Written by Nupur Jena
The 5 Best Plum Blossom Viewing Spots In The Tokyo Area
Plum blossoms, or ume as they are known in Japan, start blooming about a month before cherry blossoms. They are the original sign of spring. This article introduces you to the best spots in the Tokyo area to enjoy plum blossoms and related festivals!
People throughout the world are familiar with the famous Japanese cherry blossoms. Numerous cherry blossom festivals are held each year. However, before the cherry blossoms emerge, another beautiful tree graces the island of Japan.
Plum blossoms, also known as Ume in Japanese, are delicate flowers that start to bloom in February. The blooming plum trees are known and loved in Japan as the first sign of spring. When they start to bloom the weather tends to still be cold but plum blossoms remind everyone that the winter is going to end soon.
Japanese plum trees offer a special treat with beautiful and fragrant flowers. Tokyo is home to some of the most impressive plum groves in the country. It is just incredible to see their utmost beauty while you still count the days until spring.
Let us introduce you the best spots to see plum blossoms in the Tokyo area.
1. Shiba Park - Tokyo Tower Framed by Plum Blossoms
Shiba Park in Tokyo's Minato ward is built around the Zojoji Temple. Another peculiar feature of the park, apart from the plum blossoms, is the view of the Tokyo Tower in the background.
Shiba Park is home to around 70 purple and white plum trees. The view of the stunning Japanese landscape alongside the plum blossoms is breathtakingly beautiful.
Shiba Park also hosts a two-day festival every year to celebrate the plum trees blooming with performances of traditional Japanese music and tea ceremonies. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you can see both pink and white blooms on the same branch.
Here you can take a relaxing walk along the plum blossom covered garden trails with friends and family.
2. Yushima Tenjin - Plum Blossoms on Shrine Grounds
Have you ever heard of Bunkyo Ume Matsuri? It is unique festival experience in Tokyo.
The festival takes place on the grounds of Yushima Tenjin. During the festival, many students visit the shrine and pray for their successful exams. A popular place for plum blossom since medieval times, this shrine in the Bunkyo ward still draws significant crowds.
It is the busiest on the weekends when the beautiful blossoms are accompanied by performances of traditional Japanese music and stage arts.
I highly recommended it for a peaceful and a quiet afternoon at the famous shrine against the backdrop of beautiful plum blossoms.
3. Kameido Tenjin - Famous for Plum Blossom and Wisteria
Kameido Tenjin is also known as the Shitamachi no Tenjin-sama, Tokyo’s downtown, old-school Tenjin shrine.
There are around 200 plum trees around the shrine, as the deity (god or goddess) enshrined here, is said to have loved plum blossoms. Visit the shrine in late February to mid of March to see them in full bloom.
With Tokyo SkyTree in its background, it is a captivating view with the pink and white blossoms framing the SkyTree.
The famous arched bridge and the grounds are abloom with all kinds of flowers. This is why it's also known as "Tenjin shrine of flowers".
Visitors often come to the shrine to pray for academic success, happy households or safe driving.
4. Hanegi Park - Enjoy the Setagaya Plum Festival
Hanegi Park is known as one of the best places in Tokyo to view plum blossoms. The park is located in Setagaya and it is home to about 650 plum trees.
The Setagaya Ume Matsuri (Setagaya plum festival) is held here for about month every year, usually from early February to mid-March. It is a great place to take a walk and enjoy the blossoms. The festive atmosphere and various events make the experience very lively.
You can participate in outdoor tea ceremonies, and watch traditional Japanese music events.
The Festival features plum-related snacks, music performances, haiku (a traditional form of Japanese poetry) readings and free servings of matcha tea.
The Setagaya Ume Matsuri 2018 is scheduled for February 2nd until March 4th, 2018.
5. Odawara Ume Matsuri - Celebrate Spring with a Mount Fuji View
Odawara Ume Matsuri is an incredible Japanese early spring festival, held in Odawara city. This is one of the most popular yearly events in Kanagawa prefecture. It celebrates one of the top plum blossom viewing spots in Japan.
If you are not convinced, how about combining the view of Mt. Fuji with 35,000 blooming plum trees? The image alone makes a trip to Odawara worth it!
The festival is held every year between February and March. The entire area is covered in crimson, pink, and white blossoms, and the faint fragrance of plums floats in the air.
A walk through the area will take 30-40 minutes. while you are walking you will pass multiple photo spots. Don't forget to use the opportunity to get some amazing photos.
You can even enjoy plum-related delicacies at the nearby cafeterias and food stands.
On the weekends during the festival period, many events featuring horseback archery, the Kotobuki Lion Dance, folk dancing and taiko drum performances are being held.
The Odawara Ume Matsuri 2018 is scheduled from February 3rd until March 4th, 2018.
Enjoy the Early Signs of Spring!
Japanese plum blossom symbolizes vitality, hope, and renewal. Even though they are lesser known than the famous Japanese cherry blossoms, they are nothing short of beautiful.
How about giving plum blossom viewing a try?
It is still very cold during the plum blossom season, so don't forget to wear a warm jacket when you enjoy your day amidst the beautifully intricate plum blossoms. Happy viewing!