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White Plum Blossoms at Kyoto Gyoen National Garden

It’s getting to be the season for plum flower viewing.

Today, Hanami (花見) usually means cherry blossom viewing. However, in the Nara period, people loved plum flowers a lot. The custom of plum flower viewing was brought from China by Kentoshi (Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty China). We can find many Waka (和歌, tanka poetry) about plum flowers in Manyosyu (万葉集, the oldest collection of Japanese poetry) which was compiled during the Nara period. After the abolition of Kentoshi in the Heian period, Japan-specific culture became the trend and the cherry blossom succeeded the plum flower as the object of admiration in Hanami.

Heian nobles loved viewing cherry blossoms, sung so many love poems, and enjoyed their lives. Compared with the cherry blossom, plum flowers can be less gorgeous, yet they have a wonderful role of announcing the arrival of spring.

It’s so nice to stroll in gentle warm sunlight, while the sweet scents of pretty plum flowers drift on the breeze. Plum flower viewing is wonderful.

Akane Kibune

3mins. from Imadegawa station, Subway Karasuma line