NARA’S CHERRY BLOSSOMS
MUST-SEE SPOTS SWATHED IN A FLOWERY CARPET
Nara Prefecture in the Kansai region — home to Japan’s ancient capitals — boasts renowned cherry blossom-viewing sites, some of which have yet to be fully explored by international visitors. People can make the most of spring travel at these prime destinations, while local cuisine and traditional sweets will only serve to make the experience more enjoyable. From Osaka and Kyoto, Kintetsu Railway Co. (https://www.kintetsu.co.jp/foreign/english/) train services are a convenient means of getting around. Discount tickets such as the “Kintetsu Rail Pass” are well worth investigating.
This mountain in the town of Yoshino is one of Japan’s most renowned cherry blossom-viewing spots. Around 30,000 cherry trees representing about 200 species color the mountain. People will see Mount Yoshino transformed in order from the lower, middle and upper sections as spring progresses.
Access: About 10 minutes from Yoshino Station on the Kintetsu Yoshino Line
Former site of Koriyama Castle
Visitors are invited to the city of Yamatokoriyama to witness perfect cherry blossoms on display at this restored castle, originally built in 1580, and its surroundings. The annual castle festival that coincides with the blooming flowers attracts many visitors.
Access: About 10 minutes from Kintetsu-Koriyama Station on the Kintetsu Kashihara Line
Shigisan Chogosonshiji temple
People can enjoy viewing cherry blossoms in a different atmosphere — namely, evening — when around 2,000 stone lanterns are lit at this temple on Mount Shigi in the town of Heguri.
Access: Via bus from Takayasuyama Station on the Kintetsu Cable Car Nishishigi Line
Said to date back to the seventh century, this stone chamber and underground circular tomb in the village of Asuka is surrounded by some 60 cherry trees. Night illuminations offer an unforgettable experience.
Access: Via bus from Asuka Station on the Kintetsu Yoshino Line
Famous for its wooden 13-story pagoda, this shrine and its immediate surrounds in the city of Sakurai are home to about 500 cherry trees. People can appreciate the extraordinary combination of spring flowers and the pagoda, a designated Important Cultural Property.
Access: Via bus from Sakurai Station on the Kintetsu Osaka Line
This temple in the city of Sakurai, a “sacred temple of flowers” features many species of seasonal flowers around the grounds. Visitors can see various types of cherry trees, including 150 weeping cherry trees and 300 mountain cherry trees.
Access: About 15 minutes from Hasedera Station on the Kintetsu Osaka Line