Yahoo! Winter is almost over... soon it will be time to celebrate the warmth and beauty of spring season.
The snow that covered the streets and hills will be replaced by a new layer of softer white. Unfortunately, this beauty will only last a short time. The end of March to early April is the peak time for viewing sakura cherry blossoms from Kumamoto to Chiba Prefectures. In my opinion however, the best place to enjoy sakura is Kyoto.
This prefecture has many places where you can enjoy the grace of blooming sakura. Strong trees with many long branches are covered thickly with blooms. I found that there are five particular spots that are always deservedly crowded around this season.
Hirano Jinja is a small Shinto shrine which is a favorite spot for sakura sightseeing. The temple has a park which is filled with sakura trees, and at the peak of the sakura season, many food stalls appear, so visitors can enjoy the sakura while enjoying exquisite Japanese snacks.
Maruyama Park is much larger than Hirano Jinja. It is located behind Yasaka Jinja. In addition to many food stalls, there are places to enjoy a picnic here. Bring a mat and some lunch, then sit and enjoy the view beneath the sakura trees. A picnic during sakura blooming season is known as Hanami, which means 'flower viewing'
Philosopher' Path is a street which has sakura trees planted on both sides. The trees are close together, and they form a lovely white canopy. Such beauty attracts many visitors in spring time.
Kamogawa Riverside is also lined with sakura trees. This area is a good place to take a nap and enjoy dozing off beneath the trees. Visitors can also sit on the banks and enjoy the river view in front of them. Another way to enjoy sakura is to ride a bicycle along the path beside the river.
Kyoto Imperial Palace is surrounded by a large park which is open to the public. One section of the park is planted with sakura trees, some of which are very old. That's why some of the trees are fenced with bamboo so visitors can't touch them.
There are many other parks, shrines and temples which have sakura trees, but the five places above are all very beautiful, and also - importantly - free!
So what are you waiting for? Don't miss your chance in 2015 to enjoy the excitement of picnicking beneath Kyoto's sakura trees!