First Timer to Japan: Gardens and Cherry Blossoms

Earlier this year, my partner and I went on a two-week adventure to Japan for my 30th birthday year. It’s been a dream of mine to visit Japan and explore all its cultural and natural wonders. I haven’t done any travel blogging in ages, so I thought that a small photo series of my discoveries in Japan could be helpful for others who are in the midst of planning their first trip to Japan.

I’m a spring baby so we wanted to go in March/April to coincide with my birthday. I have always wanted to see the bloom of the cherry blossoms and I was a bit nervous if they would be blooming that early in the season. We kept watch of the calendar and felt pretty confident that we would see the sakura (cherry blossoms) in a few of the cities we choose to visit. And boy, did we ever! But, let’s start at the beginning…


The first morning we had in Tokyo, we spent in the forest park near Harajuku. It was the perfect, calming antidote to jetlag.

Tokyo Park


Kanazawa became my favourite city out of the ones we visited this trip. The city park with Kanazawa Castle and Kenroku-en. According to their google maps location, Kenroku-en is one of 3 perfect gardens in Japan and is designed to be beautiful in every season. It was my favourite garden of the whole trip.
Cherry Blossoms
Majestic Tree in Japan Buddha Statue in Kanazawa These trees are covered to protect them from heavy snowfall. So beautiful!
Trees protected for heavy snowfall in Japan


We went to Kyoto directly after 3 days in Kanazawa. I found there to be a lot of differences between the two cities. While I was Kyoto, I secretly missed Kanazawa. But now, when I reflect on special moments of our trip and look at the photos, I’ve found that Kyoto marks a mental shift that happened during my Japan trip and I experienced a lot of mental and emotional growth there.

Kyoto Shrine
Kyoto Gates

The infamous Inari Gates in Kyoto. It poured rain the entire time but it didn’t bother us at all. In fact, it made the karaage snack at the bottom of the mountain even more satisfying while we huddled under our umbrellas.
Zen Garden in Kyoto
White Sakura in Kyoto
View in Kyoto

When we visited the ground of Ryoan-ji, home of a famous zen rock garden, I found a brochure that contained a quote that I found very moving. It is:

“I learn only to be contented.” He who learns only to be contented is spiritually rich, while the one who does not learn to be contented is spiritually poor, even if he is materially wealthy.

A sentiment that is so far removed to what we are all encouraged to do now which is strive for the best. But the question is who decides what is “best”? Is it you? Or it society?

Zen Garden in Kyoto
Up Close cherry blossom in Kyoto
Beautiful Tree in Kyoto

The photo below is a view from the Nijo Castle, a castle with incredible gardens and a place that marks the end of the Edo era.

Park Vista in Kyoto
Early spring Cherry Blossoms in Japan
Moody Garden photo taken in Kyoto

A moody photo taken in Kyoto. I saw so many new colours there and tried really hard to use the pro features of my phone camera to capture the different hues.


This is a photo of Billy walking the trail to Nunobiki Falls in Kobe, Japan. We fell in love with Kobe, its size, its feel, and its nature.
Exploring the trails in Kobe, Japan
Trees on trees in Kobe, Japan
Vine Bridge in Kobe, Japan
Blossoms in Kobe Japan in March

One response to “First Timer to Japan: Gardens and Cherry Blossoms”

  1. Chris S says:

    Thanks for sharing. I feel like so many people who go there publish stories and photos of the unique culture in the urban centers. Thus, I appreciated learning more about the landscape and natural wonders in Japan.

    As far as your podcast, and related to this travel blog, I heard an absolutely amazing story about Japan. It’s quite possible an American is responsible for the country giving up on feudalism. Plus, he taught them English. I think that you might find this podcast episode enjoyable: https://www.futilitycloset.com/2017/10/02/podcast-episode-172-american-feudal-japan/

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