Yoshino : 30,000 wild cherry trees and a chance to see late blooming flowers.
Perhaps you are a little disappointed to have arrived in Kansai just after the cherry blossom season has ended ; perhaps you enjoyed the blossom so much that you didn’t quite get your fill, well, fear not : head to Yoshino!
Mt. Yoshino is located in Nara Prefecture. It’s accessible from Kyoto or Osaka via the Kintetsu railway company. Yoshino is perhaps Japan’s most famous cherry blossom site. Unlike the usual neat rows of trees lining canals, lone tree artistically framing a temple or city parks with their planted cherry trees (with a view to the trade future hanami parties would bring). Yoshino is all about nature: 30,000 wild trees spread over the dips and peaks of Mount Yoshino in the second to third week of April.
The cherry blossom-lined route
You can take a shuttle bus or the cable car (both 360 yen one-way) to avoid walking up the slope between Yoshino station and the town proper but the queues may put you off. Instead, why not enjoy walking along the blossom-lined route?
The Yoshino area is divided into four areas. Shimo Senbon (下千本) and Naka Senbon (中千本) are the lower areas and Kami senbon (上千本) and Oku senbon (奥千本) are at the top of the mountain. There are temples and shrines to enjoy, but the town of Yoshino at the base of the mountain and the lower areas are rather touristy. After admiring the famous view up the pink mountain face from Yoshimizu Shrine in Naka senbon, head up the mountain slope, leaving the throng behind and enjoying the various viewpoints and parks.
About one hour on foot from the top of the cable car area, you will reach Kami senbon and the lovely panoramic views from Hanayagura View Point. If you have timed your visit just right, I’d stop here as the higher level Oku senbon does not have as many cherry trees. Also, unexpectedly, there isn’t a view of the blossom-lined lower slope. However, if you find you have arrived after peak blossom, the later blooming trees in the Oku area and the Takagiyama Observation Deck are another 30 minutes on foot.
The world heritage mountain
The whole Mt. Yoshino is registered as World Heritage. You can also visit various World Heritage Buildings including Yoshino Mikumari Shrine, Kinpu Shrine, Kinpusenji Temple and Yoshimizu Shrine.
Not only spring Cherry blossom but hydrengea, autumn leaves and snowing landscape are also magnificent.
Yoshino town kindly provides a “sakura watch” guide to the blossoming state of the flowers. Yes, an “only in Japan” thing, but very helpful nonetheless. The four sections are the Shimo/Naka/Kami/Oku areas respectively http://www.town.yoshino.nara.jp/kanko-event/kanouki/kaika/
Access : From Osaka: Osaka Abenobashi station to Yoshino (90 minutes, express train, 970 yen/75 minutes limited express 1,480 yen requires reservation)
Info : A Kansai thru pass can be used if you pay a 430 yen supplement.
Cable car : from 9:20 a.m. to 5:40 p.m.
Buses : from 9:40 a.m. to 4:57 p.m.
Lit-up : from 6 to 10pm during peak seasons