by Sean, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2012/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
After spending a day at Osaka, I returned to Kyoto yesterday, and I witnessed an invasion: that of tourists, both local and foreign, who poured into the streets of the old capital. Walking along the streets, I heard different dialects of the Japanese language; I also heard Chinese, English, German, Italian, Urdu, Spanish, Thai, the list goes on.
It's no wonder, because to begin with Kyoto is a popular city for tourists, and to add to that, it's currently cherry blossom season. Today I will be doing a road march: starting from Kiyomizudera, I will move north and end the day at the Philosopher's Path, stopping at other famous cherry blossom spots along the way.
April 9, 2012 - Opening (10-50%)
My first stop of the day was at Kiyomizudera. As I approached the main building, I noticed that the cherry trees here were still at an early stage of flowering. With warm weather expected over the next few days, I estimate for the trees here to reach full bloom about two days from now. Descending the steps as I headed for the exit, I noticed some trees which have passed the 50% mark. I think cold winds, that the trees at the upper levels must have been subjected to, could be the reason for their late development.
There were many foreign tourists at the temple this morning. Many crowded around Otowa Waterfall, waiting in line to drink the water which is believed to make wishes come true. I observed something which disturbed me a little though: there were a few who placed their water bottles on the ladle and reached to fill them up with water from the source (obviously oblivious to the dozens queuing up behind). Just a sip is supposed to do the trick.
April 9, 2012 - Approaching full bloom (50-80%)
As I walked from Kiyomizudera to Maruyama Park, I saw a couple having their wedding pictures taken at a picturesque alley. This was the seventh such couple I had witnessed over the past week, so guys, if you want to propose but didn't know how to, here's a suggestion.
Yesterday I came here to join in the weekend evening hanami (cherry blossom watching) festivities, which is held till 1am every night until April 19. There was a great crowd and lots of people were making merry and taking pictures of the illuminated famous weeping cherry tree.
The cherry trees at the park were very close to full bloom. In fact, some were, but in a world of majority, I think full bloom here would be reached tomorrow. Many of the trees had full lower branches, but upper branches which only reached the 50% mark.
April 9, 2012 - Approaching full bloom (50-80%)
Walking north until reaching the unmistakable vermilion torii gate of Heian Shrine, I noticed many full looking cherry trees. The bridge at the crossroad between the entrance of Heian Shrine and Okazaki Canal provided a vantage point with an already very pleasant view. Give the blossoms another day, and I think they will reach their peak.
Till May 6, for a thousand yen, visitors can tour the canal on a leisure boat. In addition, till April 15, the boats will operate every evening until 20:30, allowing visitors to view the light up of the cherry blossoms from a different perspective.
April 9, 2012 - Full bloom
It was uncanny: Keage Incline is located just around the corner of Okazaki Canal, but here the trees were noticeably more advanced and most have reached their peak. It was almost like the cherry blossoms became happy enough after sunbathing for the additional 15 minutes which I took to walk here, and therefore decided to show-off their pretty corollas.
Had I walked back to Okazaki Canal, I might have found the trees there to be in full bloom already. Cherry blossom viewing at Okazaki Canal/ Keage Incline should be great until at least the coming weekend.
April 9, 2012 - Approaching full bloom (50 - 80%)
Think. It is imperative to be philosophical on the Philosopher's Path. Thought: why was I the only fool left with the down jacket on, as if I couldn't accept the fact that winter is over?
Actually the only reason why the jacket was still with me was because it has really useful big pockets; the weather became really warm as forecasted, and thus I was pretty surprised when most of the cherry trees that I saw here were just about at the 50% mark. The buds of the flowers however, looked pretty full and seemed ready to open soon.
As I got closer to the path leading to Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), the branches of the cherry trees seemed to become denser. These trees looked like they would reach their peak anytime soon. I carried on along the path until the area around Kyoto University, where I branched off to get some sunscreen in preparation of tomorrow's warm weather again. The jacket, by the way, has to go.