Sakura


Cherry Blossom season in Japan. An ephemeral period, the blossoms are at their peak
for only a day or three depending on the weather, and that time is different all over Japan.
The day they reach their peak is different too, as it is temperature and weather dependent,
so planning (and luck) is imperative. If you do it right, you can travel from south to north on
your trip and be everywhere at the peak of cherry blossom season. If the weather is right,
you can miss the window on the early side by a day and still be OK, but don’t count on it.
The day after flowers reach their peak, they fall, blanketing the area with snowy petals.

I hit the window for the most part. I was late by a day in Kamakura, so you can see
the beautiful mess it makes in the image from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu below.

There are sakura images all over this website. Half of the images on this page
are compiled from other pages, and the other half are unique to this page.

Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) is a favorite annual pastime in Japan.
I hope you enjoy your hanami session with the 30 images below.

As always, click an image for a larger version,
and use your back button to return to this page.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
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OkawaRiver_SakuraFestival_9111


Okawa River Sakura Festival 9111

A couple strolls under a canopy of sakura at the Okawa River Festival in Osaka.

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Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Dankazura 0623

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Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Dankazura 0624

Dankazura is a pedestrian path in the center of Wakamiya Oji street in Kamakura,
lined with hundreds of cherry trees. It leads to the shrine of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu.

Dankazura was built by Minamoto no Yoritomo when his wife was pregnant. Only a son could succeed him as shogun
(he had two daughters), so he built the raised 460 meter long pathway to the shrine as a prayer to Hachiman for a son in
1182. The path was modeled after Miyako Oji in Kyoto, and was originally 33 meters wide with a moat on each side.

TsurugaokaHachimangu_Sakura_0656


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Sakura 0656

The Pei pond (Minamoto pond) created by Masako (Yoritomo’s wife), with cherry blossoms covering
the surface, and the peony garden on the opposite side. This is what it looks like when you miss the window
by one day. It is certainly still quite beautiful, of course, but it sort of looks like an organic snowstorm.

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Korakuen Sakura 0365

A close portrait taken in Korakuen Garden, one of Japan’s three major gardens (in Okayama).

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Satsukiyama Koen Sakura 0238

Satsukiyama Park, with lanterns out for Sakura Festival.

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Satsukiyama Koen Sakura 0260

Satsukiyama Park is in Ikeda City, a suburb of Osaka.

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Satsukiyama Koen Sakura 0265

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Maruyama Park Weeping Cherry 9440

A famous old weeping cherry tree, lit at night
for the appreciative crowd in Maruyama Park.

This was a difficult 1/13 second handheld shot.

MaruyamaPark_WeepingCherry_9438


Maruyama Park Weeping Cherry 9438

Maruyama Park is in Gion, Kyoto’s Geisha District.

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Maruyama Park Sakura 9619

Shidarezakura (Weeping Cherry)

Another famous old tree in Maruyama Park. Heavily shaded by the clouds, but still nice.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
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There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection

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PhilosophersPath_9670


Philosopher’s Path 9670

Between Ginkakuji and Nanzenji, Philosopher’s Path follows a cherry-lined canal, continuing
for 2 kilometers along the base of the Higashiyama (Eastern mountains) above Maruyama Park.
The name derives from Nishida Kitaro, a prominent philosopher, teacher, and the founder of the
Kyoto school of Philosophy, who used to stroll this path while meditating in the early 1900s.

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Philosopher’s Path Sakura 9693

PhilosophersPath_9677


Philosopher’s Path 9677

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Philosopher’s Path Sakura 9673

Tetsugaku no Michi (Philosopher's Path)

Philosopher’s Path is also sometimes called Philosopher’s Walk, I suppose because
they want to remind you that there is no danger from traffic other than the occasional stroller.
This is one of the most popular sites in Kyoto for hanami (sakura viewing), as the trees
that are planted regularly along the canal explode into color a few days each year.

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Kyoto Sakura 9692

I think the tree on the right may be a Kusunoki (camphor)
as it has a similar character and bark to the two camphor
trees (700 years old) at nearby Chion-in. These are a
few minutes walk from Nanzenji temple in Kyoto.

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Kyoto Sakura 9695

Just around the corner, a little closer to Maruyama Park
was this explosively blooming cherry tree. The sight of
this profusion of flowers up against the deep blue sky
was breathtaking. OK, so it’s true. I’m easily pleased.

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Nanzenji Sakura 9698

Inside the gate at Nanzenji (it’s some gate, one of the three largest in Japan)
I saw this beautiful sakura. I’m giving you two angles of the tree that drew me in.

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Kyoto Sakura 9699

The foot of the Higashiyama (eastern mountains) in Kyoto is a very nice place
during cherry blossom season (or any time, for that matter). The area is full of ancient
temples and shrines, the Philosopher’s Path, Maruyama Park, the Gion Geisha District,
really neat old streets, houses and shops... it’s enough to make a poor tourist weep.

 Oh wait... that is the Weeping Sakura Tree.  Never mind...

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
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Sakura_9033


Sakura 9033

A closeup taken beside the pond at Keitaku Garden
in Osaka. See the Gardens page. It’s a beautiful pond.

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Mino Mountain Sakura 0234

Mountain Sakura shot on a rainy day on Mino Mountain,
while dodging Mino Monkeys and escaped Dharma dolls.

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Mino Mountain Sakura 0230
(Yamazakura = mountain sakura)

I suppose I have to explain that last sentence...

You see, I had just left Katsuoji temple, where they are infested with little Dharma (Daruma) dolls.
The dolls are very cute... really. I wasn’t worried about escapees. Anyway, it had been raining off
and on all day. The rain eventually stopped, and out from the forest comes this troop of monkeys.
They gathered to dry their feet (sitting down and lifting their feet off the ground). I convinced a few
of them to sit for formal studio portraits (see the Wildlife page), which is unusual for wild monkeys.

So... I left the monkey troop and headed up the mountain to Mino-o Falls at the top of the rainforest.
While I was up at Mino-o Falls, I spotted this mountain sakura at a distance and shot them at 85mm.

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Ueno Park Sakura 7607

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Ueno Park Sakura 7610

Youkou (mixed breed Amagiyoshino and Kanhizakura)
I am providing this 1350 x 1080 image without watermark.

Kanhizakura is a scarlet-colored early blooming sakura,
Amagiyoshino is a cultivated variety of Someiyoshino,
which itself originated with a late Edo-period cultivated
strain developed by a gardener named Yoshino.

UenoPark_Sakura_7599


Ueno Park Sakura 7599

Oshimazakura originated on Oshima Island south of Tokyo. Oshimazakura is often used for
cultivating varieties, and without it there would probably not be as many cherry trees in Japan.

I am also providing this image at 1500 x 1200 without watermark. Personal Use only, please.

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Ueno Park Sakura 7596

A close shot detailing just-opening and open blossoms.

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Ueno Park Sakura 7450

Sakura over Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park, Tokyo.

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Ueno Sakura Canopy 7584

Ueno Park hanami viewers come out in droves for
hanami parties under the spectacular canopy provided
by over 1000 cherry trees. It’s a noisy, fun environment.

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Ueno Park Sakura 7439

Sometimes, as many as 50,000-100,000 people crowd
the park to view the spectacular sight. In 2011, however,
because of the disasters hanami parties were cancelled.

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Ueno Park Sakura 7592

Ueno Park was Japan’s first National Park. Opened in 1873, it has a zoo, museums,
a marshland with a major bird sanctuary, Shinobazu Pond, temples, shrines, and cherry trees.
It occupies the site of the former Kaneiji, a temple founded by the Tokugawas to guard Edo Castle
against the evil spirits in the Northeast (considered an unlucky direction). Kaneiji was destroyed in the
Boshin War (1868-69) which finally defeated the Tokugawa Shogunate following the Meiji Restoration.

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There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection

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