Part of the point of coming at this time of year was to find sakura, the cherry in full blossom. For that to happen, we needed to arrive in a very small window of time, and hope that the blossom co-operated. For a time it seemed as though we may not achieve that, as in city after city the trees seemed to be holding their breath until after we had left, but here things were ridiculous. The trees, obviously tired of holding their breaths had let them out with a collective WOOOSH!
They more than beautiful now, they are actually quite arrogantly standing in front of everything we want to see, bringing thousands of people to the same places we want to be. Even the stunning Kenrokuen Garden, one of the three best in Japan has thrown open its gates, amazingly allowing visitors in at no cost for the duration of the blossom, which is tantamount to our western eyes to Woolies giving away free eggs at Easter.
Lunch under blossom scavenged from the food stands in the park seemed like a compulsory activity, although for a little respite from blossom clad gardens and castles, in the afternoon we did venture indoors to a gold leaf museum for a dose of sparkle of a different kind.
Perhaps as a complete contrast to the day, a few hardy souls ventured a visit to the Myoriuji temple known as the Ninja Temple for it’s amazing array of secret passageways, trick doors and pitfalls. It truly was difficult to believe during our visit that this was a genuine fortified construction and not some sort of sideshow with it’s forty-five rooms and forty-nine staircases. The special room for Hari Kiri did add a fairly sombre note, bringing us down to earth a bit with its door that couldn’t be opened from within, used historically by those failed warriors whose particular cheery blossoms would never see another summer.