Kyoto comes alive in Spring, when the ephemeral cherry tree blossom is cherished by locals and visitors alike. Public and private spaces are animated by the translucent pink blossom, festivals abound, and geishas and residents alike wear flowers, creating a sublime link between humanity and the passing of time. Ryoan-ji is the world’s most famous Zen garden. Set in a field of gravel and surrounded by delicate moss, its rocks are transformed into scale-less islands in the sea. The moss creates a feeling of mellow tranquillity but is in rapid decline due to changes in the environment – a particularly poignant irony as it was here, of course, that the United Nations’ Kyoto treaty was signed in 1997, calling on industrial nations to reduce polluting carbon dioxide emissions that fuel global warming.