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Kyoto: Just Opened

Weeping cherry tree at Daigoji Temple

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.

Kiyomizudera Temple

Just Opened

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.

Not many sakura flowers here at Kiyomizudera Temple
Flower buds against the pagoda
Not too long before these open
Looking across the valley
Renovation works on the main hall are scheduled to last until March 2020
Cherry trees around the small pond near the exit of the temple

Daigoji Temple

Just Opened

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.

Mainstream Somei Yoshino trees with their flowers still in buds along the perimeter of the temple complex
Weeping cherry trees near the Reihokan Museum
Like it's raining flowers
Best viewing for these trees now
Weeping cherry trees in bloom
Mainstream Somei Yoshino cherry tree in the foreground and weeping cherry tree behind
Main approach to the Shimo Daigo area
The area around the Bentendo is more popular for its autumn colors
But not long to go for the mainstream cherry blossoms
Five-storied pagoda
Cherry trees in front of the Sanboin
Getting there

Keage Incline

Just Opened

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).

Keage Incline looking a little empty when I was there
Because the flowers were still mostly closed
Boat rides along the canal
These rides would be so much more fun under open flowers
No blossoms to block the view yet
But it won't be long here either

Heian Shrine

Not Open Yet

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.

Entrance to the paid garden is on the left
All these trees are weeping cherry trees
But there's not much to look at now
Heian Shrine buildings and cherry trees
Wedding ceremony in session