An ocean of white blossoms heralds the beginning of spring. No, this is not an early sakura but it is ume, the Japanese plum. In February ume (Prunus mume or Japanese apricot, often translated as Japanese plum) is in full bloom. Time for your first picnic of the year!
At the Kishu Ishigami Tanabe Ume Orchards in the south of Wakayama Prefecture more than 300,000 ume trees cover the hillsides that stretch out right to the Pacific Ocean in the distance. The view is breath-taking!
Being in full bloom in February, they mark the beginning of the New Year according to the Lunar Calendar (Chinese New Year) and, just after Setsubun, the beginning of spring.
The best way to celebrate this beautiful spring season at Kansai’s top ume viewing spot is the same as you would do for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing: get your bento and a couple of drinks and join the locals under the ume trees. Don’t forget to wrap up warm!