If you are planning to Japan in early spring to see beautiful plum blossoms, then you should be familiar with the best ume spots, which are scattered across Japan.
I don’t miss visiting my favorite ume spots. Seriously, I visit them almost every year, usually between mid-February and early-March. Let me introduce to you my favorite plum blossom spots here, they are: Inabe Bairin, Soga Bairin and Atami Baien.
Are you interested in knowing about these famous plum blossom spots? I have a very simple 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 all over Japan. Everybody will agree with me that cherry blossom season is the best season to enjoy picnicking underneath sakura trees. Though a lot of people enjoy it in the early springtime.
Yes, this is what I do with my friends sitting underneath plum trees and smelling the sweet fragrance of colorful plum blossoms.
Let’s find out the top 12 plum blossom spots that are highly recommended to immerse yourself in the world of Japanese plum blossoms with no restrictions.
1. Atami Baien (Plum Garden), Shizuoka:
Atami Baien is one of the most beautiful places to explore in Japan and here, experiencing the beauty of plum blossom is a must-do thing in early springtime.
Atami is very famous for its Hot Spring resorts. A day trip to Atami would be more than an amazing experience, if you visit it during the Atami Baien Ume Matsuri.
The festival lasts for two months, that usually starts from the second week of January through March.
Home to about 450 plum trees of 60 different varieties, this picturesque garden is not only a great place to see ume, but also for its footbaths.
In addition, there are five beautiful Japanese garden bridges over the Hatsu-kawa river. These bridges and the blossom will delight you very much. Every year, a lot of visitors come to see ume and experience the festival.
2. Inabe Plum Grove, Mie:
Mie is a spectacular place to travel to. Located in the far northeastern tip of the Kii Peninsula, Inabe is a city in Mie Prefecture that is famous for its plum grove.
The plum grove is part of Inabe-Shi Agricultural Park which features approximately 4,500 plum trees. They all look impressive when ume start to bloom in late February.
Visitors here can expect to see colorful plum blossom in this grove until the end of March. The colors of ume are very nice to look at.
It’s a wonderful place to behold and considered to be one of the most popular places to take photographs in Japan in early spring.
You won’t just see a variety of plum blossoms but also mountains (Suzuka Mountain Range) in the distance. In the evening, plum trees are lit up, making the grove very unique place to explore.
Take note this grove is home to many giant plum trees, of which one is about 100 years old. Stroll in the grove and enjoy the scenic landscape to the fullest.
3. 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 homes to see delicate ume in early spring.
The shrine plays an important role in Japanese culture, especially when it is time to enjoy spectacular plum blossoms. With its approximately 300 plum trees, this place never disappoints!
This shrine is associated with the spirit of learning. Students come here to pray for their 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 to bring home.
4. Haruna Plum Grove, Gunma:
Gunma Prefecture has three largest plum groves, they are known as Haruna Bairin and Misato Bairin in Takasaki city, and Akima Bairin in Annaka city.
Haruna Bairin has the largest number of plum trees, approximately 120 thousands. Most of the plum flowers in this grove are white. Peak flowering season arrives in mid March and can be enjoyed till the end of March. That’s when the plum festival is held.
During the Haruna Plum Festival, the area becomes lively with people coming to enjoy viewing tons beautiful ume blossoms. If you are visiting Gunma Prefecture between mid-March and late-March when they are in full bloom, be sure to stop in.
5. Suzuka Forest Garden, Mie:
Home to about 200 plum trees, Suzuka Forest Garden (Suzuka no Mori Teien) is another beautiful plum grove in Mie prefecture that you would like to pay a visit to. Take a look at the view in the picture above. Is not it mind-blowing?
Unlike Haruma Plum Grove, this one only possesses pink blossoms. One of the interesting facts of this plum grove is that they are all weeping plum trees, similar to shidarezakura (weeping cherry).
The best time to view plum blossom here is in early March. Visiting the place is worth exploring not only during the daytime but also after the sunset. Trees are lit up gorgeously in the evening and you be wowed for sure seeing such an amazing scene.
6. Koishikawa Korakuen, Tokyo:
Located in Koishikawa district, Koishikawa Korakuen is an edo period (1600-1867) Japanese garden, which is Tokyo’s oldest and best Japanese garden in Tokyo city.
It has a pond, bridges, stones, plum trees, maple trees, cherry trees and manmade hills. All these things would surly make you fall in love with this stunning garden.
Visitors here can take a leisurely stroll along the garden trails, and enjoy the blossoms. This is one of the best garden, where locals and tourists alike can pay a visit to all year round. In fact, every season has its own seasonal beauty to impress you.
The best to see plum blossoms here is in late February.
7. 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 through 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.
8. 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.
The land of Soga has approximately 35,000 white plum trees, on the other hand, the Castle ruin park of Odawara Castle has about 250 ume trees.
Soga-Bairin is one of the best places to see the Mount Fuji summit here in Japan. During the festival, visitors can enjoy their time seeing various cultural stage performances.
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, they are as follows:
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)
A visit to this garden in early spring can give you an experience of a lifetime. Want to know more about the festival? Then visit here.
9. Mito Kairaku-en garden, Ibaraki:
Located in Mito city, Kairaku-en is considered one of the three most beautiful and famous landscape gardens in Japan along with Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, and Koraku-en in Okayama.
So visiting this famous garden during Mito’s plum blossom festival will be a great idea for sure. From this garden, you can also view beautiful scenery of green forest and lake. You must count on this!
This picturesque garden is actually located on a hill of Mito and there you can find approximately 3,000 plum trees of 100 different varieties. How cool is that!
When all these plum tress are in full bloom, the garden hosts a famous plum festival, called Mito Ume Matsuri. The festival begins every year from February 20 to March 31.
10. Hanegi Park, Setagaya:
Every year, from late February through early March, Hanegi Park hosts Setagaya Ume Matsuri. Locals of Setagaya feel very proud of being a host city of this exciting ume festival.
The park is located on the side of a hill, not far from Umegaoka Station, just head towards the west side from the station and you will reach there. 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.
The Ume Matsuri is held here over the weekends and holidays. This is because people have a free time to participate in it with each other in harmony.
11. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Kyoto:
Plum blossom at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is so inspiring. Kitano Tenmangu is a famous shrine not only in Koyto, but also all over Japan.
It is considered one of the most important of several hundred shrines across Japan that were actually built for showing respect to Michizane Sugawara. So it’s obvious that those hundreds shrines were built to commemorate this famous scholar of Japan.
Built in 959, 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.
Every year, the shrine is open to public to view the beautiful plum blossoms from February 10th. Want to know more about this hilarious ume matsuri? Read it here.
12. 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.
This thoughtfully designed garden has a pond and man-made hills including spectacular walking trails. Honestly, the 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 bustling city, but to get the taste of Tokyo’s old tradition and atmosphere, you must visit this Ume spot.
Before plum trees start blooming here, you can see winter cherry blossoms. That is called “Jugatsuzakura”. It is a rare sakura variety and they bloom only in the winter.
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 and your family. In fact, you can find some Tokyo tour packages that include one of these exclusive Tokyo’s plum blossom spots and festivals.
As most of Japan’s best plum blossoms spots are located in Tokyo, you can gladly visit its must-see attractions alongside visiting the ume spots described above.
Thank you for reading this post. Have fun in Japan in early Spring before hanami arrives.