When I went to Japan in December 2016, sakura were the last thing on my mind. The flowers are famously known to last for just a short while in spring, colouring the whole country bright pink. It’s a bit of a bummer, since I always have school during sakura season, making travelling nearly impossible.
While in Kyoto, my friends and I decided to head over to Kitano Tenmangu shine, which was nearby the university we were going to, that was selling dried plums for the new year. Along the way, there was a much smaller shrine called Hirano shrine that we came across.
The shrine was tiny, deserted and didn’t look particularly interesting. Even so, we had time to kill, and decided to take a look. Unbeknownst to us, inside awaited a wonderful surprise – sakura trees! And I know what you’re thinking – it’s just a bunch of bald trees. Well you can only imagine how shocked I was to see the flowers for myself.
I still didn’t fully believe it, so we confirmed it with one of the priests there. He told us it was actually a variety that bloomed twice a year, in spring as usual and during autumn, and sporadically even in winter. So if you plan to visit around this time, definitely check out this shrine!
You can experience the one thing that Japan is best known for, at a time where you can also experience the beauty of autumn! The trees were a bit sparse when we visited as they are usually in full bloom in November, but it was still pretty awesome, especially since we literally entered the shrine on a whim.
Sakurayama Park in Gunma prefecture is actually famous for these winter sakura, which coincide with the fall colours resulting in some seriously beautiful scenery. They can also be found at Jomine Park, in Saitama Prefecture (official website) which is ideal for a day trip from Tokyo!
So during your next fall/winter trip to Japan, do consider looking out for these sakura trees, especially if you have yet to experience them in spring!