Sakura in Kyoto, 2014
After the grand production last year, I really wanted to do a low-key hanami this time around. Last year, I didn’t make it to Kyoto in time before the sakura fell, so this trip was my second time seeing them in the city (since coming to Japan three years ago). On the day of this trip, all the weather reports predicted a high chance of rain — while it did drizzle slightly at one point, it was blue skies for the rest of the day. (Moral of the story: Kyoto will always surprise you)
My travel buddy this time around was the sweet KT, who lives and works in the “city” next to mine. She probably quietly freaked out when I asked her to be my model for the day, but then she agreed anyway (hehe).
Our first stop was to the little-known Keage Incline in the eastern part of Kyoto. There used to be a railway station there, but with the introduction of the subway, it fell into disuse and was eventually abandoned.
Abandoned railway stations don’t necessarily attract crowds, particularly when everyone has limited time and are lining up to visit the more popular locations in Kyoto. However, Keage Incline is an exception.
While it was more crowded than I had imagined, one of the benefits of Keage is the slanted ground — even if many people are in front of you, you can still get a good view of the landscape. Another benefit is that you can actually get quite close to the sakura trees themselves.
(We even saw a couple taking their pre-wedding pictures here!)
It should be noted that I took only my 45mm f1.8 lens with me on this trip. I’ve realized that if I don’t force myself to go out with one lens at a time, I will stick to my default zoom lens and never touch my prime.
As expected, I missed a number of shots due to its focal length, but the pictures I did get were very blog-worthy. I really have a love-hate relationship with this lens…
Remember how I asked KT to be my model? I put her to work right away. It must have been weird since I was standing so far away (ugh, 45mm!) and we had to constantly wait for people to move out of my frame, but I’m quite happy with the end results!
It was a nice day, so we took a walk to a bus stop that would get us from Keage Incline to our next location. We strolled along the river for part of the way too!
Both of us had never been to Ginkaku-ji (the Silver Pavilion Temple), so we took this chance to look around. There was a steady crowd there, but we got lucky and joined the entrance queue right before 10 other people lined up behind us!
KT and I had a good chat while we walked through the temple paths. My knowledge of Ginkaku-ji was a bit lacking, so nothing really stood out to me. We very quickly finished a circuit around the complex, then made a stop at the omiyage shop (haha).
Since it was the sakura season, the nearby Philosopher’s Path was a hub of activity and teemed with tourists all intent on walking along the stream and enjoying the many trees there.
It was a bit of a rush, but we went all the way out to Arashiyama on the opposite side of Kyoto. It was another new place for both KT and me — I really wanted to see the famous bamboo forest there. However, what we saw there wasn’t quite what I had expected…
Either parts of the grove had been “trimmed” or certain areas had been blocked off — either way, the forest we wandered though was not nearly as plentiful nor as large as other people had made it seem. I’m still not convinced I’ve seen the entire forest yet, so I will probably go back later this year…
By now it was getting close to “golden hour” and after an entire day wandering around with me, KT was considerably more relaxed around my camera.
Without really planning it, we had ended up on a street that ran east-west; just then, a particularly beautiful ray of light lit up the entire area…
We had some time before we had to board our limited express trains back to Mie Prefecture, so we returned to Gion for dinner and one last walk through Maruyama Park.
Compared to the last time I saw this tree, this time it was far more magical. We were there at its peak, and this famous 65-year-old shidarezakura tree did not disappoint! (Also, I was pleasantly surprised the 45mm did so well under these conditions.)
This post has taken a while to upload, but better late than never, right? This marks my 4th official trip out with the 45mm since I bought it almost a year ago (clearly, I love my zoom lens too much). I’m getting better at making the type of pictures I want with it, but it still has some issues I’m trying to work through.
Either way, I would say this trip to Kyoto was successful, especially since it turned out that it was my only chance to enjoy the sakura this year (I was too busy during the rest of the season).— * —
In other news, I found a job! I will be officially living and working in Kobe (!!!) as of August. It’s still sinking in that I will be in a big city again (and can access all the conveniences and pleasures of urban life). The best part is I will still be in the Kansai region, and closer than ever to my beloved Kyoto.
This blog will probably also undergo a slight change after I settle down, which is why I really rushed to publish these last couple of posts before the end of July. Fingers crossed the transition will be smooth and I can adjust quickly to my new city!
See you in Kobe!— * —