If you are planning to have an early spring tour to Japan to see its plum blossom festivals then I would like you to explore the best and most popular ume blossom spots here in Japan. I don’t miss my favorite ume spots that I usually visit every year. Let me tell you my favorite plum blossom spots here, they are: Yoshino Baigo, Soga Bairin and Atami Baien. Are you ready to discover them all in one place? Ok, I think you are and here I have a very little request to you that before you proceed please read about Japanese plum blossom.
I know how wonderful it would be when you see Japanese plum blossom in different locations across Japan. Everybody would agree with me that cherry blossom season is the best season to have a outdoor picnic party but why don’t we have a picnic party in early spring? Yes, this is what I do with my friends sitting under plum trees and smelling the sweet fragrance of colorful blossoms. Ok, let’s find out the top 10 plum blossom spots that are recommend by me and local tourists from Japan.
1) Atami Baien (Plum Garden), Shizuoka:
Last year I had to go to this spot to see Atami Baien plum festival. I did not travel there alone but with a friend from Shizuoka. Atami is a famous city for its Hot Spring resorts. A day trip to Atami city would be more than an amazing experience if you visit it during the Atami Baien Ume Matsuri. The festival lasts for two months that generally starts from second week of January and ends exactly right after the end of two months since the date it begins.
It is said that there are about 450 plum tress of 60 varieties! This sounds very good. There are five beautiful Japanese garden bridges over the Hatsu-kawa river. These bridges and the blossom will delight you very much. A lot of visitors come to see ume and participate to the festival. Want to know latest travel tips to Atami Baien Ume Matsuri? Please read this right away.
2) Yushima Tenjin Shrine, Tokyo:
Yushima Tenjin shrine is one of the top plum blossom spots in Tokyo. In fact, it is a good message for those who usually live in Tokyo. You won’t have to go far away from your residence to see ume in early spring.
Yushima Tenjin shrine plays an important role in Japanese culture when it is time for plum blooming with its approximately 300 plum trees. This shrine associated with the spirit of learning. Students come here to pray for success in their college entrance exams. It has become a great tradition for them.
If you want to join in then you must get here from February 8th to March 8th. Actually, the shrine is dedicated to a well known scholar, plum blossom lover and historical figure deified as a Shinto god of scholarship called Sugawara-no-Michizane (845-903). Enjoy your time viewing ume and buying traditional Japanese arts as souvenir for your friends and family.
3) Koishikawa Korakuen, Tokyo:
Koishikawa Korakuen is an edo period (1600-1867) Japanese garden which is a quite popular public garden in Tokyo city. This garden is located in Koishikawa district. It has been long since I visited this garden but the last time I had visited, I saw beautiful ume. To be honest with you, I have been there only twice in my life. The first time I went there for viewing cherry blossom with my parents then after passing my high school I visited there to see plum blossoms.
It did not make me board! I truly enjoyed my time seeing ume blossom and walking on the garden’s trails. It has a pond, bridges, stones, plum trees, cherry trees and manmade hills. All these things would generate good feelings in your mind. The best to see plum blossoms here is in late February.
4) Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, Kyushu Island, Fukuoka:
Danzaifu Tenmangu Shrine is a famous place since the great Japanese scholar Michizane was buried here. This shrine is dedicated to him. He was exiled here in Dazaifu on Kyushu Island from Kyoto. This is known as the largest shrine in Fokouko prefecture.
The shrine is located over the grave of Michizane Sugawara in Dazafu, south of Fokuoka city. Extensive collection of plum trees can be found here. There are approximately 6,000 plum trees of 197 different species. They bloom in late February to mid March.
Would you like to see a legendary plum tree (The flying plum tree) which is located on the right side of the main hall? Indeed it is a legend because it flew from Kyoto to Dazaifu to reunite with Michizane.
5) Odawara Castle Park, Soga Bairin, Kanagawa:
Odawara Castle Park and Soga Bairin host a famous plum blossom festival called “Odawara Ume Matsuri” in early February. The festival lasts for a month and this year it will be celebrated from 06 February to 06 March, 2016. The land of Soga has approximately 35,000 white plum trees, on the other hand Castle ruin park of Odawara Castle has about 250 ume trees. In fact Soga-Bairin is one of the best spots to see the Mount Fuji summit here in Japan. Visitors could enjoy seeing various cultural stage performances during the festival time.
What to do and see during the festival? You can take part in the plum pit spitting contest. Actually, there is a number of things to do and see:
1) Horseback Archery (Yabusame) Performance
2) View Lantern dance (Chochin Odori) and Lion dance (Kotabuki Shishi-mai)
3) Poetry reading
4) Outdoor tea ceremony
5) Eat Ume-boshi (pickled plum)
It would be a memorable trip if you visit this extraordinary plum blossom festival spot. Want to know more about the festival? Then visit here.
6) Mito Kairaku-en garden, Ibaraki Prefecture:
Kairaku-en is seen as one of the three most beautiful and famous landscape gardens in Japan. It is located in the city Mito. So visiting this famous garden during Mito’s plum blossom festival will be a great trip to you. From this garden you can also view beautiful scenery of green forest and lake. You must count on this!
It is located on a hill of Mito. The garden’s scenery is very beautiful especially before arriving of spring since there are approximately 3,000 and about 100 varieties of plum trees. When all these plum tress are in full bloom the garden offers a famous plum festival, called Mito Ume Matsuri. The festival begins every year from February 20 to March 31.
7) Hanegi Park, Setagaya:
Hanegi Park hosts Setagaya Ume Matsuri each year. People of Setagaya feel so proud of being a host city of that festival. The park is located on the side of a hill, not far from Umegaoka Station, just go to the west side from the station and you will reach destitution. If you don’t find it then I suggest you to ask locals, they will show you the right direction.
The park grounds are covered with more than 700 plum trees. They do offer a perfect spot for viewing Ume in February. Setagaya ume matsuri lasts for a month from late February to early March. The Ume Matsuri is held here on weekends and holidays. This is because people can have free time to participate to it with harmony.
8) Yoshino Baigo, Ome, Tokyo:
Yoshino Baigo (Plum Village) is Tokyo’s one of the best ume spots I have ever visited in my whole life. To reach this destination you have to go to western frontier of Tokyo city. It is located between the Tama River and the Yoshino mountains in Ome city. From JR Ome Line Hinatawada Station you have to walk for 15 minutes but if you want to visit this from central Tokyo that will take 90 minutes. Yoshino Baigo Ume Matsuri begins in late February to end of March. Many cultural events such as drumming, dancing and parade including small selling stalls are seen during the festival time.
The park will give you a big opportunity to view its Ume blossoms. There are about 25,000 plum trees of 100 different varieties. Is not this place is gorgeous that has 25,000 ume trees? Red, white, pink and yellow colors ume blossom would blow your mind up. You can go down from the top to bottom of the hills viewing those delicate pink and white plum blossoms. All these plum trees were not planted at the same time. This park is not an ordinary one because it has a 300 year old plum tree. Would not you like to see it? If you would like to see it then come here in March!
Attention please! The park is closed now since all the ume trees were cut down last year. They were all infected by the plum pox virus. The authority is trying to make a new ume grove here and it will take many years to make it perfect just like it was before for viewing ume blossoms.
9) Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Kyoto:
Plum blossom at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is so charming. Kitano Tenmangu is a famous shrine not only in Koyto but also all over Japan. It is also seen as one of the most important of several hundred shrines across Japan that were actually built for showing respect to Michizane Sugawara. So those hundreds shrines are dedicated to this scholar. In fact, this prominent shrine was built in 959.
Well, this shrine Kitano Tenmangu has more than 2,000 plum trees that were planted many years ago. Students often visit this shrine to pray for their success in their studies or before exams start. Baikasai (a tea ceremony) is held here during the plum blossom festival. Geisha and Maiko host baikasai under the plum trees. The shrine is open to public to view the beautiful plum blossoms from February 10th to the end of March each year in Japan. It is a popular Ume spot, no doubt about that. Please learn more in detail about this ume matsuri here.
10) Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden, Minato, Tokyo:
You can visit a number of traditional gardens in Tokyo and Kyu Shiba Rikyu is one of them. Here plum trees spread out on the grounds of this oriental Japanese garden. There is a pond and manmade hills including walking trails. Honestly, Koi pond looks great with those plum blossoms. Take a good photo shoot of nature you see over there. Everything in the garden seems to you very calm, quiet and marvelous.
Tokyo is a modern city but to get the smell of Tokyo’s old city you must visit this Ume spot. Before plum trees start blooming here you can see winter cherry blossom in this place. That is called “Jugatsuzakura”. It is a rare one and they bloom in winter season. So if you don’t want to miss seeing this arrive there early.
Are You Coming To See Plum Blossom?
Don’t miss this season if you are free from work and school. I think, visiting Japan in early spring would be a great idea for you. In fact, you can find some Tokyo tour packages that include one of these Tokyo’s plum blossom spots and festivals. As most of the best plum blossoms spots are located in Tokyo you could visit other popular tourist attractions of Tokyo along with ume spots. Good luck to you and I wish you have a great memorable trip to Japan.
Copyright 2015 @ takkhis