Springtime in Japan is always associated with a sea of cherry trees awash with gorgeous pink and white blooms. Japan's unofficial national flower, it has been adored by everyone for it fragile beauty. This year cherry blossom season arrived earlier, and thousands of people flocked to the public parks, temple complexes and river shores to enjoy the wondrous spectacle of the falling petals. This sakura madness never ceases to amaze me!
If you are looking for a good place to view cherry blossoms in Kyoto, look no further. A Shinto shrine Hirano should be high on your list of places to visit in Kyoto. Though not very easily accessible by public transportation, it offers you a relaxed ambience. Is an amazing site to stroll during cherry blossom season in Japan and enjoy a variety of cherry blossoms scattered throughout the shrine complex. Very busy place during cherry blossom season but still a sense of serenity. If you head there towards the end of March, you will be awarded with some stunning views.
The shrine itself with a nice Kasuga style structure is remarkable too. Established in 794 by Emperor Kanmu, it has a long history of serving as cherry blossoms viewing spot for royal family. The shrine can be entered through a large and magnificent torii gates leading to the main hall where visitors are queuing to pray. A huge sacred tree on the left, reputed to be over 400 years old, provides long life to all visitors.
Around 400 cherry trees of 50 various species, such as rare Gyoiko with its flowers having a cream or even green tinge, bloom within the shrine grounds. This spectacular tree's signature look draws many visitors with their cameras ready. However, my favorite one is Yoko, also knows as ‘bright sunlight’ smothered with charming, rich pink flowers when in full bloom. It have even spread beyond Japan, being offered as gifts of friendship to Vietnamese and Burmese cities, among others.
The shrine grounds have lots to offer in addition to the beautiful cherry tree garden. Under the cherry trees, designated places are allotted for picnic crowd. Food stalls, set up tables and chairs for you to watch cherry petals falling while eating and drinking. Street vendors were abundant with all kinds of interesting foods, like grilled bamboo shoots! One of the most famous customs is to eat a classical Japanese dessert dango while enjoying cherry blossom blooming. I have chosen Mitarashi dango covered with a sweet soy sauce glaze, popular treat in spring.
If you come around sunset, take your time to explore shrine grounds a bit longer and you will be rewarded. When dusk fell, the cherry blossoms look fabulous with lanterns lit.
|Title||Cherry blossoms viewing at Hirano Shrine|
|Address||1 Hirano Miyamotocho, Kita, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8322|
|Access||If you are going from Kyoto station, take a bus 205 or 50 to Kinugasa Komae, and bus 15 from Sanjo Keihan station. From Shijo Omiya there is a bus 55, and bus 204 from Kitaoji Bus Terminal. The shrine is located nearby Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, just turn left from the northern exit.|