Every year when the cold winter becomes spring, a small village on Japanese island Shikoku that goes by the name of Tosayama holds a Plum Festival. At this plum festival, the sight of a vast amount of plum blossoms can be enjoyed by the public, and locals will sell food to everyone visiting the festival. It is a very special occasion because it is a true community event: everyone in the community volunteers their time and spends several days at the festival catering to the thousands of visitors.
Tosayama is a small mountain village north of Kochi City. There are only about 900 citizens, but on festival days they get nearly 1500 visitors a day that come from all around Shikoku and sometimes even from other parts of Japan. This is an immense boost for such a small village and its struggling economy.
The plum trees haven’t always been in Tosayama, they came here because of a man named Mr. Mori. Back in 1992, he noticed the city’s diminishing population and economy. In efforts to save the city, he and several townspeople visited a prefecture on the mainland of Japan to learn about agriculture. One of the main things that stood out to him were the many plum blossoms he saw. These trees look similar to Cherry Blossoms and bear a bountiful amount of plums every year. When he went back to the village, 1200 plum trees were planted on the land owned by Mr. Mori.
After you experience the flowers you can venture around the area. The locals are very happy about seeing tourists in their village, and will try to speak to you even if you don’t know Japanese. A man I met mentioned a device he made in order to grind and pound seeds. Although he was not the inventor of this device, the piece you see above was cut and shaped by an elderly gentleman in the village.
After a long day of festival foods, walking, and viewing trees, you can relax with some organic ginger ale made from the village. This ginger ale from Tosayama is famous, and every week a shipment is sent to Tokyo for their Sunday market. Through this export, the village is able to boost their economy with the ginger that grows well in the mountains of Tosayama. With the hope and perseverance of these tough mountain villagers, they are able to continue the tradition of holding a Plum Festival every year and share their agricultural products with people from around Japan.
If you happen to be in the area in late February through mid-March, make sure you stop by this blooming lovely festival!