoms was reported. I expect the rest of this week and the upcoming weekend to be the best times for cherry blossom viewing (hanami) in Tokyo. As of today, the sakura season has started in most of the cities from the west all the way up to the Kanto Region.
Today, I was in back in Kyoto three days after my last report. I found that the mainstream Somei Yoshino cherry blossoms where still mostly in buds, but it is only a matter of days before they open. I expect the best viewing in the city to start around the middle of next week.
I started my day at Kiyomizudera Temple, a popular sightseeing spot in Kyoto. I found that the mainstream Somei Yoshino cherry trees still had most of their flowers in buds, and it will be a few more days before the blossoms explode open. I expect the best viewing at Kiyomizudera Temple to start around the middle of next week. From March 29 till April 7, 2019, the temple will be illuminated from 18:00 and close at 21:00.
My next stop was Daigoji Temple, a large temple just outside of central Kyoto. There are many cherry trees in the temple complex, including weeping cherry trees. I found the weeping cherry trees to be almost at full bloom and expect their best viewing to continue through this weekend. The mainstream Somei Yoshino cherry trees on the other hand, had just started to open, and it would take a few more days for them to reach their best viewing.
I headed for the Keage Incline, a popular cherry blossom spot in Kyoto. The cherry tree lined slope sees many visitors the peak of the sakura season, and today, it was not as crowded due to the still closed flowers. However, I expect the place get more crowded over the next few days as more blossoms open. I walked down the slope towards the Okazaki Canal where there are regular boat rides (from 8:00 to 20:30 until April 7, 2019).
Finally, I made my way to the garden at the back of Heian Shrine. The garden has lots of weeping cherry trees that bloom later compared to the mainstream Somei Yoshino cherry trees, making it a good spot for those who are a little too late for the main sakura season. The weeping cherry blossoms were still in their buds and it was still early days to see any open sakura at the garden.