The aptly-named "Plum Hill" (ume-gaoka) was our destination this sunny weekend. Though the ume is commonly translated as plum, it's actually a rather bitter apricot. Nevertheless, its now blossoming all around Tokyo.


The plum blossom festival 「梅祭り」officially ended last weekend, but after 3 years in Japan, we've learnt to ignore the "official dates" of festivals related to nature, and now use our own judgement. Cherry blossoms tend to have a very accurate forecast, and their associated festivals are organised on very short notice. The plums blossom before the cherry trees, and this time of year is rather topsy-turvy. Only a handful of the trees in Tokyo have reached full bloom, so if you're in Tokyo right now, this week is the ideal viewing time.

Plum Hill is only a short walk from our apartment in western Tokyo. 

I think that we found the best plum blossoms during our journey towards Plum Hill, rather than at Plum Hill. There were probably two reasons for this:

  1. variety
  2. no crowds, and thus no horrendous clashing colours, loud noises, etc...

Make sure to wear your loudest jacket when viewing nature

Brightly coloured jackets seem to be in fashion, or at least they're very popular. What's the difference between fashion and popularity?  I wonder...

Apparently, there are over 100 plum trees at ume-gaoka, and though it's easily accessible, I'd recommend walking the backstreets of Setagaya-ward instead.

Away from the crowds, you're more likely to find some wildlife, too:

The Japanese White Eye (目白) in a Japanese Plum Tree

The Spring transitional phase is upon us, creating some odd weather patterns. We were very lucky to enjoy a weekend of perfect blues, pinks, and whites. It won't be long at all until the cherry blossoms festivities kick off, but until then, we'll continue to enjoy the beautiful plum blossoms.