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Published: February 22nd 2021
21st February- Early Spring Plum Blossom
It was 11pm Sunday in U.K. & 8am Monday in Tokyo when we visited Koganei Park close to where our virtual guide lived in a Western suburb of Tokyo.
The park covers 200 acres & through the seasons and abundance of plum blossom, cherry blossom, hydrangeas, wisteria & rhododendron.
Volunteers help with the upkeep of the park.
Originally introduced from China, the Japanese plum has played an important role in Japanese culture for many centuries.
The plum is associated with the start of spring, because plum blossoms are some of the first blossoms to open during the year. In most areas of Japan they typically flower in February and March.
Plum blossom came to symbolize perseverance and hope, as well as beauty & purity.
Most plum blossoms have five petals and range in color from white to dark pink.
There was a map in the park with pictures of the 27 varieties showing where each tree was planted. The trees had tag labels to easily identify each species.
Unlike cherry blossom, plum blossoms have a
strong, sweet fragrance. We could only imagine the aroma as we virtually strolled around and under the blossom.
Yusuke our guide pointed out a few of his favourites. Mandarin Duck - Sleeping Dragon & Peony. He was very good at getting in close so that we could enjoy the beauty of the blossom.
Plum fruit is used in many ways but the most popular processed form is the umeboshi, a sour, pickled plum, which is usually enjoyed with cooked rice.
Yusuke showed us a picture of this dish that also resembled the Japanese flag.
We also saw how blossom features in all forms of art, Yusuke was proud to show us a selection of new year cards made by himself, his mother & a friend.
22nd February is a National Holiday in Japan - Emperor’s Birthday.
April 30th, 2019, saw the end of the Heisei Era and the beginning of a new era, the Reiwa Era. “Reiwa”, a term that comes from Japan’s oldest anthology of poetry, the Man’yō-shū, has been interpreted to mean “beautiful harmony”.
The current era name, Reiwa was inspired
by an ume poem in the Manyoshu. In fact,
The poem is found in the section called “Thirty Two Poems on Plum Blossoms”.
The English translation: “In this auspicious month of early spring, the weather is fine and the wind gentle. The plum blossoms open like powder before a mirror while the orchids give off the sweet scent of a sachet”.
I do hope there will be more tours of this type, hopefully when the cherry blossom is in bloom at the end of March.
I went to bed at midnight feeling very relaxed having spent a wonderful 45 minutes amongst the blossom trees.
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