A day on from yesterday's reports, where Raina found three sites in Tokyo to be at or on the verge of full bloom while I visited Kanazawa and Fukui City, today I found myself in Kyoto to check in on the blossoms at three of the city's best loved viewing spots.

Despite some overcrowding - hardly a surprise on a sunny Saturday during this busy period - I had a very enjoyable experience at all three sites, with lots of attractive, fully developed blossoms in line with the city's official announcement of full bloom the previous day.

The Keage Incline and the Okazaki Canal

Full Bloom

My first stop was at the Keage Incline - once the site of a railtrack used to transport boats uphill between canals, today best known for the 100 or so cherry blossom trees lining the slope on both sides. Here, at least 80% of buds had opened, creating some beautiful scenes and a light canopy of blossoms towards the upper part of the incline. The time for best viewing has already begun, and should last for another five days or so.

The picture was very similar just a short walk to the north west along the Okazaki Canal, which flows close by the Heian Shrine and Kyocera Museum of Art on its way from the Biwa network of canals to the Kamo River. I did notice a few more closed buds along the canal's north shore than at the Keage Incline however, suggesting that the overall progress here is one to two days behind.

Nijo Castle

Full Bloom

Next on my itinerary for today was Nijo Castle, the former Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shogun known for its spacious grounds and many different varieties of cherry blossom tree. Concentrated in the northeast corner of the gardens, the Somei Yoshino variety - by far the most common nationwide - were already very much in full bloom, with only a handful of still closed buds to be found.

Elsewhere, the mix of early and late blooming varieties created a more complicated picture. Over on the western side of the grounds, the most common type was the weeping cherry blossom trees, now already just a little past their best and beginning to drop their petals. Another well known spot on the southern side is the Cherry Grove, which will likely continue to bloom over the next two to three weeks making it an ideal spot for late season blossom viewing.

The Philosopher's Path

Full Bloom

My final stop of the day was at the Philosopher's Path, a pleasant strolling path in the northern part of the city leading from Ginkakuji to the area surrounding Nanzenji. I found this area to be fractionally further along than the others I visited today, with barely a closed bud to be found, and lots of beautiful, thick clusters of blossoms along the length of the path. For anyone planning a visit soon however, this was by far the most crowded spot I saw today.

As with the other two locations, I felt that we are already into the period of best viewing, and that this is likely to continue for around five days.