I think it is safe to say that the weeping plum blossoms at Jonangu Shrine were at their peak when we visited last Sunday.
Jonangu lies to the south of Kyoto, about 15 minutes walk from Takeda Station, which can be reached on either the Kintetsu or Karasuma Subway lines. When a shrine was originally built here in Heian times the area around it would presumably have been open countryside and farmland, but today it is a sorry mix of grimy commuter housing and love hotels. All the more the gardens feel a haven of peace and tranquility when you arrive.
The current buildings and gardens date from the 1970s when the shrine was rebuilt after a fire. There are five gardens of differing styles, covering extensive grounds and all designed by the famous garden master Nakane Kinsaku. Strolling through these gardens made for a lovely spring morning. In the Heian garden there a flowers mentioned in the Tale of Genji and little signs inscribed with love poems from the same book are dotted about too. Poetry with the flowers, a nice touch I thought.
To read a more detailed account of the shrine’s history and a more thorough description of the gardens, please refer to this Japan Navigator article. For a map to the shrine from Takeda Station and access details (in Japanese) check this page on the Jonangu site. The shrine grounds are open from 9am to 4.30pm (last entry is at 4:00), they cost 600 yen to enter and are entirely worth it. But for now I shall leave you with some more pictures…