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Japan’s plum blossoms are already in the pink

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

The coldest time of the year is upon us, and hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) is still more than a month away. But if you can’t wait to see petite pink flowers in bloom, visit the Ume Matsuri festival, which kicked off in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, on Feb. 1. and continues through March 16.

Mukoyama Ryokuchi Park has more than 400 ume (Japanese plum) trees, many of which are about 40 years old, and some of which are already in blossom. There are 28 different types of ume trees in the park, which means they will bloom at different times during the span of the festival.

The main event takes place on Feb. 23, when young ume-tree plants will be handed out as gifts to visitors between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. If you’re not confident that you can nurture a tree at home, don’t worry because from 11 a.m. there will also a one-hour workshop on how to take care of your plant. Free amazake sweet rice wine will also be served to visitors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the same day.

The Ume Mastsuri at Mukoyama Ryokuchi Park in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture continues till March 16. Entrance is free. Plants and amazake are only offered on Feb. 23. For more information visit www.city.toyohashi.aichi.jp/bu_sangyo/kanko/ume.html, or call 0532-51-2430.