Where does the time go? This post series has been in the making for almost a month now, but the sheer number of photos taken on this trip has been a daunting editing task, let alone life and work and craft projects getting in the way. Thanks a lot, Pinterest.
Anyway, in early April, we set off with 3 other couples to Osaka and Kyoto, Japan to see the famous cherry blossoms in prime-time. Some people call it a “festival”, but as we would come to find out, it’s really just one particular weekend that is forecast months in advance to have most of the blooms open at the right point for optimal viewing. There is no collective organization to make it a festival, it’s really just finding parks and shrines around town with the best trees.
I should mention that the first time we got together for coffee and met each other, the four of us ladies booked flights and hotels together for this trip. We were all really excited about seeing this lovely springtime spectacle, and found round trip flights for little over $100 on Peach Airlines, so it was a done deal. That may have come back to bite us with travel woes; however, that’s a story I will save for later. As the days got closer to departure, the weather was looking great, until it wasn’t. About two days before we left all we could see was 55 degrees and rainy – not what you want to hear when your entire trip is counting on good weather.
Luckily for us, the rain held out during the day, and our plane ride on the way there was easy. Though we arrived in the evening, we were able to enjoy some good food in Osaka and square away our departure point to take a train to Kyoto the next morning. Aside from travel arrangements coming back, the most challenging part of this trip was that we didn’t have a plan for the exact parts of Kyoto we would head to. In retrospect, it seems silly, but we sort of had the impression that we’d get off the train station in Kyoto and the cherry blossoms would just be there. You know, look left, look right, just there.
We exited the train station to see crowds of people in line for buses that we could only guess would take you to the various cherry blossom viewing points. Now, let me clarify, we did research where in Kyoto were the best places for cherry blossom viewing, but I just can’t escape the fact that we had some naiive impression that Kyoto would be a cute walking town. Once we deduced that this was not the case, we hopped in a couple of taxis and used our savvy technology skills to show the driver where we wanted to go in Japanese. We made it around town pretty easy using this method, but it probably would have been a lot more expensive if we weren’t all splitting the cost.
Note to future travelers: plan your cherry blossom trip and give yourself a more than 48 hours on the ground – you’ll have a lot more built-in time to make mistakes and still see what you came there for. Another note: No matter what you do, you cannot control the weather. Hopefully our next trip will go a little easier on us!
Regardless of the setbacks, we had a pretty great day in the blossoms, as evidenced by our photos. We spent a lot of time playing with our cameras and modeling for each other, of course. We even stopped to get some amazing dumplings and edamame to enjoy in a popular picnic spot. I made light conversation with the dumpling guy, and he was pretty funny, not to mention a good cook. Earlier in the day, we had separated from Sean and Krista, but they managed to find us in the picnic spot and even photobomb a tripod shot I had set up. It turned out to be one of my favorites from the trip.
We went to a couple of different spots around town and walked the Philosopher’s path, which was a tunnel of cherry blossom trees over this sweet little river with a promenade. Though it was quite packed with tourists, it was a nice little stroll and a great location for some photos.
We also saw several girls dressed in traditional Japanese attire, and got to pop in a group photo with a couple of them. I was seriously jealous of their hair. We even got to see a Geisha ringing a bell to offer her respects at one of the shrines, and two more traditional Japanese weddings, which are always incredible to watch. One of the grooms was even a Western guy, pretty cool! Another site to see was the rickshaw drivers running families around. Notice the blanket and our coats – even though the sun came out, it was still a chilly day.
Oh yeah, a lady was selling balloons and Dustin’s purchase made its appearance in several photos throughout the day. Back to our childhood love of Power Rangers, of course.
With cherry blossom viewing decidedly accomplished, we decided to head to one of the more famous destinations in Kyoto, the Fushimi Inari shrine in all it’s orange and black glory. I’ll share some photos and video of that soon. It was an experience in and of itself. Speaking of, my goal has been to finish blogging about each trip before the next one sneaks up on me. We’re headed out again next week, so let’s see if I can get this done! I’m excited to share more of beautiful Japan with you and a special group activity I think you’ll enjoy.