Ume Blossoms and Hanami: Best Spots to View the Plum Blossoms in Japan 2019

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  • Is almost spring in Japan and when you think of spring, cherry blossoms are automatically associated with this beautiful season where everything comes back to life and we see the world in beautiful colours after a long, gloomy winter.

    However, in Japan, the ume(plum) flower is actually the first sign of spring as they blossom around February way before the cherry blossoms do.
    The ume flowers have a special significance for the Japanese as it represents hope and vitality and signalize the beginning of the spring. In Japan, you can enjoy taking part in Ume Matsuri(plum festival) and immerse yourself in their beauty.

    What is Hanami ?

    紅梅

    “Hanami” is the act of “flower/blossom viewing”, also strongly associated with cherry blossoms,but it can also refer to other types of blossoms, for example, plum blossoms.

    Ume typically flower any time from the end of January to the beginning of March, and every year people celebrate them as they herald the start of spring. Plum festivals (ume matsuri), in shrines, temples, and parks are also a common sight during this time.

    There are many places you can sit down and enjoy a wonderful scenery together with your family or friends.
    You can also just go for a hike and admire the view before your eyes as you can find the beautiful flowers around shrines, hike courses and parks.

    So, why not start your hanami early this year with some of the most beautiful plum blossoms in Japan? Here are five great spots for you to visit.

    1. Kairaku-en Garden (Mito)

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    Located in Ibaraki Prefecture, Kairaku-en is famous for being one of Japan’s three best landscape gardens. It features over 3000 plum trees of 100 varieties, and every year a plum festival is held from late February to the end of March.

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    2. Hanegi Park (Tokyo)

    This small city park in Tokyo includes about 700 plum trees of several varieties. Between mid-February to early March, the Setagaya Ume Festival is celebrated here with haiku classes, tea ceremonies, rice cake pounding, and other events held on weekends and holidays.

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    3. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (Kyoto)

    Over a thousand years old, Kitano Tenmangu is one of the most important of a few hundred shrines across Japan dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, a scholar, poet, and politician of the Heian Period. Its garden consists of about 2000 plum trees, which can be seen in their full glory in February to early March.

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    4. Takao Baigo Promenade (Hachioji)

    This 4.5km long promenade located in Hachioji features six plum tree forests with over 10,000 red-and-white plum trees.

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    5. Osaka Castle Park (Osaka)

    As the name suggests, this park surrounds Osaka castle. It is especially popular for hanami, with about 100 varieties of plum trees coming into bloom one after another, from early bloomers to later types, painting the area around the castle in beautiful shades of pink.

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    Hopefully, one of those beautiful plum blossom spots is close to you, so you get to enjoy a dream of white and pink sooner than you might have thought. If not, don’t worry! There are plenty of great spots out there, just keep your eyes open.

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