Following Raina's report from Tokyo on Sunday, I arrived in Kyoto today to check on how the flowers were progressing at three of its most popular cherry blossom viewing sites.

Throughout the country, we have continued to see cherry blossom beginning to open earlier than usual, with Kyoto marking the beginning of its own season on Friday - a full week earlier than last year and nine days sooner than average. This being just four days from opening, I wasnft surprised to find blossoms at quite an early stage at all three sites, although with some differences between them.

Given the relaxation of national guidelines allowing for the return of traditional hanami parties, I was curious to see what rules might be in place locally and to what extent things appeared to be returning to pe-corona gnormalh. In fact, I saw little in the way of restrictions - but plenty of locals and visitors alike enjoying the promise of a fun hanami season to come.


Just Opened

I began the day in this well known scenic spot in the northwest of the city, where a large number of cherry blossom trees can be found along the Katsura River.

With the most common variety of Somei Yoshino trees showing at most a light scattering of new blooms, this area was noticeably a little behind the other two I would visit today with around a week to wait until full bloom.

Maruyama Park

Just Opened

Known in previous years as Kyotofs most popular cherry blossom viewing spot, my second stop was at this public park located close to Yasaka Shrine.

Here, the blossoms appeared perhaps a day ahead of Arashiyama, with around 5% of the buds on most trees already transitioning into blooms. Adding to this, a number of the earlier-blossoming shidarezakura or weeping cherry blossoms the park is known for were already approaching full bloom, creating some beautiful scenes. I would expect the park to be nearing its best overall appearance by this weekend.

The Philosopher's Path

Just Opened

Rounding off my time in Kyoto, I took a stroll along this scenic pathway connecting the two temples of Ginkakuji and Eikando.

Beginning at the eastern end, I noticed a slight progression of the blooms as I made my way north, then west on the final stretch towards Ginkakuji. Again, overall I would put the area about a day closer to full bloom than Maruyama Park with some wonderful scenes to be expected by the weekend.