Come View Plum Blossoms in Fukuoka!
When people talk about cherry blossoms, I am pretty sure that many of you would know what it is all about. People all around the world are really familiar with the famous Japanese cherry blossoms. They may have probably gone for at least a cherry blossom festival or two in some place or another. Or they may even know a traditional Japanese folk song celebrating this beautiful flower.
The Plum Blossom Season Comes First. Cherry Blossom Season Comes Next!
Before the cherry blossoms begin to appear, however, another stunning and charming tree graces the island of Japan. Yes, I am referring to the plum blossoms. Mid-February is the start of spring and it also marks the beginning of the plum blossom season. It was originally introduced from China. For many centuries, the Japanese plum (or sometimes referred to as the Japanese apricot), has played a significant role in the Japanese culture. Its fame was ultimately outshined by that of the cherry tree.
The plum tree also offers a special treat – not only are the flowers gorgeous and especially sweet-scented, but they are surrounded by captivating red or purple leaves on many tree diversities.
One more thought-provoking fact is that the ume fruit is actually sourer than the Western plum or apricot, and is often processed in various forms before eaten. The most popular one is umeboshi, a sour, pickled plum, which is normally eaten along with cooked rice.
“Perfect Place for Japanese Students to Pray For Success”
In Fukuoka, Dazaifu Tenmangu is commonly known as the perfect place for Japanese students to pray for success in exams, but did you know that it is also famous for a legendary and mythical plum blossom called tobiume (flying plum)?
It was based on the tragic story of Sugawara no Michizane, a historic figure of the Heian era, who was unjustly banished from Kyoto and sent to Dazaifu. Legend has it that a plum tree, touched by his story, flew to Dazaifu to follow the master. Now, the plum trees, 10 generations after the original, welcome you on both sides of the main building of the shrine. The plum tree is not only the symbol of Dazaifu Tenmangu but, more importantly, the flower of Fukuoka Prefecture.
As for the origin and source of the plum trees, there are some competing theories. Some believe that they originally grew in the northern part of Kyushu; others believe the Japanese envoy to the Tang Dynasty brought them here with other items of Chinese culture, thinking them valuable medication.
When Will the Plum Blossoms Reach Full Bloom in Fukuoka?
Plum blossoms begin to bloom, if the weather stays fine, in the middle of January, coming to full bloom in the middle of February. Tobiume, blooming a little earlier than the other 300 kinds, is cherished as a reminder of the coming of spring, and this, combined with uguisu (the bird whose song signals the arrival of spring), often appear on hanafuda (Japanese flower cards).
The time period between the middle of February and the middle of March is the perfect time to enjoy plum blossom viewing. So why not grab this opportunity to view the plum blossoms in full bloom now before the cherry blossom season starts?
Recommended Plum Blossom Spots in Fukuoka
Tenmangu Shrine is located about 250 meters from Dazaifu station, and the entire length of the approach is lined with shops that cater to the shrine’s visitors. There are about 6,000 fragrant plum blossoms of various types.
Maizuru Park is composed mainly of Fukuoka castle grounds and is bounded on two sides by what remains of the castle walls and moat. There are around 200 white and 150 red plum blossoms. It is also close to Ohori Koen and is also famous for cherry blossoms.
You will get to see a picturesque view of the coastline in Itoshima. There are about 3,000 plum blossoms.