Yae-zakura (八重桜) – Double-layer Cherry Blossom

There are many kinds of  cherry blossom. Yae-Zakura is a double-layer type of sakura which is famous for its beauty and strength. The normal type of one-layer sakura tends to be fragile and easily be blown away by strong wind or rain. I believe that a lot of us have never heard or seen this type of sakura before.

I recently visited Osaka castle wanting to see some sakura but sadly the storm had blown all the blossoms away. However, I did found this one tree of Yae-Zakura that was still full of blossoms. This type of sakura is just truly beautiful! Definitely worthwhile to see.

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I have read somewhere before that it used to be found only in Nara prefecture and mostly up on Yoshino (吉野) mountain where you can go up by rope way to view the whole mountain full of beautiful cherry blossoms. But these days, it seems to be found everywhere. I also found some information about where to see Yae-Zakura in Osaka. Apparently, there are some exhibitions and places to see this particular type of sakura.  Yae-zakura blooms a bit later than the normal sakura and the exhibition is only opened to public officially when they are in full bloom. The hanami may have been over but Yae-zakura is still here!

Where to see: Japan Mint – Osaka Head Office. This organization is an Incorporated Administrative Agency where coins, medals, metallic art objects and others are produced. You can visit the factory and see the facilities and how the objects are produced. This sounds a bit strange as a place to display Yae-zakura but the special thing about this place is not the metallic objects they produce but the fact that it has so many Yae-Zakura trees inside the place.

This year, the official opening for cherry blossom viewing is from April 16th to 22nd. Every night, the lanterns are also turned on so you can enjoy beautiful night views of sakura. Hopefully, I’ll get to visit when the event starts! 🙂

Info on the official event: http://www.mint.go.jp/enjoy-eng/sakura-eng/toorinuke-eng/eng_osaka_viewing2013.html

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Kiyomizudera (清水寺), Kyoto (京都) – Beautiful all year round

Recently, I just moved from Yokohama/Tokyo to Osaka for less than a week. I’m still not at all familiar with life in Kansai yet. However, the good thing about being in Osaka is that it is close to many great places in Japan – Kobe, Nara, Kyoto, etc. So many places to explore. All my weekend schedules are now filled. 🙂

This is probably the 7th time I visited Kyoto ever since I came to Japan and this temple is one of places I never miss every time I go – Kiyomizudera (清水寺), one of the most celebrated temples in Kyoto. Kyoto is definitely one of my favorite cities in Japan. It is an old city with so many beautiful temples and  historic places. Everything is just so charming here.

I came to this temple many times in different seasons. First time in winter..then fall, summer and now spring. Summer is not recommended since the sun will burn you like you are on the beach. Spring and fall are probably the best seasons to visit especially fall when the leaves turn yellow and orange. This temple is just magical in so many ways I can never explain. It is huge and the view from the temple is just amazing.

How to get there: Kyoto station -> Bus number 100 or 206 to Gojo-zaka (五条坂) or Kiyomizu-michi (清水道) stop. Each ride is 220 yen so it is recommended to buy 500 yen 1 day bus ticket.

From the bus stop, you can walk up to the temple. Along the way, there are many shops you can buy Japanese souvenirs, snacks, ice cream and others. One thing I always have to buy here is the Kyoto famous snacks- Yatsuhashi (八ツ橋). It is a thin slice of flour..mochi-like snack with stuffed flavor inside. If you don’t want to buy, don’t worry! Go try some they give out for free with a cup of tea. 😉

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I have some of the pictures from my earlier trip to Kiyomizudera in winter and the recent one in spring. Can’t remember where I put other photos from other trips. You can see that this temple is beautiful all year round.

Winter 2010

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Spring 2013

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Now in spring, sakura is visible and it goes perfectly with the temple. Just beautiful!

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(I wanted to sit on this guy’s spot and take a picture! oh well…)

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Sakura viewing – Hanami in Tokyo!

This year, sakura (桜) started to bloom a bit earlier than it usually does. Normally, sakura should be in full bloom around early April, just in time for entrance ceremony (入学式-nyugakushiki) for schools in Japan. But this year, the season has started from mid-March which is around the time for graduation ceremony (卒業式-sotsugyoushiki). This probably explains why there are a lot of girls in “Hakama (袴)”, a Japanese costume for graduation ceremony, taking photos with beautiful sakura scene.

I used to live in Beppu city, a small city in Oita prefecture, for about 3.5 years. Every year, our only option was always Beppu park (別府公園). So I got a bit excited when sakura started to bloom this year having heard that there are so many good spots here in Tokyo. Last year, I was also away for a company training in Nagano (長野県), a famous city for skiing and winter activities. Therefore, I can say that this year is actually my first time for sakura spotting in Tokyo.

When we talk about going out picnic under the sakura trees or just simple going for a walk along the river with beautiful sakura and others, the word ‘hanami (花見)’ is used. This word literally means ‘flower-viewing’, hana (花)= ‘flower’ and mi (見)= ‘see’ from the verb ‘mi-ru (見る)’ . Thus,  in other words, it means flowers viewing which is particularly imply to sakura.

This time, I visited two places for hanami in Tokyo: Naka-meguro and Yoyogi park.

  • Yoyogi park

Yoyogi park is a famous park in the city center of Tokyo. The closest JR station is Harajuku- one of the most famous shopping area so, it is always packed with people during this season. This time, my friend and I decided to walk into the park just to see the sakura. We did not expect to sit down and have a picnic under the sakura tree at all since we can predict that the park is already full of people. We took a lot of pictures. It was enjoyable just to see beautiful sakura and people having fun with their families and friends. 🙂

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  • Naka-meguro

I have heard a lot of good things about Naka-meguro. It is located in meguro-ku and is only one station away from Shibuya on a rapid train on Tokyu-Toyoko line which is the line I use to commute everyday. The sakura view here is famous since there are sakura trees are along both sides of meguro river. It is an amazing view. 🙂 I had the best time there. I can say it was the best hanami I’ve ever had. The whole area was so beautiful with all the sakura in full bloom. It looks kind of like a sea or a huge cloud of pinkish-white sakura. I can just walk there all day. There are many interesting shops, cafes and food carts all around, too. So the hanami experience in Naka-meguro is definitely worthwhile.

Moreover, in Naka-meguro, they have lanterns hanging on the branches of sakura trees. They light them up at night during sakura festival. This year the festival starts from April 7th which is too late for the season this year. All the sakura will probably be gone by then…

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Some other good spots I have heard of:

1) Shinjuku Gyoen, 2) Ueno park, 3) Sumida park, 4) Inokashira park

…and so many others. Enjoy your hanami everybody!

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