by Scott, staff writer of japan-guide.com
This journal is a log of my travels within Japan. Here you'll find my personal opinions on the places I've been and the things I've seen. Also expect to see the occasional review and editorial. Thanks for reading.
2015/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Himeji
Today I spent one of my wettest reporting days yet this year checking out Himeji in western Japan. Like most of the other major cities around the country, the cherry blossoms around Himeji reached full bloom about a week ago and have survived off and on rain for the last several days. Though mostly beyond the peak of the season, some of the cherry trees around Himeji were still managing to hang on to the last of their petals despite the steady drumbeat of rain this morning.
Elsewhere in Japan, the Tohoku region in the north of the country is starting to see good blossoms and may be a worthwhile alternative to those who have missed the main season around the other major cherry blossom spots of Japan.
April 10, 2015 - beyond peak
The main attraction of Himeji is, of course, Himeji Castle about one kilometer north of the station. The giant white fortifications are widely considered to be the best surviving castle in Japan, and are both a national treasure and world heritage site. The main castle keep has been under significant renovations for the last five years and finally fully reopened to public on March 27, 2015. Although the renovation work was a sight to see itself, it was a relief to once again be able to see the castle without all the scaffolding and structures that have surrounded it for the last five years. Since it was just reopened, the castle can be expected to be exceptionally crowded over the next few months, so visitors may want to take advantage of the special early opening times through early May to try and beat the crowds.
The cherry blossoms reached full bloom around the castle grounds last week, but have had to put up with off and on rain almost the entire time since then. By now the Somei Yoshino trees have lost a significant percentage of their petals and are starting to look pretty barren. And no doubt today's steady rain will not be doing them any favors.
There are quite a few later blooming Yaebeni Shidarezakura weeping cherry trees planted around the grounds, especially around the Nishinomaru area, that were at full bloom today. These should continue to provide nice colors for several more days around the castle.
The Senhimebotanen garden below the castle ticket gate is a popular place to have cherry blossom viewing (hanami) parties. Unfortunately the cherry trees were pretty barren and no one seemed to want to picnic in the puddles and mud below the trees.
April 10, 2015 - full bloom(Yaebeni Shidarezakura)
Next door to the castle is Kokoen Garden, a quite new Japanese style garden that was opened on the site of the former west residence of the local feudal lord. The garden features nine small Edo Period style subgardens featuring ponds, waterfalls, and tea houses. There are a few cherry trees scattered around the grounds, including a small grove of Yaebeni Shidarezakura that were at full bloom.