Fantastic view created by a sea of clouds, Tsukigase Plum Valley (Nara Prefecture)
Viewing the plum garden from above a sea of clouds is unearthly beautiful. Tsukigase Bairin (Tsukigase plum grove) spreads along the valley of the Satsuki River that runs in Mt. Tsukigase-oyama and contains about 13 thousand plum trees. It is thought to have started when plum trees were planted in Ten Shrine in the grounds of a temple about 800 years ago. Of all the scenic spots that the Japanese government first designated, this is the only plum garden. In the early morning until sunrise on a clear day, fog rises from Satsuki River as the air cools. It turns into the sea of clouds, which creates this fantastic view.
Best time: Around mid-March every year
Directions: 1 hour and 15 min by bus from Nara Station of JR Kansai Main Line
Address: 21-8 Tsukigase-Nagahiki, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Plum blossoms in full glory with Mt. Fuji in the background Soga Bessho Bairin (Soga Bessho Plum Grove, Yamanashi Prefecture)
You can enjoy the contrast of Mt. Fuji and a plum grove at Soga Bessho Bairin (Soga Bessho plum grove) in Yamanashi Prefecture. Soga Bessho Bairin is a general term for 3 plum groves, which include Nakagawara Bairin, Hara Bairin and Bessho Bairin, and plum blossoms of about 35 thousand plum trees bloom all at the same time with the Hakone mountain ranges and Mt. Fuji in the background. In the Plum Festival held around February, you can see Yabusame (a ceremony to shoot an arrow at a target while riding on a galloping horse) and Kotobuki-Shishimai (Shishimai is a lion dance, which is a traditional performing art where a person with a lion headgear dances to festival music ) .”Kotobuki-Shishimai” of Soga Bessho is performed as a dance to exorcise evil spirits and pray for good health and harvest for the year.
Soga Bessho Bairin
Best time: From around late February every year
Address: 282 Sogabessho, Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture (Soga Bessho Plum Festival Tourism Association)
Directions: 20 min walk from “Shimo-Soga Station” of JR Tokai Gotemba Line
Famous for its early plum blossoms Atami Baien (Atami Plum Garden, Shizuoka Prefecture)
Early plum blossoms bloom from around late November to early December in Atami Baien (Atami Plum Garden). Atami has been a popular area as a hot spring health resort for a long time and the garden opened in 1886 in order to promote exercise among those who were staying for treatment. In this garden 472 plum trees of 59 different kinds, including trees over 100 years old, bloom. Atami Baien is also attractive in that you can enjoy a “Foot bath” where you can just soak your feet and relax.
Best time: From early January to early March
Address: Baien-cho, Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Directions: 10 min walk from JR “Kinomiya Station” *Shuttle buses are available from “JR Atami Station” during the period of the Plum Festival
1000-year-old white plum blossom tree Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine Baien, Kyushu
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine in Kyushu has “Tobiume”, a white plum blossom tree that is said to be over 1000 years old. A legend has it that this plum blossom flew from Kyoto following a nobleman who was demoted to this area in the early 10th century. The plum blossoms are in full bloom around mid-February every year. Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is a prestigious shrine which was built in 919 and the main shrine is designated as an important cultural asset. This is a popular spot that over 7 million people visit in the new year. In addition to Tobiume, there are also 6000 plum trees on the grounds, pleasing the eye of the visitors with beautiful plum blossoms.
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine Baien
Best time: From early February to early March every year
Address: 4-7-1 Saifu, Dazaifu City, Fukuoka Prefecture
Directions: 5 min walk from Dazaifu Station of Nishitetsu Railroad
Plum fruit is delicious to eat and has many health benefits
Japanese plum fruit, known as “Japanese apricot” in the Western countries, is famous for its effect that is said to “kill 3 toxins”. “Umeboshi”, a plum that is pickled in salt and dried in the sun, kills “food and water borne toxins” because it has sterilizing and detoxication effects. In addition, citric acid in the plum improves metabolism and kills “toxin in the blood”. Japanese plums are used in many types of food including plum wine, jam, Umeboshi, Japanese sweets and Japanese food, and they are perfect for a souvenir.
Japanese plum is loved by many people for its beautiful blossoms and delicious fruit. Let’s enjoy an alternative spring view of Japan which is as popular as cherry blossoms.