The scenic mountain area of Yoshino, Japan, is famous for its abundance of cherry blossoms, which bloom in a slow-moving wave up the mountain, usually providing visitors a three-week window to see them, unlike the usual weeklong period. It also has several stunning ancient wooden temples and shrines, including Yoshimizu Shrine and Kinpusenji Temple.

The stunning mountainside barely escaped complete destruction when powerful warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi brought 5,000 people there for a massive cherry-blossom viewing party. It rained continuously for three days straight and Hideyoshi, so the story goes, flew into a rage at the local monks, saying that if they didn't do something about the rain, he would torch the entire mountainside. The monks prayed and chanted feverishly all night and, lucky for all of us, the next day was sunny.

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