11 Best Places to See Plum Blossom in Japan 2022

plum Places to visit in Japan

Japan is a country which has a large variety of beautiful flowers. What comes to your mind first is probably sakura, the pink lovely flower which is seen as Japan’s symbolic flower that blooms in the spring season. But did you know there is a similar, equally beautiful flower that people often mistakenly think of as sakura? The blossoming plum, known as ume (梅), in Japanese, looks very similar to the sakura flower and they also bloom in spring. They start however blooming earlier than sakura, generally from mid- February until the end of March.

Like sakura flowers, the small pretty flower comes in different varieties but typically plum blossoms have 5 petals, no leaf stalks and have a sweet fragrance. They come in colors ranging from white to dark pink, with most of them colored pink. Because they blossom earlier, plum is for many the mark of the arrival of spring and the warmer weather. Vacationing during the plum season is a great way to avoid the big crowds and offers a great opportunity to enjoy early spring season in Japan in different way. There are various locations across Japan where you can admire the plum blossoms in full glory. Here is our list of 11 best places to see plum blossom in Japan!

1. Kairakuen (Ibaraki)

Kairakuen is a beautiful Japanese-style garden located in the heart of Mito city, Ibaraki prefecture. Built in 1842, it is ranked as one of the Japan’s three great gardens along with Korakuen in Okayama prefecture, and Kenrokuen in Kanazawa prefecture. The gardens were built by Tokugawa Nariaki, a local daimyo, during the Edo Period as a garden for everyone to enjoy. The lovely garden is widely appreciated as a famous plum blossom viewing spot with approximately 3,000 plum trees of 100 different varieties which generally start to open in late February. From mid-February through late March, Mito Plum Blossom Festival is held every year, which attract numerous visitors from around Japan.

Kairakuen Garden
6am – 7pm (mid February to September)
7am – 6pm (October to mid February)
Entrance fee: ¥300
Best time for plum blossoms: February to mid-March  

How to get to Kairakuen Garden

From Tokyo, take the JR Hitachi-Tokiwa train to JR Mito Station. Take a bus from the north exit of Mito Station that is bound for Kairakuen bus stop(15 min).

2. Bairin-ji (Fukuoka)

If you have the chance to travel to Fukuoka during plum blossom season, visit Bairinji to admire the beautiful plum blossoms in full bloom! The small Buddhist temple, which belongs to the Rinzai Sect, is also nicknamed the temple of plums. A fitting nickname for a temple whose kanji (梅林) means plum blossom forest. The history of the temple dates back to 1621, when it was originally established by the Arima family who ruled the region for about 250 years through the Edo Period. This peaceful temple ground is home to 500 plum blossom trees of 30 different varieties which come with white, pink, and red plum blossoms! If you can’t visit early in the plum season, going at the end of March will also be a great option for seeing cherry blossoms in full blossom.

梅林寺

Bairin-ji
Open 24 hours
Free admission
Best time for plum blossoms: late February – mid-March

How to get to Bairin-ji

About 5 min walk from JR Kurume Station

3. Atami Plum Garden (Shizuoka)

Atami Plum Garden is a popular plum blossom viewing spot located in the eastern part of  Shizuoka prefecture. The garden is widely known for having one of the fastest blooming plum trees in Japan which start blooming as early as December. They boast some 500 plum trees of 60 different varieties, including some old trees that have been in existence for over 100 years. The best time of the year is from mid-January through the end of March, which is relatively long. This is because each species of the plum trees start to bloom in different time. If you visit there from early February to mid-March, you will also be able to enjoy early blooming sakura at some famous spots such as Kawazu and Shimogamo Onsen. In addition to the spring flowers, Atami Plum Garden is also famous for its’ long autumn foliage season.

Atami Plum Garden
8.30am – 4pm
Entrance fee: ¥300
Best time for plum blossom: om mid-January to late March

How to get to Atami Plum Garden

About 15min bus ride from JR Atami Station

4. Inabe City Agriculture Park (Mie)

Inabe City Agriculture Park is a public park which is located in Inabe city, Mie prefecture. It is widely recognized as one of the largest plum blossoms viewing spots in Tokai area which comprises Aichi, Mie and Gifu (and sometimes includes Shizuoka) prefectures in the central part of Japan’s main island. Nestled at the base of Suzuka mountain range, it is home to 100 varieties of some 4,500 plum trees which start to blossom from late February through mid-March. From the observation point overlooking the entire park and surrounding mountains, you can enjoy the great views of colorful patchwork created by pink, white and red plum trees along with the snow-capped mountains in the background! The park also hosts a plum festival in March every year.

Inabe City Agriculture Park
9am – 4pm
Entrance fee Plum Festival ¥500
Best time for plum blossoms: From late February to mid-March

How to get to Inabe City Agriculture Park

From Kintetsu Kuwana Station, head to Nishi-kuwana station and take the Sangi Railway Hokusei Line, Get off at Ageki station and it is about a 20min taxi ride to Inabe City Agriculture Park

5. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (Kyoto)

Kitano Tenmangu is a historic Shinto shrine located in the northern part of Kyoto city. This sacred shrine is dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a notable scholar back in the 9th century. The beautiful shrine structures are worth a visit any time of year, but it particularly attracts numerous visitors during early spring season. From the beginning of February some 2,000 plum trees, comprising about 50 different varieties, cover the shrine grounds and get filled with colorful plum blossoms. Every year, the Plum Blossom Festival (Baikasai Nodate Ochanoyu) is held on February 25th, a mass tea ceremony where you can enjoy traditional Japanese sweets and tea served by Geisha and Maiko.
Can’t visit the shrine in spring? Autumn is a great alternative, in fall the hundreds of maple trees in the Foliage Garden of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine are one of Kyoto’s best spots for autumn leaves!

Kitano Tenmangu
5am – 5.30pm
Free admission
Best time for plum blossoms: early february to late March

How to get to Kitano Tenmangu

From JR Kyoto Station, it is a 35 min bus ride to Kitano Tenmangu. 

6. Tsukigase Plum Valley (Nara)

Tsukigase Plum Valley is a scenic natural attraction located in the northern part of Nara prefecture. It attracts numerous visitors ever years as one of the most popular plum blossoms viewing spots in Kansai region. The Satsuki river runs through the beautiful mountainous valley which is home to approximately 10,000 plum trees which start to bloom in early February. As you take a stroll along the valley, you will be welcomed by the pleasant smell of plum flowers which also attracts small birds. In early April, about 3,000 Sakura trees are in full bloom, which also offers an incredible scenery.     

Tsukigase Plum Valley
Open 24 hours
Free admission
Best time for plum blossoms: mid-February to late March

How to get to Tsukigase Plum Valley

The valley isn’t well connected to the public transport, if you don’t have a (rental) car take a train to the nearest station JR Tsukigaseguchi Station. The plum grove is about 15 min from the station by taxi.

7. Ano Plum Grove (Nara)

Another must-visit plum blossom spot in Nara is Ano Plum Grove. From JR Gojo station, it is a 20 min bus ride to reach the peaceful mountainous area which is widely recognized as one of the most famous plum blossoms viewing spots in Japan. The history of the plum grove in Ano is said to date back to the 14th century. The beautiful scenery is described in some poetry written by court nobles during that period. There are approximately 20,000 plum trees around Ano area, which is twice as large as the number of plum trees in Tsukigase Plum Valley! From late February to late March, pink, white, and red plum flowers spread across the vast hillside, which offers a breathtaking scenery.

Ano Plum Grove
8.30am – 5pm
Free admission
Best time for plum blossoms: late February to late March

How to get to Ano Plum Grove

It is about 20 min from JR Gojo Station by bus

8. Korakuen (Okayama)

Korakuen is a scenic Japanese garden and one of the most popular tourist attraction in Okayama. Along with Kairakuen in Ibaraki prefecture, and Kenrokuen in Ishikawa prefecture, the is recognized as one of Japan’s three great gardens. It was originally built by Ikeda Tsunamasa, the second feudal load of the Okayama domain during the Edo Period. The garden is home to a wide variety of seasonal flowers and plants that can be enjoyed all year round. From early February through early April, it becomes a perfect spot to enjoy both plum and sakura blossoms. Okayama Castle is another popular tourist attraction which is easily accessible by crossing the Tsukimi bridge from the south exit of the garden! 

Okayama Korakuen
7.30am – 6pm (March 20 to September)
8am – 5pm (October to March 19)
Admission fee: ¥410 (garden only), ¥580 (combi ticket Okayama Castle)
Best time for plum blossoms: early February to early March

How to get to Okayama Korakuen

It is about 10min from JR Okayama station by bus.

9. Ritsurin Garden (Kagawa)

If you are planning to visit Shikoku region during your trip to Japan in early spring season, Ritsurin Garden is a perfect spot to admire the beautiful plum blossoms! The construction of the garden started in the early 17th century by the feudal lord of Takamatsu clan. It is a Kaiyu-style garden, which is quite typical to the traditional Japanese gardens built during the period by powerful feudal clans. This style of gardens feature circulating pathways, which allows visitors to exploring around the garden easily. At the end of February, Ritsurin Garden Plum Festival is held every year. Although the number of plum trees there is relatively small compared to other plum viewing spots, the scenic garden itself is definitely worth a visit! April is also a great time of the year to enjoy sakura blossoms.    

Ritsurin Garden
Opening times differ per month, generally from sunrise to sunset
Admission fee ¥410
Best time for plum blossoms: late February to early March

How to get to Ritsurin Garden

From JR Takamatsu station, take the JR Kotoku Line to Ritsurin-koen Kitaguchi. It is about a 2min walk to Ritsurin Garden. 

10. Furo-en Plum Garden (Yamanashi)

Furo-en Plum Garden is a small garden located on the side of a small hill near Mt. Fuji. The garden is another place known as a beautiful plum blossom spot. Walking around the garden you will be surrounded by the sweet and refreshing plum aroma from more than 3,000 plum blossom trees of 20 different varieties. There are several short hiking trails that you can enjoy while enjoying the sight of the plum trees with the snow-capped Mt. Fuji at the backdrop.

Furo-en Plum Garden
9am – 5pm
Admission fee ¥500
Best time for plum blossoms: mid February to mid March

Furoen Plum Blossom Mount Fuji

How to get to Furo-en Plum Garden

From the nearest train station Sakaori Station, the gardens are a 10 minute walk.

11. Yushima Tenjin (Tokyo)

If you live in Tokyo and are looking for your a plum blossom viewing experience nearby, head to Yushima Tenjin (also known as Yushima Tenmangu) located in Bunkyo-ward, Tokyo. This small Shinto shrine sits at the top of a slope in Tokyo’s Ueno district, near Ueno Park, and visited by many students as it is dedicated to the god of scholarship and learning. However not only students wishing to pass exams visit the shrine, it also attracts other visitors with the beautiful plum blossoms. The Bunkyo Plum Festival is held at the shrine from early February to early March. During the festival, visitors can enjoy trying local specialties at small stalls, Japanese drum performances, and the illuminated plum blossoms at night.

Yushima Tenjin
Best time for plum blossoms: early February to early March

How to get to Yushima Tenjin

It is a few minutes’ walk from Yushima station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line 

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Since ancient times, plum blossoms have been loved by Japanese people. Although they originally came from China and were introduced to Japan around the late 3rd Century, it is now part of Japanese lives as a symbol which tell us the arrival of spring earlier than cherry blossoms. If you have time to travel around Japan in early spring season, don’t forget to visit the plum blossom spots introduced above!   

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Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with travelling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. Also love to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.

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