Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Seven Shots of Sakura in Kyoto

I may have been too early to see sakura in Tokyo but two weeks later, I found myself in Kyoto, right at the peak of their sakura season. All around me, cherry blossoms in all colours were showing off with reckless abandon.   Here then are seven of my favourite shots of sakura from this trip.

1. More people than sakura at Sannen-zaka

This was my first time to be in Kyoto at the height of sakura season and I could not believe just how crowded it was.  Right in the middle of usually quiet, pretty Sannen-zaka, hordes of tourists had their cameras out, taking photos of this single towering sakura tree in full flower.

2. Vermilion pagoda and sakura at Kiyomizudera

As I was trudging my way up to the temple,  I looked up and saw Kiyomizudera's 
3 storey pagoda perfectly framed by light pink sakura blooms.  
Thanks to careful cropping, I was able to block out the crowds.

3. Sakura by the Shirakawa

All it takes is an instant and the right angle and I have a photo that looks as if I was
 the only one strolling by the Shirakawa in Gion on this lovely spring afternoon. 
 This is my favourite among all the photos that  I took.  

4. Up close and personal with the sakura

This is the 5- petaled Somei Yoshino, the most common and numerous of sakura varieties in Japan.  
The flowers range from the lightest, most delicate pink to pure white.   This particular tree was just one of many along the Shirakawa area in Gion.  

5. Under the sakura 

This stunning canopy of sakura blossoms is just the right setting for a memorable photo -- particularly  if you and your friends are all dressed up in traditional Japanese kimonos.  

6. Sakura and tea house in Nijo-jo

This almost looks like a painting -- specially if you are sitting in the tea house, contemplating 
this traditional Japanese garden accented by a riotous burst of pink sakura flowers.  

7. Falling sakura blooms at Daigo-ji 

It is fitting to end with this photo I took at Daigo-ji, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  
This temple is well known for a sakura viewing party hosted here by the great shogun 
Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1598.   I was standing by these sakura trees when a light breeze shook a shower of pink petals on all of us -- I had sakura petals on my hair, on my clothes, on my shoes!  
  Perhaps this enchanting experience was a gift from Buddha and yes, maybe Hideyoshi san too. 
And now, will you bear with me and read this haiku I wrote about the sakura?

Pink and white petals
Light breeze whispers through the trees 
Tiny dots of bliss

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