As the cherry blossom season winds up this weekend, the last of the flowers fall to the ground in a spectacular shower of fluttering pink petals. Time to look back on some of the best spots that KyoTours Japan shared with our guests this season.
Higashiyama is always one of the best spots to see sakura blossoms, and this year didn't disappoint. They started early but the full bloom periods were staggered throughout last week so there was always a few trees in peak form no matter when you visited.
The lone sakura tree overhanging the Zen garden at Kodaiji Temple was picture perfect, and looked great during the nightly light up event. This night time event runs for a while longer, so be sure to check it out if you're coming to Kyoto even after the sakura are finished. More info HERE.
My personal favorite spot for cherry blossoms is Hirano Jinja Shrine, located in the northwest of the city. It's tucked away in a residental area behind the famous Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, and most foreign visitors rarely visit this small shrine.
The blossoms in the sakura grove were amazing, not only because of the density of the packed grove, but also because the trees themselves are of many different varieties. Every year, the local elementary school children draw pictures of the trees to place over the lamps that are light at night to illuminate the trees. It adds a nice touch to the atmosphere, and helps the kids feel invested in their community. Another unique aspect of Hirano Jinja is how they preserve last year's cherry blossoms and serve them in cups of hot tea the following year! It makes a great souvenir to take home, and it's interesting to think people next year will be drinking the flowers you got to enjoy this spring.
We were able to see many different shades and shapes of sakura blossoms in this one small area, and it had a very festive atmosphere. Lots of people eating and drinking under the trees, and we even caught a traditional sakura dance performance! This is by far the best locals-only location for sakura, and our guests were shocked to find that we were the only foreigners there.
The trees are starting to get their leaves now, and that means summer is on it's way. Be sure to check back with KyoTours Japan soon to see our exclusive summer tour that we'll be offering in July and August. (hint: hope you like hiking!)