Cherry Blossoms in Mt. Yoshino, Nara

Trip Start Mar 31, 2010
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Trip End Mar 31, 2010


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Flag of Japan  , Nara,
Thursday, April 8, 2010

I was satisfied with the cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto a week before, but I knew that was not the best viewing spot of Japan to see cherry blossoms. So I tried the best viewing spot, Mt. Yoshino of Nara. There may be different opinions about the best viewing spot, but in terms of the number of the cherry trees and the length of the season for the blooming cherry blossoms, Yoshino is definitely the best of all. Fortunately, Nara is close to my home town, so I took a one-day trip, using a package tour. 

 The tour departed from Nagoya at 7:30 in the moring and It took us 4 hours to get to Nara, which was shorter than I had expected. We didn't hit any traffic congestion before Mt. Yoshino, but in the mountain, there was a long waiting line for Naka Senbon parking lot. It a bit irritated me, although I had expected it, because I was already in the mountain with the great view of cherry blossoms through the windows, but we were prohibited from getting off the bus. Anyway, we were able to park in 15 minutes. As soon as I left the bus, I went up the hill for the Hanayagura Observatory, the best viewing spot for Kami Senbon and Naka Senbon Areas including Zao-do. ("Senbon" means one thousand trees at one view. So two thousands cherry trees can be  supposed to be seen from up there.) The uphill was quite steep, but the view even from the way to the observatory was outstanding as well as that from the observatory. Then I went farther up to Mikumari Shrine. The attraction of the shrine was extraordinary. The cherry blossoms in the garden were also fully blooming with a backdrop of mossy shrine architectures. It has a similar taste of Gioji Temple of Kyoto.

After I left the shrine, I headed for Kinpu Shrine, but I stopped by Takagiyama Observatory on a hill a bit and it was a big mistake. The trail to the observatory was quite steep and I couldn't climb without panting. The view from there was fine, but I couldn't see many cherry blossoms. Honestly, it was disappointing. After I descended the hill, I tried to walk up to Kinpu Shrine, but I was concerned about the departure time of my tour, so I unwillingly returned. On my way back, I saw many people have lunch under the cherry trees. It seemed to be a great picnic to them, but I didn't have time to stay in a certain spot for even a while. The mountain was like a hiking trail, not a cherry blossom viewing spot to me.... The Gorobei Teahouse Observatory was the next stop to view cherry blossoms, although I took a few pictures and hurried to the next spot, Yoshimizu Shrine, which is designated as a World Heritage Site.

The shrine was the Godaigo Emperor's palace in the Period of North and South Courts, which was turned into a shrine after the period. The admission fee was tricky. At the Sanmon gate, there was a collector of 200 yen "donation", but to enter the shrine building, the visitors had to pay another 400 yen. If your aim is just a view of cherry blossoms, you are able to enter the shrine for free (without paying the donation). I was not interested in the former palace and didn't have time to lose there, so I headed for Kinpusanji Temple (World Heritage Site). The temple has the second largest wooden building in Japan called Zaodo Hall. I glanced at the hall and took a few pictures and then I was totally satisfied. The Niomon Gate of the temple was beautiful with cherry blossoms. The last viewing spot was Shoken Queen Dawager Memorial for Shimo Senbon Area. The view from there was great, but I was not amazed at that time after I visited so many cherry blossom viewing spots. I arrived at the Shimo Senbon bus station two minutes before the departure time. 

Mt. Yoshino Tourist Association Website 
http://www.yoshinoyama-sakura.jp/english/index.htm
It includes the event schedule, map, local speciality information, and access.
 
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