With Kyoto announcing the beginning of full bloom just yesterday, I was back in the city today to see for myself how things were looking at four of its most notable cherry blossom viewing sites.

Since Raina's report from Tokyo on Wednesday, a number of prefectures across the country have announced the arrival of full bloom, bringing one of the earliest seasons on record close to its climax.

Despite overcast skies and a light drizzle of rain earlier in the morning, I found beautiful displays at all four sites drawing moderate crowds and a pleasantly excited buzz in the air.

Kiyomizudera Temple

Full Bloom

I started my day at this hugely popular temple, overlooking the city from its perch in the eastern Higashiyama District. Here, blossom trees belonging to the most common Somei Yoshino variety had very clearly reached full bloom, but perhaps due to the slightly higher elevation some of the trees dotted around the temple's leafy grounds seemed just a little further along than the other sites I would explore today, with a few less blossoms and petals already beginning to wrinkle.

The trees closer to the steep approach and temple gate still looked very fresh and beautiful however, and I would expect a very pleasant viewing experience here for the better part of a week.

Keage Incline

Full Bloom

Next on my list was this former section of industrial railway, elegantly repurposed as one of the city's most attractive strolling paths.

The cherry blossom trees lining the sloping tracks appeared just slightly more full and vibrant than those at Kiyomizudera Temple, forming a gorgeous canopy of petals towards the upper end of the path.

With plenty of healthy, robust-looking blossoms still on display, I would expect the area to be well worth a visit for blossom seekers until towards the end of next week.

Okazaki Canal

Full Bloom

Just a short walk northeast of the incline, I made another quick stop by the banks of the Okazaki Canal - another very picturesque viewing spot also just a few steps from the Heian Shrine.

I found the trees lining the canal in very similar condition to those at the Keage Incline, with those on the north bank by the Kyocera Museum of Art being a particular highlight.

Daigoji Temple

Full Bloom

I rounded off my day in Kyoto with a visit to Daigoji - an important temple and world heritage site set in spacious grounds to the southeast of the city center.

While the Somei Yoshino trees here looked to be just a day or so into their peak blooming, the large number of shidarezakura or weeping cherry blossom trees created quite a different overall impression to today's other spots. Still with enough blossoms on the branch to be very attractive, the ground immediately around these was already carpeted in petals, with more to be seen fluttering prettily to the ground.

Although especially enjoyable right now, the blossoms will likely still be enjoyable through the middle of next week.