Cherry blossoms entice Arab tourists.
From the most recent statistics available, the number of Emirati nationals to visit the city between April through to December 2014 increased by 139 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. Likewise, Qatari nationals visiting the city over the same period also increased significantly by 1,135 per cent.
Shuhei Akahoshi, managing director of Kyoto Convention & Visitors Bureau, says, "Since the opening of our promotional office in Dubai in April 2014, we have seen the number of UAE and Qatari nationals visiting Kyoto increase each month since June 2014, compared to the same month the year before.
"Kyoto's cherry blossoms are incredibly popular among Japanese and foreigners alike. With the increased awareness of our city within the Middle East, and our efforts to provide detailed information in Arabic about the increased availability of halal and Muslim-friendly cuisine throughout the city, we believe that this year's cherry blossom season has the potential to welcome more Middle Eastern visitors than any other year previous."
Cherry blossom, or sakura in Japanese, is the national flower of Japan and permeates deeply many aspects of Japanese culture. As the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto is one of the most famous and popular cities in the country to view the splendour of this natural phenomenon in its full beauty.
Once it starts blooming, the sakura reaches full bloom in about a week to 10 days before gracefully floating petal by petal to the ground. The fleetingness of its beauty combined with its artistic demise continues to capture the minds and imaginations of all that are able to experience it.
Kyoto is an ideal city within which to enjoy the cherry blossoms because of its location and history. The city is surrounded by mountains, so cherry trees start blooming in the city first, then trees in the surrounding mountains such as Arashiyama, Sagano and Ohara areas follow.
There are many special breeds of cherry trees found in Kyoto's many historic temples and gardens, which bloom at slightly different dates to the standard somei-yoshino breed. Because of this variety in breeds and locations, visitors to Kyoto during the cherry blossom season need not worry about missing the opportunity to experience the cherry blossoms due to year to year seasonal differences.
In Kyoto, cherry blossoms are not only to be enjoyed throughout the day, but also at night. Many cherry blossom spots are lit up during the evening to attract more tourists, including Gion, one of the most famous destinations within Kyoto city.
Akahoshi says, "Kyoto's spectacular cherry blossoms are popular among Japanese and foreigners alike resulting in the city's average hotel room occupancies extending to 98 per cent during this period. In order to avoid disappointment, I would encourage visitors to make their reservations as early as possible.
"Kyoto, nevertheless is renowned for its beauty throughout the year, with each season offering its own unique aesthetic experience. After the cherry blossoms from mid-May to June, one can enjoy the fresh greenery of spring known as shinryoku in Japanese, which in my opinion, is one of the best times to visit Kyoto."
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