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Trip Report: Second Time to Japan - Sakura, Gardens and Castles

Trip Report: Second Time to Japan - Sakura, Gardens and Castles

Jun 11th, 2015, 04:26 AM
  #81  
 
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Russ, thank you so much for sharing your journey across Japan with us. It was very enjoyable to follow along, and you have given me lots to think about for your own return trip.
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Jun 20th, 2015, 09:49 PM
  #82  
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Thanks for the feedback everyone! It was a pleasure sharing and reliving the trip these past few weeks. I hope this report helps someone with their trip planning as much as other trip reports helped me.
russ_in_LA is offline  
Jun 21st, 2015, 07:29 AM
  #83  
 
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russ_in_LA--what a great report!

I'm scheduled for a two week photography journey for Sakura in late March/early April 2016. I've bookmarked your report and will be revisiting as that time approaches. I've only been to Tokyo on a 36 hour stop over in the past; It will be fun to savor Japan more fully. As hard core photographers, we'll be up and ready for pictures at 4:30 AM, so hopefully will beat some of those crowds you so colorfully described. Thanks for all your efforts in putting together your report.
BostonHarbor is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 09:33 PM
  #84  
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Thanks Boston! I'm sure you'll have a great time. Be sure to post a report and a link to your photos for us to enjoy as well!
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Sep 27th, 2015, 10:15 PM
  #85  
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OK, so they are only from an iPhone, but here is a link to my instagram pics from the last two Japan trips, plus way too many sunsets and clouds in LA and Palm Springs. You have to go back about 30 photos to get to the end of trip #2 from this year, and of course, they are then in reverse chronological order.

https://instagram.com/russ_i/
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Sep 28th, 2015, 06:28 AM
  #86  
 
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Your account is private - just sent a request to follow.
crosscheck is offline  
Sep 28th, 2015, 07:24 AM
  #87  
 
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Russ-

Just saw this while taking a quick mental break at work. I had been away from the Japan forums for probably a good year so am just learning now of your second trip. Looking forward to reading this at home when I have more time. I'm looking forward to a second trip myself, hopefully within the next 5 years. In the meantime, Costa Rick beckons in January, with Morocco following in April!
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Sep 28th, 2015, 07:25 AM
  #88  
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Oops! I just set it to public (and accepted your request).
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Sep 28th, 2015, 07:31 AM
  #89  
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Hi MinnBeef, Nice to see you back! I'm trying hard to focus on some other trips, but the Japan bug has bitten me hard, so I'm putting together fantasy itineraries for a third trip, which I'm sure will be a few years off. In the meantime we are off to Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls and Rio in November, and I think Thailand in 2016. We loved Morocco (please be sure you go to Fez), and Costa Rica, so I'm sure you will have great trips. Hope you enjoy the second report!
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Sep 28th, 2015, 10:39 AM
  #90  
 
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Russ, I hear you! We are planning our 3rd trip (for April 2016) right now! I know there's the rest of the world but... JAPAN!
Kavey is offline  
Sep 28th, 2015, 05:30 PM
  #91  
 
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Russ,loving the report thus far. I'm up through the tea ceremony and play in Kyoto. Sakura sounds fantastic, but I've always heard that the timing of it is very short. Is it shorter than koyo? I guess the bigger question is how much variability is peak season from year to year? If one chooses the first two weeks of April to travel, are you almost guaranteed to hit good viewing time?

I LOVED Hotel Mume! Those ladies couldn't have been kinder or more helpful. I can't recall the owner's name, other than it began with an "H". Are she and Yoshie still there? I would not want to stay anywhere else when I travel back to Kyoto.
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Sep 28th, 2015, 05:59 PM
  #92  
 
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And yes to Fes. It is absolutely on my Morocco itinerary, along with Chefchaouen, Volubilis, Marrakech, the High Atlas, Essaouira and just enough time in Casablanca to see the Hassan II mosque before flying home.
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Sep 29th, 2015, 04:50 PM
  #93  
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Hi MinnBeef,

The peak viewing period for the sakura is about 2 weeks, with the peak bloom starting about a week after first opening and lasting about a week to 10 days, and a few days past that with falling blooms, which also has its charms.

The good thing is that different areas peak at different times, so while Tokyo might be past peak, Kanazawa or Matsumoto would just be starting peak bloom period, with elevation having a major impact on timing. Also, the weeping cherries bloom later than the more common (Yoshino, I think) cherries, so you can still see peak blooms on those varieties after the majority of other have passed their peak.

As for the best time to go, I based my trip on the average blooming dates, which you can find in the follow link, by scrolling down.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2011_when.html

You can compare this to the link below, which showed the actual bloom dates, which were 4 to 5 days ahead of the average.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2011.html

The bottom line is, if you plan on being in Tokyo or Kyoto on the first week of April, you will probably be in great shape, but if they are ahead of schedule, you are still within a 2 hour train ride to areas that will not yet have peaked.
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Sep 29th, 2015, 07:42 PM
  #94  
 
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MinnBeef, The first time I was in Japan was for the whole month of April and I saw sakura everywhere for the first half of the month. This last time (my third in Japan) I was there just for four days from March 27-31 as part of a work trip to other parts of Asia. We started in Tokyo, where luckily for us they peaked early, then went to Hakone, passing through many towns and cities that were nearing their peak. As russ said, you should might be fine for the first two weeks of April. Remember though that the crowds are out of control in some places.
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Sep 30th, 2015, 04:29 PM
  #95  
 
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Russ-

I really enjoyed reading through the rest of your trip report. I agree with the others-you have a real talent. It was great fun to read about your experiences in the places I had visited and to learn new things about the places I have yet to get to. Everyone who knows me knows that I'm an "all in" kind of guy and your report has inspired me to make Japan for Sakura my 2017 destination. Like you, I feel like I have "unfinished business" with Japan and am excited to begin the research on that. (Even while I'm still researching Costa Rica and Morocco for 2016!)

By the way, were Hisako and Yoshie still at Mume? That place was fabulous.
MinnBeef is offline  
Sep 30th, 2015, 04:40 PM
  #96  
 
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Russ and Crosscheck-

Thanks for the confirmation of rough time periods for Sakura viewing. I would want to be home for Easter which in 2017 is on April 16. So doing some rough math in my head, I'm thinking that perhaps a late March departure, starting in the south of Japan (perhaps Kyushu) and working my way north to eventually depart from Tokyo might work out well. I'm totally inspired here!
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Oct 10th, 2015, 11:19 AM
  #97  
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Hi MinnBeef,

Glad to help. Yes, Hisako and Yoshi are still at Mume (I believe Hisako is the owner, if I'm not mistaken). As usual, they were gracious, kind and excellent hosts. Enjoy planning your next trip!
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Jun 22nd, 2017, 07:56 PM
  #98  
 
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Russ, I'm up late reading this report after having read your first one and wondering about whether I should take Takayama out of the trip I'm planning for mid-July and add a night to Kanazawa. As it stands, we have two nights in Kanazawa and I was reducing Tokyo to three nights (thanks to the wise counsel on this forum) to add a night in Takayama before going to Kanazawa. However, there seem to be so very many things to do in Kanazawa (as other very knowledgable Fodorites mentioned in the early parts of my planning) and my husband will be in meetings and may not get to see them. Plus, the outdoor museum there seems to have a smaller counterpart in Kanazawa. So uncertain about the best way to do this.
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Jun 25th, 2017, 06:03 PM
  #99  
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I'm not sure how many nights you have allocated for each, but for me 3 nights in Kanazawa was perfect for what we wanted to see and do, and 2 nights perfect for Takayama. We did them each on different trips. If it helps you choose one destination over the other, I think that the old town portion of Takayama slightly edges out that of Kanazawa, but for the sheer variety and number of things to see and do, Kanazawa would be my first choice.
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