Spring is a big deal in Mito. The reason for this is Kairakuen. As one of the three big gardens in Japan it changes its face throughout the seasons. Early in the year, however, is the main season of the park, as all of the Japanese plum trees are in bloom. In Kairakuen are over three thousand trees of more than one hundred species (and species mixtures). The so called Ume (梅, うめ) starts blooming in the middle of February and lasts approximately until Sakura season starts (early april). With it comes a large scale festival, Ume matsuri, during which it almost seems that all of Japan travels to the countryside.
This year the festivities started at the 20th February, when I was still in Okinawa. Last weekend I had the chance to enjoy the awakening of spring. Already this early in the season the park is well crowded and many trees are already in full bloom. It will not take long until the park is coloured in many shades of white, light pink to deep purple. At the height of this season there will be the candle night where the park is open at night; featuring the first fireworks of the year. Some time earlier the plum wine festival will be held. Vendors from all around Japan come to exhibit their goods, which includes tasting. The venture is Tokiwa Jinja (I might have reported about that recently, or it is still coming). This time the park is probably most crowded during all of the year. If I have the time and find friends to go again, I’ll report on that. From the title itself you can guess that there will be at least another post, probably towards the end of the season.
But enough of the talking, please enjoy a few early impressions of spring in Mito.
Ibarakey has plenty of information about the festival in English. Thank you CIRs!