Ever since a week or two, we have had the first hints of spring in the air. The weather is definitely changing, with alternating days of rain and sun; as opposed to winter where almost every day is sunny. The temperature has been notably higher too, although this week there has been a plunge in temperature that has taken us straight back to winter weather.
But nevermind that, because along with the first wafts of spring came the first blossoms of the season: plum blossoms or ‘ume’. The plum trees typically flower in the beginning of March. Due to the cold winter however, the blossoms are a bit late this year. We still have to wait a little while longer for the cherry blossoms, which bloom in April.
There is always an unmistakable joy to spotting those first tender flowers, in Belgium as well as in Japan. But somehow I seem to enjoy the blossoms even more here in Japan. Is it the collective excitement that takes hold of the Japanese people as the first blossoms appear? Or are the flowers just more beautiful here? In any case they are more abundant. I see blossoms everywhere I go, even as I was walking through an abandoned industrial site the other day. The rusted up machines and the delicate flowers made for a beautiful contrast.
The ‘hanami’ or blossom viewing parties are held when the blossoms are at their prime. You can see how they advance in the pictures below.
The plum blossoms come in various shades of white and pink.
My friend has been going on about the plum blossoms, and I was trying my darnedest to remember what the silly they looked like! Behold!!
Come to think of it, there’s a really beautiful tree sitting in someone’s yard down the block a bit. Just a little island of purple in a swath of homelettes.
I love to encounter the beauty of a blossom in an otherwise desolate environment. Somehow it seems to make the flower even more beautiful!
Looks like a late bloom this year with the peak bloom in Kansai expected to be around April 6th. Do you have any favourite spots for hanami?
It’s my first spring here so I haven’t been to a lot of hanami yet. But a good place for the plum blossom is Hirashiba Park in Toyota City. For cherry blossom I’ve heard that Okazaki Castle is one of the 100 most beautiful cherry blossom spots in Japan.
Do you have any tips? Maybe in Kyoto or something?
Japanese love plum blossom and cherry blossom. but especially cherry blossom.
Among the words expressive of the aesthetic sense acquired by the Japanese over a long period of time, there are “mononoaware” and “mujo.”
“Mujo” is a Japanese tendency to love and appreciate the beauty of things which are transient and ephemeral in nature, which, under the influence of Buddhist thought since the medieval ages, became sublimed in a peculiarly Japanese sense of values.
The Japanese fondness for the short-lived cherry blossoms might be comes from this.
We take the short-lived cherry blossoms as a human life and many haiku have been created to reflect this since long time ago.
Well, did you know that we even have cherry blossom forecast on TV?
They are saying Sakura the cherry blossoms will start blooming from 29 March and best days to see will be from 5 to 13 of April. Let’s have a Hanami party;)))
Thank you for this explanation! I wanted to add something to this article about the Japanese love for short-lived beauty and the beautiful melancholy feeling that it gives me. But I couldn’t quite figure out where to make it fit into the text. So thank you for adding it to the article! And I didn’t know those words yet either. In any case, ‘mujo’ is one of the things I really like about Japanese culture.
I already look forward to the Hanami party! Experiencing sakura seems like one of the most typical Japanese activities there are 🙂
Beautiful photos! Your flowers are blooming slightly late and ours are slightly early…yay for wierd weather! Either way, your trees are beautiful!
Actually all these trees are in public areas. Unfortunately we don’t have a garden here. When we go back to Belgium and we have a garden, I want to plant lots of flowering trees 🙂 I saw on your blog that you like gardening too. Your boyfriends garden looks hughe, especially from a Japanese perspective where it is a real luxury to have even the smallest of gardens.
Hehe, my boyfriend has the house…I am making it pretty! I shouldn’t use that kind of language around him, though. =) He doesn’t really like plants…he is very mechanically oriented and loves to play with his cars (2 racing, and 1 motorbike). He generally says yes to my planting ideas…although today he said I was turning his house into an arboretum (and I’m thinking…what’s wrong with that?) But he likes them.
I love love love my gardens; they make me feel like I have a little home away from home. I feel very blessed to have space to enjoy.
What about community gardens in Japan? There are lots of those even in the small cities here. Everyone pitches in a certain amount of money for a little square to plant in. Usually it can be donated by the city or a certain person, etc.
When will you be returning to Belgium?
Prachtig! Ruiken ze ook zo heerlijk? Hoe is de temeratuur nu daar? Bij ons is het zo ongeveer 14 graden. Vanaf donderdag zo’n 17.
Ze hebben inderdaad een sterke geur. Dennis is even gaan wandelen in een park met pruimenbloesem en hij was erg onder de indruk van de geur. Momenteel is het hier 7 graden, de rest van de week rond de 10 graden. Ik hoop dat het hier snel terug wat warmer wordt.
Mooi Mooi ; Ook hier is de lente in aantocht , maar wij zullen nog enkele weken moeten wachten vooralleer de Prumelus in bloei staat . geniet er van ( ook van de geuren ) . knuf .