Sleepiness is no excuse to stay in bed when there is sakura to be seen!
As I've said a million times before, Kyoto is my happy place. I could go there any time, in any season, for absolutely no reason, with nothing to do, and I would be happy just being there. But Kyoto in the spring is a different beast altogether.
Experiencing Kyoto in the spring is hard to put into words. It's as if the city itself is a geiko, veiling herself with snow white sakura and soft, subtle shades of pink cherry blossoms, accented with brilliant crimson camelias, adorning herself in all the riches of spring for her biggest engagement of the year.
Cherry blossoms line the Kamogawa River, leading the way into the heart of Kyoto.
A bike ride beneath the cherry blossoms gracing the banks of the Kamogawa River and Kawaramachi-Dori.
One of the reasons I love Kyoto is because of it's walkability. Most of the time I spend there, I spend walking. I usually don't have much of a plan. I just go wherever the day leads me. Since we had just arrived in Kyoto the night before, we couldn't wait to get out and see how far along the blossoms had bloomed, and revisit all our favorite spots.
A couple debates which way to go outside the newly renovated gate to Yasaka Shrine, also known as Gion-san.
Two young women in colorful kimono on the steps leading to the gate. The girl on the left is unmarried, which is why she continues to wear the long sleeved furisode kimono. The short sleeves of the young lady on the right signify that she is indeed off the market.
Married women chat inside the temple grounds. Behind them, hundreds of poor fortunes were tied to ropes in a hope that the visitors might be able to leave there bad luck behind.
An unlucky fortune tied amongst the cherries inside the shrine.
Special lanterns hung in Gion announcing the up-coming Miyako Odori, the annual spring dance of the Gion Kobu Geisha district.
A popular hanami spot in Maruyama Koen (Park).
Two ladies try to get a shot infront of a beautiful weeping cherry.
My brother and I on Tatsumi Bashi (Bridge) over the Shirakawa stream in Gion.
When my brother tried to get a picture of me on the bridge, a small group of Japanese tourists gathered around to snap a few, too. These guys even asked if they could get a picture with me, first with their cameras and then with their cell phones. "Bijin da ne!" (You're a beauty, aren't you!) Um, not exactly boys, but arigatou! Did I mention I love Kyoto?
Many people dress in Kimono for cherry blossom viewing, especially in Kyoto. Ketai are the camera of choice!
If you're going to wear kimono, you may as well go all the way! Many tourists dress up as maiko or geisha to sightsee and have souvenier pictures taken. Most of the "geisha" people see during day are actually just tourists playing dress up!
It's also true that the size of a Japanese person's camera seems to increase proportionatly according to their age. Here a bunch of ojiisans (old men) snap away at the sakura.
Kimono-clad hanami along the Shirakawa.
The monument in rememberance of Yoshii Isamu, the poet and fellow Gion-ophile whose poem is engraved on the rock: No matter what they say, I love Gion. Even in my sleep, the sound of water flows beneath my pillow.
More coming soon!