When we stayed in Kyoto in 2012, we stayed at a machiya in a block between Shijo Dori and Oike Dori. The owners left us some information about the night blossom viewing that was happening at Nijo Castle during our stay. We’d visited the castle on our honeymoon, and it is still my favourite Japanese castle, although we haven’t been back to explore it further since that initial visit.
We almost didn’t make it to the night blossom viewing. We arrived 50 minutes before the grounds were due to close, and had to whizz around. It was pretty cold, though, so whizzing helped us to keep warm!
As we entered the grounds, the buildings looked very different in the moonlight, with low level lanterns casting stripes of light across the gravel. Quite a different view to the one we saw three years before.
Because of the cold weather, there were only a couple of trees in full bloom. The bare branches of the other trees looked spooky beneath their spotlights. The trees with blossom on also looked a little eery.
As we made our way along the paths, some of the buildings were also lit up and looked cosy and inviting across the pond.
There were also paper and bamboo lanterns on display in the shapes of different birds and animals. I liked the peacock. At the end of the stroll route were a number of temporary structures where performances had clearly been put on earlier in the evening.
I think we experienced some bad luck with the weather and the lack of blossom, as I’m sure this is a wonderful experience on a warm spring evening with the trees in full bloom. It was certainly a different experience for us. We seemed to have arrived too late to enjoy some of the other entertainment laid on, including flower arrangements and the opportunity to drink green tea in the moonlight, as well as the koto performance we missed. By the time we got to the end of the route, things were being packed up and the tannoy announcement ushered us out and home.