The pure and light beauty of plum flowers makes many people think of cherry-blossom, even confuse plum with cherry-blossom.
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At the end of the winter- about in mid-February, with an interval of low temperatures and cold weather. Then it’s gradually warming and many flowers start blooming. This creates a pleasurable feeling when spring comes.
Plum flowers or apricot flowers are called Ume in Japan, are one of the earliest blooming flowers with various bright colors.
It is common that plum flowers are compared with cherry blossoms about the pure beauty. Many people love cherry blossoms, but I prefer plum flowers because of rustic and strong attractiveness.
Another interesting fact is that many foreigners, even those living in Japan for a long time remain to confuse plum flowers and cherry blossoms. Even, this confusion also occurs with a small number of Japanese people.
Cherry blossoms are in bloom in late March – early April, but sometimes we can still observe plum flowers at this time. This makes up lots of confusion because they are similar in color and flower structure.
There are many ways to identify plum flowers and cherry blossoms, but I often distinguish them based on two characteristics: the shape of petals and the location of flowers blooming on a branch.
In plum flowers, the shape of petals is round and flowers are bloom right on the branch while cherry blossoms are elongated oval, sunken at the top of each petal and long-stemmed flowers attached to the branch . In addition, the bark of cherry trees is dark with more horizontal lines.
Besides enjoying the beauty of flowers, the Japanese also use plum fruits to process a specialty called Umeboshi or Japanese salt plums, which is often called a plum but is actually more closely related to the apricot. Umeboshi are a popular kind of tsukemono (pickles) and are extremely sour and salty. They are usually served as side dishes for rice or eaten on rice balls (often without removing the pit) for breakfast and lunch. They are occasionally served boiled or seasoned for dinner.
The time plum blossoms bloom is also a time for flowers viewing festival that lasts until the end of March in Japan.
Some famous places to view plum blossom in Japan are Kairakuen (Ibaraki Prefecture), Inabeshi nougyo koen, Akatsuka teien no mori (Mie Prefecture), Jonangu (Kyoto).Plus, you can also view the plum blossom in Kintaikyo Bridge (Yamaguchi Prefecture) or Osaka Prefecture.