Geisha and apprentice geisha from Kamishichiken Kabukai performance troupe serve Japanese green matcha tea to visitors on the grounds of Kitano Tenmangu Shinto shrine in Kyoto's Kamigyo Ward, on Feb. 25. The outdoor tea ceremony is held as a tribute to a large tea ceremony called Kitano Daichakai that was hosted by 16th-century warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The blossoms of at least 1,500 plum trees are at their peak as they bloomed earlier than usual, attracting many visitors from the morning of the annual Baikasai plum blossom festival. The festival is held on the anniversary of Sugawara no Michizane's death to commemorate his virtue. Kitano Tenmangu is dedicated to Michizane -- the deity of learning -- known for his love of plum blossoms. The blossoms can be enjoyed until the end of March, according to the shrine.
(Japanese original by Mai Suganuma, Kyoto Bureau)