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April 16, 2012

Flowers: Sakura in Ninnaji Temple

Ninnaji is famous for its late blossoming yaezakura. Also called "Omuro-zakura," the trees do not get taller than just two meters and the branches hang low, as if you are wading with your feet through blossom clouds. It is interesting to see the pagoda of the temple rising above these blossoms. They have been compared to Otafuku (Okame), a plain but good-natured folksy women, "who also has a low nose" (= a small nose).

[Ninnaji's pagoda among cherry blossoms]

Usually they are at their best around April 20. As an imperial temple, Ninnaji has a graceful atmosphere and that is also true for the cherry blossom festival.

Here are a few poems written about the temple and its sakura:

[Sakura in front of Ninnaji's Bell Tower]

drowsy spring
starts from
Omuro's blossoms
(Haiku by Buson) 
[nebutasa no | haru wa Omuro no | hana yori zo]

[Ninnaji's inner gate]

Ninnaji -
at my feet
blossom clouds
(Haiku by Shundei)
[Ninnaji ya | ashimoto yori zo |hana no kumo]

[Ninnaji's pagoda]

spring rain -
among the maples
graced by
young green leaves
the gate of Ninnaji
(Tanka by Yosano Akiko)
[harusame ya | aoki mebae no | utsukushiki | kaede no naka no | Ninnaji no mon]
Access: Ninnaji is close to Omuro Station on the Keifuku Kitano Line. When coming from central Kyoto, take the Hankyu Line to Shijo-Omiya and there board the Keifuku Arashiyama line; switch to the Keifuku Kitano Line in Katabiranotsuji. When coming from Osaka or Kobe, take the Hankyu Line to Saiin and change to the Keifuku Arashiyama line; again switch to the Keifuku Kitano Line in Katabiranotsuji. The Keifuku Arashiyama line also connects to the Kyoto subway in Tenjingawa Station (Randen/Uzumasa). It sounds more complicated than it is - in any case, the trains are much faster than the option of taking a bus.Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (16:30 from Dec. to Feb.)Fee: the grounds are normally free, only during cherry blossom season a fee applies. There is always a fee applicable for the Goten palace buildings, and also one for the museum.