five story pagoda

9

The Sakura season in Kyoto is always the highlight of the spring season. There are so many beautiful spots scattered around the ancient Heian capital, that it’s hard to decide where to go.
The peak of the Cherry blossoms doesn’t last all that long either, just about one week. Although its spring and the rain that comes with it, there are days that the sky is heavenly blue and the sun is shining!
This year I visited many different spots and its hard to say which are prettier. The topping on the cake was my visit to Haradani-en Garden (原谷苑) in the North of Kyoto. Another highlight was the “Sakura Hana Matsuri” at the Hirano Shrine (平野神社) in Kyoto. I just happened to be there a few minutes before the matsuri arrived in the shrine. Truly a remarkable experience. There was a procession passing through the Sandō (参道)-The approach way leading to the main shrine- and coming to a halt in front of the Haiden (拝殿). A small ceremony was held for the return of the Kami to the Honden (本殿). The participating troupe of man and woman were all dressed in Heian style kimono.
The next stunning event was the matsuri held on Mount Yoshino in Nara. It is called the “Yoshino Hana Eshiki” (吉野花会式) procession. The participants are the famous Shugendō (修験道) ascetic mountain monks. They made their way from the Sakuramotobō (櫻本坊) to the Zaōdō hall of the Kimpusen-ji temple for the final climax of this matsuri. A dance by the oni odori (鬼踊) and the burning of a large pile wood and pine branches. After this they trow mochi kubari (餅配り) into the crowd.
Some of the other sakura hotspots where the Sewari-tei River Bank (背割堤) in Yawata, Katsuragawa Ryokuchi Park (桂川緑地) along the banks of the Katsuragawa River, the Takase River (高瀬川) along Kiyamachi Street, Tōji Temple (等持院), Suika Tenmangu Shrine (水火天満宮), the magical Momoyama Castle (伏見城) in Fushimi-ku, Tenryu-Ji Temple (天龍寺), Senkō-ji Temple (千光寺) and Jōshōkō-ji Temple (常照皇寺).
The following pictures are unpublished as of yet and I’ll be posting them in this album as time permits. Hopefully these pictures and locations will inspire you to come to Kyoto next year and enjoy the beauty of the “Cherry Season”. This is the five story pagoda (五重ノ塔) of Tōji Temple (東寺) During the 2014 Sakura Season in Kyoto.