Plum blossom is a special flower in Japan that tells people that spring is really close. (And it is right now!) They start to bloom in February and many plum blossom festivals are held in February and March. One of the best spot to view them is Kairakuen in Mito City, Ibaraki prefecture.
Mito is a nice day trip from Tokyo if you want to escape the big city. This small city with 264.000 people is only a little over 1 hour away from Ueno station in Tokyo by express train. Once in Mito you have to take the bus to Kairakuen so you better have enough cash with you. On special days there stops a train at the Kairakuen station. If you like to walk, the garden can be reached in a 30 minute walk along the Senba Lake (an English city map of Mito is available at the station’s sightseeing information desk)
100 different blossom varieties
The garden is relatively new, it was built in 1841 by the local lord Tokugawa Nariaki and it’s one of the 3 most beautiful gardens in Japan. This park wasn’t only made for the local lord’s enjoyment but it was open for everyone which was quite rare. In Plum season there are about 3000 trees carrying about 100 different varieties of blossom. You will see red, pink and white blossoms everywhere!
Other events are also held in the garden like “Nodate,” where you can enjoy powdered green tea outdoors and “Yagai Koto-no-kai”, an outdoor koto performance. Different stands will sell souvenirs, lots of food and handmade craft so you can’t leave empty handed!
More than plum blossom
Kairakuen has more than the plum blossom, it has a bamboo grove, cedar woods and the Kobuntei, a traditional Japanese style building. The Kobuntei is also open for everyone were you can learn more about the park and also relax after a long walk in the park. Or you could rest on the train ride home after a beautiful day in Kairakuen, Mito.