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Plum Blossom Viewing in Tokyo

Photo by Kanegen via Creative Commons

Photo by Kanegen via Creative Commons

Plum (ume) blossoms usually bloom in late February to signal the start of spring. While hanami revellers focus on cherry blossoms, which tend to overshadow the former, plum blossom blooms should not be overlooked. Plum blossoms have red, pink, or white flowers and remain in bloom until early March and because they can start to bloom in the early part of Feb, sometimes they can be seen surrounded by snowfall. Given the timing, they provide a colorful and cheerful backdrop to the drabness of winter. The peak of the bloom usually starts from middle or late February until the beginning of March.

The main difference between plum and cherry blossoms is that a cluster of cherry blossoms bloom from one single bud and have a long stem, while there’s only one plum blossom per bud. Much like cherry blossoms, plum blossoms dot the city and can be found almost anywhere around town. Click here for a previous blog entry on cherry blossoms. In this article, we showcase five places where the plum blossoms are in concentration and where festivals may also be held celebrating them in Tokyo.

korakuenKoishikawa Korakuen Garden

One of Tokyo’s oldest landscape gardens, Koishikawa Korakuen Garden was founded in 1629 and located in a downtown part of Tokyo near Tokyo Dome. This charming private garden has a small grove of plum trees beautifully planted around the gardens that feature a pond. This garden features a central pond and hills, making it perfect for a stroll. Under the terms of the Law for Preservation of Cultural Assets, Koishikawa Korakuen has been designated an important historical asset and site of special historical significance. This garden impresses all year round.

Photo by Guilhem Vellut via Creative Commons

Photo by Guilhem Vellut via Creative Commons

Kyu Shiba Rikyu and Hamarikyu Gardens

With a modern city backdrop, Kyu Shiba Rikyu and Hamarikyu are great city parks. Kyu Shiba Rikyu is by Hamamatsucho station, while Hamarikyu Garden is located near Shinbashi and Shiodome stations. The two parks are within close range to one another. At Kyu Shiba Rikyu, plum trees spread out on the grounds amidst an attractive pond. Hamarikyu Garden, which has a plum tree grove on its premises sits by the waterfront and a pier with boats heading to Asakusa is beside it.

hanegi-parkHanegi Park

Hanegi Park is considered one of the best plum blossom spots nationwide. Located in Meidaimae, Setagaya Ward, the large park houses a playground, baseball field, tennis courts and a traditional tea house. The park holds an annual festival during the plum blossom bloom period, which features various musical performances, haiku classes, and outdoor tea ceremonies. The festival also has refreshment booths, horticulture and potted plant markets, and sales of plum-related foods.

yushimatemple2Yushima Seido Temple

The plum blossoms of Yushima Tenjin feature about 300 trees of 20 different varieties. Located in Bunkyo Ward, the Yushima Seido Temple holds a series of events such as taiko performances when the plum blossoms are in season. It is a Shinto shrine established in 458 A.D. to worship Ameno-tajikaraono-mikoto, one of deities that appears in Japanese myth.

kinutaKinuta Park

Kinuta Park is a large grassy park in Setagaya Ward, and the land  was a golf course before 1957. About 40 Japanese apricot trees relocated here in 1984 to form a dense plum tree forest, located near the athletic field and children’s forest. It is also a popular Hanami spot in Tokyo with over 900 cherry blossom trees on site.

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