Hirano Jinja Hanami

You know, I thought I was done posting about the fleeting beauty of spring blossoms. I guess that’ll show me, eh?

We’ve been blessed with some gorgeous weather in Kyoto lately. Think 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) and not a cloud in the sky. This is unusual because normally around cherry blossom season, we get one or two days of being able to check the sakura out before the rain knocks them all down. This time, we had almost an entire week of uninterrupted sunshine.

Which is fortunate, because if we hadn’t, I might not have been able to get to Hirano Shrine.Hirano small 003

This shrine was recommended to me by a student who was shocked I hadn’t been there before. After the student urged me to see the blossoms, I gathered a group of friends and off we went to investigate.

If you’ve been up around Kitanotenmangu Shrine before, Hirano is about a 5-10 minute walk away, and is free to enter. I’d recommend checking it out even if it’s not spring, because the grounds are pleasant to walk through. That said, I’ve found another new favorite cherry blossom place!Hirano small 001

Upon entering the gates, I was greeted with a row of food stands and spots for people to sit and enjoy a drink. The cherry blossom trees leaned over this row, looking for all the world like a natural 商店街 (shotengai, or covered shopping street). As you go from stand to stand, checking out the fried chicken, yakisoba, and other goodies on sale, you find yourself eventually at the front of the proper shrine itself.

When I first entered, I thought I would see maybe one or two large trees. I had no idea that there would be a garden full of blossoms. It was almost overwhelming; there were so many potential shots you could take with your camera. Hirano small 004

The only downside was that there weren’t any free spots to sit down and just enjoy the blossoms. All the ground space was pretty much taken up by stands and whatnot that fenced off “their” area; if you stopped in to sit for even a few seconds, a waitress would rush over to hand you a menu and ask you to order something. If you don’t mind walking–or if you don’t mind dropping 500 yen for a beer–this is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon or early evening.

So! That wraps it up for the spring blossoms for this year. Where did you go? What did you see, and do you recommend it?

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