Location: California, United States

There are no random acts. We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind. (the five people you meet in heaven)

Monday, March 06, 2006

梅林・Bairin (Plum Forest)

Plum blossoms take me back to the three years I lived in Gifu (岐阜.) East of the center of town, you will find梅林公園 Bairin Koen (Plum Forest Park.) While I lived in Gifu, I would cycle to work each day, 8 km one way. I always made sure to leave a little early in late February/early March so that I could take a detour and spend a few minutes lingering in the Plum Forest Park, one of my favorite places in the city.

I was delighted to find a similar grove of plum trees in Osaka near Osaka Castle (大阪城.) If you cross the first moat onto the lower portion of the castle grounds, you will find a large Plum Forest (梅林.) I had thought that the blossoms would already be out in full force by mid-February, but as February rolled into March, I was still waiting for the spectacular sight.
Everyone knows that Japan is famous for its cherry blossoms and the お花見 (O-Hanami, parties to sit and drink under the cherry blossoms.) However, given the choice, I will always pick the plum blossoms. While cherry blossoms are a light pink (薄いピンク), plum blossoms come in a variety of colors, ranging from white to light pink to magenta. I love the colors, but, really, it’s the scent that gets me. I have a very keen sense of smell, and as I approach a grove of plum trees, the smell often overpowers me. It is absolutely delicious. This is one of the best things about this time of year in Japan. Unfortunately, it’s too cold now to sit out under the plum trees and enjoy them like the cherry blossoms in late March/early April.

The other night, I had dinner in a sushi bar and was chatting with the chef. When I told him that I would be in Osaka until May, he told me that there are a lot of cherry trees around Osaka castle and that it’s very beautiful. When I told him that I preferred the plum blossoms, he told me that the smell of plum blossoms was extravagant. I have to agree.

The pseudo-intellectual in me always thinks about Vincent van Gogh’s Flowering Plum Tree and Ando Hiroshige’s Kameido Ume Garden whenever I see the plum trees. Or, maybe it’s really the pseudo-alcoholic who thinks of 梅酒 (ume-shuu—plum alcohol)?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful, AG!!

6:34 PM  

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