I Saw Her Standing There

What a pretty face, eh?

Plum Blossoms in Japan

Japan loves the cherry blossoms the most, and one can get a good idea why—it’s usually warmer, for one, as the cherry blossoms are around April but the plum blossoms are around Feburary—but for my money, the plum blossoms are best. They have a delightfully sweet fragrance, the flower itself is lovelier, and it is often less busy outside to see them.

Japan didn’t always love sakura (cherry blossoms) best. The plum blossoms (ume) are the favorite in China and are one of the country’s most beloved symbols. They are so loved in part because they bloom when it is still winter and are seen as a symbol of the coming spring. They symbolize perseverance and hope, beauty, purity, and the transitoriness of life.

Early Japan copied this love of the plum blossoms[1], but around the Heian Period[2] things started to change and the cherry blossoms gradually became more popular.

Many of you may be familar with hanami[3] which is enjoying the cherry blossoms. Hanami can also refer to enjoying the plum blossoms, or you might also hear the word umemi[4] to specify this.

Daily Photo: I Saw Her Standing There

A lone plum blossom, one of the first of the season from a few years ago. I added the texture to isolate it and highlight its beauty.

  1. Back when copying from China was cool.  ↩

  2. 794–1185  ↩

  3. 花見—literally flower-viewing, but usually used to mean cherry blossom viewing  ↩

  4. 梅見—plum-viewing  ↩

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