Sakura season is Kyoto was made for the phrase “you really had to be there”.
Unfortunately the weather for cherry blossom season this year is horrendous. Yesterday was literally the only day during the projected bloom without steady rain forecasted, and rain does more than make viewing the sakura unpleasant – it also shortens the season itself. C’est la vie I suppose – at lest yesterday was good weather.
Unfortunately, that weather (and the grim forecast) meant that the always horrific crowds at popular hanami and viewing spots were even worse. The only previous time I was in Kyoto for cherry blossom was three weeks after the Tohoku earthquake, a trip I wrote about extensively on this blog. I realize now more than ever what a rare and incredible privilege it was to see Kyoto during sakura season with virtually no foreign tourists around – the difference is indescribable. That’s a trip that will always stay with me for a multitude of reasons, but those days in Kyoto are a big part of them.
Of course Japanese tourists do plenty enough to piss you off – between preposterous shoes, deadly parasols and tiny dogs (seriously, if a dog is so weak you have to carry it that dog really shouldn’t have been inbred into existence), but there’s no doubt foreign tourists in Japan are far worse. Louder, more insensitive, and generally more obnoxious (taking bicycles on the Philosopher’s Path – on the busiest day of the year no less? Throw away the key, please). Can a throng of them ruin the Philosopher’s Path at the height of the sakura bloom? No – but there’s no doubt they can detract from the experience in a big way.
In any event, this batch of pics – which may be my last sakura pics unless I spring for a trip to Yoshino if we get a decent day next week – was taken in Higashiyama and along the Kamogawa north of Imadegawa. The first batch is Heian Jingu and the Okazaki Canal, and the next from the Philosopher’s Path, including Oomiya Jinja (incidentally, I just realized that the Shrine near the “cat place” at the south end of the path is Nyakuoji – coincidence?). Then we have the Kamogawa followed by the gorgeous Shirakawa area lit-up in the evening. And finally, a very interesting truck belonging to a business whose specialty I care not guess at.