Spring in Japan usually brings visions of one thing to people's mind – cherry blossoms. There are plenty of other beautiful blooms to enjoy during the season, however, and one of them is plum blossoms. Often overshadowed by their more well-known counterpart, plum blossoms tend to signal the start of spring's arrival and have a beauty and charm all of their own.
If you're headed to the Tokyo area, this guide covers some of the region's best spots to enjoy these lovely blooms.
Shinjuku Gyoen is a popular spot for Japan travelers year-round thanks to its landscaped gardens and wide array of plant life to enjoy. Around 300 plum trees are planted on the grounds, with a significant number of those surrounding the Rakuu-tei Tea House where visitors can enjoy green tea and traditional sweets.
Following on from plum blossom season, Shinjuku Gyoen is also regarded as one of the city's top sakura viewing destinations.
11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0014
Kameido Tenjin Shrine
The Kameido Tenjin Shrine precincts are filled with around 300 plum trees that blossom in different shades ranging from white to dark pink, and a festival is held from early February to early March to celebrate the blooms. If you can't make it in time for plum blossom season, the shrine is also known for its beautiful wisteria flowers which peak from late April until early May.
3 Chome-6-1 Kameido, Koto City, Tokyo 136-0071
Yushima Tenjin Shrine
Another great shrine option for plum aficionados is Yushima Tenjin, located a short distance from Ueno Park. The shrine grounds have been a famous plum blossom viewing spot since the Edo Period, and an official plum blossom festival has been held here since 1958. The annual celebration includes traditional music and dance performances on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays during the event dates.
3 Chome-30-1 Yushima, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0034
Widely regarded as one of Tokyo's most stunning landscape gardens, Rikugien is worth a visit no matter the season. When it comes to plum trees there are a number of them around Fujishiro pass, an artificial hill in the park that stands about 35 meters high.
If you can't plan a visit to coincide with the plum trees in bloom, the gardens are also revered for their beauty during sakura season just around the corner.
6 Chome-16-3 Honkomagome, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0021
Takao Plum Village
You may have already heard of Mount Takao – it's a popular spot for hiking in the Tokyo area. The Takao Plum Village is approximately 15 minutes on foot from Takao Station, and it comprises of several plum tree groves with a total of around 10,000 trees to enjoy. You can get a glimpse of what to expect in the area via this Japan Travel photo story.
313 Uratakaomachi, Hachioji, Tokyo 193-0841
Ikegami Plum Garden
Located in Ota Ward, the Ikegami Plum Garden sits on a quiet hillside and is home to around 30 different plum blossom types plus azalea bushes which bloom later in spring. A fun fact: the plum blossom has been the official flower of Ota City since 1976 thanks to their long history in this part of Tokyo.
2 Chome-2-13 Ikegami, Ota City, Tokyo 146-0082
Setagaya's Hanegi Park boasts an impressive 650 plum trees across its grounds, comprising of approximately 230 red plum and 420 white plum varieties. During the blooming season an annual festival is held here, and it also includes some fun cultural activities – tea ceremonies, mochi pounding, and taiko drumming performances are all on the agenda for this year's event.
4 Chome-38-52 Daita, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0033