Updated: April 17, 2018
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Plum Blossom In Japan: The Winter Cousin Of The Sakura

Many people know about Japan's cherry blossoms called "sakura", but much fewer people know about sakura's little cousin, the "ume" (plum) tree, which goes in bloom earlier, in the late part of winter. The plum tree blossoms are traditionally seen as a sign that winter is coming to an end.

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Plum Blossoms

Plum blossoms can arguably be just as impressive as the cherry blossoms Japan is so famous for. In fact, plum blossom-viewing was more popular than cherry blossom viewing for a good part of ancient Japan's history (prior to the Heinan era). The viewing season for most regions of Japan is from January to late March depending on the region and plum tree variety.

Where To View The Blossoms

Kitano Tenmangu (Kyoto)

A good spot to view the blossoms is at the Kitano Senmanju Shrine in Kyoto. The famous shrines premises has around 2,000 trees that come in bloom from early February to mid-March. As a side-note, if you happen to be there on the 25th of the month, you're in luck because a popular flea market is held there and on the nearby streets.

Sazuka Forest Garden (Mie Prefecture)

The scenically beautiful Sazuka Forest Garden in Mie Prefecture is most definitely one of the best places to view the blossoms. Flowering season is usually from mid-February to the end of March. The garden is opened from 9 AM to 4 PM.

Kairakuen Park In Mito City (Ibaraki Prefecture)

Near Mito Station is the huge park of Kairakuen. The park was built during the Edo era in 1842 and has been well-known for having an abundance of beautiful plum trees. For over 120 years, the park has been holding a plum festival from mid-February to late March.

Hanegi Park (Tokyo)

If you are in Tokyo, then Hanegi Park is the place for you to go. It has over 600 plum trees that start blooming in mid-February. It's located a 5-minute walk from the Umegaoka Station (Odakyu Line) or a 7-minute walk from the Higashimatsubara Station (Inogashira Line).
Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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