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Monday, 26th January 2015
In General Japan News,

Japan gets ready for plum festivals

Across Japan, numerous temples and shrines are undergoing preparations for the start of spring, with the flowering of the plum trees in February being a major date in the nation's calendar.

During the second month of the year, plum - or ume - matsuri are held at dozens of major places of worship as the Japanese go to parks and other outdoor areas in droves to enjoy the blossoms.

Considered something of a warm-up for the impending madness that is the sakura cherry blossoms in April, the ume matsuri make February an exceptionally pleasant time of year to be in Japan.

Ume season varies dramatically depending on where abouts you plan to visit in Japan as the southern parts of the country start to see the weather turning first. Tokyo is among the first to get the flowers, with its parks showing bursts of colour as early as the first week of February.

Koishikawa Korakuen, a landscape garden in the middle of the capital, is one of the best places to witness the flowering. A festival is held annually from February 8th which includes refreshment booths selling all manner of plum foods, such as plum yokan sweets, plum daifuku buns, and ripe plum madeleines.

Other popular spots include Hanegi Park, which holds an ume matsuri at about the same time of year. Koto instrument performances, haiku classes, outdoor matcha tea ceremonies, tea ceremonies, rice cake pounding, and other events can be attended at weekends in February and March.

Spring is undoubtedly one of the most magical times to be in Japan, with the country celebrating renewal and rejuvenation as the temperatures warm up.