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The best spots for plum-viewing in and around Tokyo

The top places for welcoming the first signs of spring

Plum – or ume – flowers may not be as spectacular as the cherry blossoms, which bloom around a month later and symbolise spring in Japan. Still, these mainly white and pink beauties have been held in high regard for over a millennium, and are renowned for their pleasant fragrance that fills the Tokyo air from early February to mid-March. Plum trees can of course be found all over the city, but the parks, shrines, temples and gardens listed here rank among the top ume-viewing spots, many of which have been popular since the Edo era. Wear your warm jacket and head out to admire these heralds of early spring.

The top ume spots

Mukojima Hyakkaen Plum Festival

Mukojima Hyakkaen, the only surviving Edo-era flower garden in Tokyo, boasts an impressive collection of ume plum trees that bloom beautifully in early spring. This festival takes place to celebrate the colourful scenery and features performances of traditional arts and dances...

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Mukojima Hyakkaen , Mukojima Until Sunday March 5 2017

Sankeien Plum-Viewing

Although best known for its cherry blossoms, Yokohama's spacious Sankeien is also a nice choice for plum-watching. Bursting into white and pink from early February to mid-March, the around 600 trees here include a few rare varieties. A plum tree bonsai exhibition, performances of traditional music, monkey shows (!) and free barley tea...

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Sankeien Garden , Yokohama Until Sunday March 5 2017

Koishikawa Korakuen Plum Festival

Constructed under the watchful eye of 17th century Tokugawa daimyo Mito Komon, Koishikawa Korakuen's plum tree garden remains beautiful to this day. The best time to visit the grounds is in late February, when the trees become filled with purple and white flowers...

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Koishikawa Korakuen , Suidobashi Until Sunday March 5 2017

Jindai Plum Festival

The Jindai Botanical Garden's plum park turns pink, purple, and white around the middle of February, when the approximately 180 plum trees burst into bloom. There will be guided tours during the festival period, and visitors can also learn more about traditional plum-growing techniques...

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Jindai Botanical Garden , Chofu Until Sunday March 5 2017

Keio Mogusaen Plum Festival

Boasting a total of 500 plum trees, some of them more than 300 years old, Hino's Mogusaen has long been famed as one of Tokyo's best ume-viewing spots. Once frequented by literary greats like novelist Kenjiro Tokutomi and poet Bokusui Wakayama, the park is still an impressive sight in February and March...

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Keio Mogusaen , Tama area Until Sunday March 12 2017

Bunkyo Ume Matsuri

Yushima Tenjin shrine has been a popular spot for plum blossom lovers since the Edo period, and crowds still flock there each year to see its 300-odd ume trees in full bloom. The shrine's annual Ume Matsuri hits its peak towards the end of February and is busiest on the weekends...

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Yushima Tenjin , Yushima Until Wednesday March 8 2017

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