Frozen moments from the infinity that is time

Cherry Blossoms Everywhere (Kyoto)


Objects that attract admiration and generate excitement are typically those that have a measure of rarity; yet this does not apply to Japan’s cherry blossoms, except in the sense that the season is short. Indeed, in terms of supply, cherry blossom is ubiquitous. They can be found almost everywhere. In public and private spaces; in avenues of serenely subtle colour and as solitary trees lighting up otherwise desolate places; in urban and rural areas; and in meticulously tended gardens or growing untended in their natural habitat.

Wherever they are found, they enhance the space and draw attention to their surroundings. To demonstrate this I have chosen a selection of photographs taken at various Kyoto locations, which contain two common subjects, namely buildings and cherry blossoms.

The first four photographs featuring old buildings are scenes that have doubtless been enjoyed for many seasons. The welcoming view of the Sakura blossoms framed by the temple entrance (pic 1) is an invitation to enter and enjoy an interlude of quiet contemplation. By contrast, the magnificent Sakura highlighted against the classic dark timbers of old Japanese temple buildings (pic 2) stops one in one’s tracks to enjoy the visual feast. Nevertheless, the sight of blossoms through the temple doors then draws one’s attention inwards.

The Hanami scene (pic 3) is another example of a beautiful Sakura tree, framed in this instance by the structure of the Sanmon Gate, itself the subject of an earlier post (January 27, 2014) where this photograph was previously shown. Completing the sequence of sakura and older buildings is Renge-ji (pic 4), a small temple admired for its gardens and where the Buddha statues appear to be savouring the visual feast within which they reside.

I am unsure as to the history of the old industrial building (pic 5) located near the Keage Incline – a favoured Hanami spot in Kyoto. The building’s proximity suggests it may have been part of the infrastructure for the Lake Biwa canal network, though every time I passed I couldn’t help but imagine a future life as modern loft-style apartments. Residents would wake to a wonderful view at this time of year.

Pics 6 and 7 show a wide and closer shot of Sakura trees lining the canal running alongside Kyoto’s International Exhibition Hall, where the modern architecture and the timeless Sakura coexist harmoniously in yet another example of Japan’s ability to blend the old with the new.

Following is a series of five shots (pics 8 to 12) of private residences alongside the Philosopher’s Path – another popular Hanami location, as well as a pleasant walk at any time. The Sakura show an ability to enhance various architectural styles and building materials, such as timber, corrugated metal and masonry.

This ability to enhance is further shown at pics 13 and 14, where older style buildings are lifted by the neighbouring presence of cherry blossoms in bloom. Finally, at pic 15, a contemporary apartment building is similarly lifted, suggesting that whatever direction future building developments take, there will always be a place for the ubiquitous and inspiring Sakura.

(Please click on any of the following images for an enlarged view.)


Author: johnliddlephotography

Photography reflects how I see the world around me. I respond to images that interest me, which can be anything ... people, places, colour, texture ... anything at all. By sharing my photos through this blog I know that viewers will see based on their life experiences. That is the wonder of photography ... one image ... many interpretations.

6 thoughts on “Cherry Blossoms Everywhere (Kyoto)

  1. Hi John,
    A wondrously uplifting balm of a visual treat, as always♥

    I love how this post is in its heart a beautiful tribute to the timeless allure of the sakura.
    That no matter the direction of progress that Japan chooses for herself, the sakura will always feature as an integral part of her identity alongside almost any facet of civilization (be it in terms of architecture, culture or its festivals, or alignment with the natural elements like seasons) and its subtle reminder of Nature’s all-encompassing presence in our fragile lives.

    Thank you, as always, for this precious gem of a post and take good care, too.
    p.s. As an aside, I have since stopped secretly anticipating to pick one – or a few – personal faves amongst your array of captures, my friend. You make it near-impossible to choose one amongst all these delightful gems. I gotta confess that I love ’em all.

  2. Hi B,
    Thank you for your thoughtful interpretation and generous words. Sometimes one sees more clearly through a camera lens and although one could have composed potentially interesting shots from the buildings alone, one soon realises that in the presence of the sakura, the buildings become backdrops. On a more melancholy note, one feels a tinge of sadness that other nations and cultures do not celebrate their local seasonal gifts as the Japanese celebrate and revere the sakura.

  3. John,
    How true… I do find myself agreeing, too.

    I guess composing a photograph to capture that original magic of wonderment (in this case, for example), which first enraptures our minds gives us some amount of power (a little like the creative prowess of Prospero) to re-present by a frozen moment in time what we experienced for later recollection or friends even while photography presents its own exciting challenge of incorporating elements of the environment.

    However, like you thoughtfully put it, the ubiquitous elegance of the sakura is something that almost always overshadows everything else the eye notices – such is its timeless beauty.

    Yes, the Japanese way of gracefully acknowledging the importance and wondrous beauty of the seasons in life is something so many cultures shall have to learn anew. (Perhaps, it is something we regularly do as children. And then, some form of social conditioning kicks in and we stop taking delight in the beauty of the everyday wonders of the world around us. Perhaps.)

    Also, there are countries like mine, where we know no seasons (or at least, not by the names of spring, summer, autumn and winter oft used the world over) – we have rainy days and sunny days.

    And so, in my starry eyes, anything to do with the changing seasons is especially magical, each bringing its gifts of beauty and wisdom, alongside the challenges that humans learn to cope with in extremes of clime, too.
    Nature is always a grand and beautiful teacher, I feel – here before us all and that will live on long after us, too.
    Do take good care and stay well.

    • Hi B,
      Your words “Nature is always a grand and beautiful teacher” are so true and will continue to be so. As you say, nature has preceded us and will succeed us. Everything we need is provided, not necessarily in a usable form and the history of mankind is that of unlocking nature’s secrets and adapting them to our needs. Our challenge is to ensure that our adaptations do not irreversibly disrupt the balance. I prefer to think optimistically that we will meet the challenge.

  4. Greetings! Very uѕeful advice in thiѕ particular post!
    It іs the little changеs that prоduce the bіggest changeѕ.
    Many tɦanks for sharing!

  5. ӏ could not resist commenting. Well written!

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