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I’m an Ecuadorian-American living in Kyoto, Japan. With my multilingual skills, I hope to reach all different kinds of people from around the world with my blog :)

Soy una Ecuatoriana-Americana viviendo en Kioto, Japón. Con mis habilidades multilingües, espero alcanzar a todos diferentes tipos de gente en el mundo con mi blog :)

Chasing Cherry Blossoms, Part 1

Chasing Cherry Blossoms, Part 1

A little while I go I embarked on another tour around Japan to see some of the best sights of cherry blossoms during the peak season. Starting at the end of March to the middle of April, most of Japan is full of cherry blossoms in full bloom. I had once experienced cherry blossom season in Tokyo about two years ago, but this time I wanted to go anywhere but Tokyo to see them.

There are many websites one can easily google that talk about the best spots to see cherry blossoms and when they start blooming. The best viewings last about a week or so, and then the streets of Japan become littered (but in a good way) with fallen petals. It’s truly a majestic sight to see when there are barely any places in New York that have a single cherry blossom tree, not alone a whole park of them. In this post I will name all the places I visited to see cherry blossoms around Japan, and the next post will be cherry blossoms spots I visited just in Kyoto. Believe me, the cherry blossoms in Kyoto warrant their own post.

The first stop on my list was Himeji Castle. During peak season, many tourists visit Himeji in order to see the castle which is centered around many cherry blossom trees. Himeji Castle is almost known for being a mostly complete castle, and not destroyed by fires or other disasters over its long history. Himeji Castle is also known as the “White Heron” castle, and they had heron figurines lined on the castle roofs. The white castle is a truly spectacular sight to see surrounded by so many cherry blossoms. In the garden next to the castle grounds is also full of cherry blossoms, so there were many people having their lunches underneath the trees. This is called “hanami” or cherry blossom viewing parties, a popular activity to do with friends and family during cherry blossom season.

A look at the castle from afar, and you can see the entrance bridge to it has plenty of tourists.

A look at the castle from afar, and you can see the entrance bridge to it has plenty of tourists.

During peak season, these cherry blossoms can make anything look good. With the impressive Himeji Castle behind, there is no better sight in Himeji!

During peak season, these cherry blossoms can make anything look good. With the impressive Himeji Castle behind, there is no better sight in Himeji!

Looking out at the city of Himeji from inside the castle. You can see many cherry blossom trees, and the park I mentioned earlier in the back of the photo.

Looking out at the city of Himeji from inside the castle. You can see many cherry blossom trees, and the park I mentioned earlier in the back of the photo.

Another look at the castle but just a little bit closer. Aren’t the cherry blossoms gorgeous?

Another look at the castle but just a little bit closer. Aren’t the cherry blossoms gorgeous?

Finally, a look at Himeji Castle from the cherry blossom park next to it. A great trip to make if you’re in the Hyogo region of Japan (past cities like Osaka and Kobe).

Finally, a look at Himeji Castle from the cherry blossom park next to it. A great trip to make if you’re in the Hyogo region of Japan (past cities like Osaka and Kobe).

The second stop on my list was Matsumoto. Matsumoto is known for its own castle, Matsumoto Castle, and is also said to be a great place to see along with the cherry blossoms. The flower’s peak season is a little later in Matsumoto, around the middle of April compared to Himeji’s earlier peak season. There were not as many parks with cherry blossoms in Matsumoto, at least where I visited, but I got to see them near the castle and right along the river in the downtown area of Matsumoto.

Some withering cherry blossoms, another kind of cherry blossom, with the castle in the background. There were many people that day to see the castle with a cherry blossom view.

Some withering cherry blossoms, another kind of cherry blossom, with the castle in the background. There were many people that day to see the castle with a cherry blossom view.

Some cherry blossoms trees along the Metoba River!

Some cherry blossoms trees along the Metoba River!

On my other stop to see cherry blossoms I went to Kawaguchiko (again!). I visited this area back in November to see the autumn leaves, and I researched online that cherry blossom season was also a great time to visit the Mount Fuji area. There are probably many places in Kawaguchiko to see cherry blossoms but I went to two particular places. First, I hiked up a small but steep mountain to see the Chureito Pagoda. Then, I went to Lake Kawaguchi to see the cherry blossoms. In both of these places, you can see Mount Fuji in all its clear splendor. I got really lucky that day! The weather was warm and clear and all around beautiful.

This stop is definitely my favorite of all the stops outside of Kyoto. There really is no better view in Japan than cherry blossoms with Mount Fuji.

Walking up to the famous Chureito Pagoda you passed through this torii, a Shinto gate indicating the sacred land beyond it. When you turn around, not only can you see the gate but also the cherry blossoms leading up the trail AND Mount Fuji. You can see how many people stopped to snap a picture, like myself.

Walking up to the famous Chureito Pagoda you passed through this torii, a Shinto gate indicating the sacred land beyond it. When you turn around, not only can you see the gate but also the cherry blossoms leading up the trail AND Mount Fuji. You can see how many people stopped to snap a picture, like myself.

Some of the hike up to the Pagoda. There is a stairway and a more curved trail you can choose to get up to the Pagoda. The stairs are quite steep so I had to take a break one or twice to reach the top. The trail is much easier and is completely lined with cherry blossoms, so I decided to take that route downhill.

Some of the hike up to the Pagoda. There is a stairway and a more curved trail you can choose to get up to the Pagoda. The stairs are quite steep so I had to take a break one or twice to reach the top. The trail is much easier and is completely lined with cherry blossoms, so I decided to take that route downhill.

What a view! Chureito Pagoda with cherry blossoms and Mount Fuji in the back is a famous view. I’m so lucky I got a photo of this scene in spite of all the tourists that were there too!

What a view! Chureito Pagoda with cherry blossoms and Mount Fuji in the back is a famous view. I’m so lucky I got a photo of this scene in spite of all the tourists that were there too!

On my walk around Lake Kawaguchi, I encountered a few food stalls that were under the cherry blossoms. Since cherry blossom season is a popular time for tourists to visit the rea, locals take advantage of the opportunity to sell foods and other goods.

On my walk around Lake Kawaguchi, I encountered a few food stalls that were under the cherry blossoms. Since cherry blossom season is a popular time for tourists to visit the rea, locals take advantage of the opportunity to sell foods and other goods.

A view of Mount Fuji and the cherry blossoms around Lake Kawaguchi. This is one of my favorite snapshots of the whole trip. There were quite a few people lining up to take a similar shot, so I’m glad I got to get one as well.

A view of Mount Fuji and the cherry blossoms around Lake Kawaguchi. This is one of my favorite snapshots of the whole trip. There were quite a few people lining up to take a similar shot, so I’m glad I got to get one as well.


Chasing Cherry Blossoms, Part 2

Chasing Cherry Blossoms, Part 2

Scintillating Singapore

Scintillating Singapore