Oh, I see cherry blossoms!
When foreigners visit Japan around end of February or early March, they get excited with the sight of what might seem to be cherry blossoms. If there’s any flower that’s associated with spring in Japan, its the cherry blossom!
But did you know that other than cherry blossoms, Japan has two other main flowering trees: peach and plum blossoms.
Further, the most popular type of cherry blossom is the Somei Yoshino but there are other early flowering varieties like the Kanzakura (winter cherry blossom).
Let’s learn how to differentiate between plum, peach and cherry blossoms!
Plum flowers bloom earlier than cherry blossoms. Usually you will see shades of light pink, some close to white dotting parks around late January. This is the first sign and sight of approaching spring. Plum flowers stick to the branches and the petals are round, one of the key distinctions between cherry and plum blossoms.
Further each bud produces only one plum blossom unlike sakura that blooms like a bouquet.
Finally, the leaves of a plum tree are a darker color and sometimes even reddish purple.
Spots in Tokyo to see plum blossoms: Hanegi Park, Rikugien, Yoyogi Park, Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
With plum blossoms, you might also see peach blossoms around late February to early March. Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Festival) is celebrated on “momo no sekku,” meaning peach flower festival, on March 3, the time when peach flowers bloom.
The petals of these flowers are pointed and bloom on the short stems. Compared to plum and cherry blossoms, peach blossoms have a vivid pink color.
Our recommended place to see peach blossoms is in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Koga Park, Ibaraki Prefecture
Address: 399-1 Konosu, Koga, Ibaraki
Map : https://goo.gl/maps/Ei8yXU8GrFU2
Fuefuki-tougenkyou: Japan’s No. 1 Flower Garden
Best viewing period: Early to late April
Map : https://goo.gl/maps/L92rsxowfBE2
And finally let’s talk about cherry blossoms. You can see a variety of cherry blossom trees all over Japan and depending on the variety, the flowers start blooming from early April to early May starting from the south of Japan. There are about 600 types of cherry blossoms in Japan.
Cherry blossom petals are long and have a small split at the end. Unlike peach blossoms, one bud can produce more than one flower and you see whole branches of trees covered in pink.
See the differences
Left – plum blossom; Middle – peach blossom; Right – cherry blossom
Mejiro (Japanese white-eye)
Along with the blossoms, spotting Mejiro in trees is a sure arrival of spring. A native species from Japan, the bird is green on its back and pale green on its underside. Like other white-eyes, you can see a distinct white eyering (mejiro = white eye). Very sociable, you can see them pecking on the pollen in the flowers and they make for a great Insta shot!!
Are you excited to visit Japan in spring and check out the differences for yourself? All of the flowers are a great opportunity to use your camera! Happy clicking.