Jess' Japan Travel Journal
by Jess, writer

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2016/03/08 - Plum Blossom Report from Kairakuen

About two hours north of Tokyo lies the city of Mito, home of Kairakuen, one of the top three landscape gardens in Japan along with Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and Korakuen in Okayama. Although a great visit at any time of the year spring is an especially popular time due to the many plum trees planted on the park grounds.

Kairakuen features 3000 plum trees with about 100 varieties of plums ranging in color from white to dark pink. During late February through March the park holds the Mito Plum Blossom Festival to celebrate the blooming trees. This year's festival is from February 20 to March 31 and is the 120th anniversary. I visited Kairakuen in the hope of seeing some beautiful flowers and was not disappointed!

Beautiful vibrant pink blossoms

As of March 1 over 75% of trees were reported to have opened and with today's visit it seemed like many of the trees were already in full bloom or close to that point. The day was very warm for early March and this winter has been mild, so the bloom schedule for the plum blossoms has been a bit fast.

This tree is in full bloom

I arrived at the park around 10:00 and although the day was supposed to be sunny according to the weather forecast, the sun had not yet burnt off the clouds and rain drops still clung to many of the blossoms. I strolled through the bamboo forest and browsed the festival booths then had an early lunch while waiting for the sun to come out. By noon the sun was breaking free of the clouds and the path between the trees quickly became crowded with people out enjoying the day.

Fallen petals and rain drops
Still a little cloudy
Getting crowded along the paths

I also visited the historic wooden building of Kobuntei located inside the park. While entrance to the garden is free, Kobuntei requires an extra fee of 200 yen. It offers a nice view from the top of its three stories as well as some beautifully painted sliding screen doors.

Chrysanthemum room at Kobuntei
View from the third floor.

Besides booths selling snacks and various Mito goods, the plum festival also features the Mito Plum Ambassadors to take pictures with and a light up of the blossoms from sunset until 21:00 March 4 to 21.

Take home a cute Mito character while you're there!
Plum ambassadors pose for pictures
Lanterns ready for the light up
Kairakuen is bordered by train tracks and a busy road, but a nice lake and more walking paths with plum trees can be enjoyed by crossing over one of the pedestrian bridges. In the early afternoon the crowds were concentrated around Kobuntei and the paths in the main park area, but over the bridge there were not many people at all and the atmosphere was very peaceful.
Crocuses blooming under the plum trees
Enjoying the atmosphere
Birds and bees were enjoying the flowers too!
Plums and bridge
Three colors of blossoms
Two colors on the same tree
I love flowers!

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List of Posts:
2016/06/06 - Ajisai Viewing in Kamakura
2016/04/20 - Nemophila at Hitachi Seaside Park
2016/04/18 - Alpen Route Snow Wall 2016
2016/03/08 - Plum Blossom Report from Kairakuen
2016/02/24 - 2016 Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival Report