Cherry blossom (Sakura) is one of symbolic flowers in Japan as you know, plum blossom (Ume) is also other symbol of early spring. They usually bloom between the late February and the first part of March, but a timing of bloom this year is behind because this winter was colder than usual overall.
Ome city is used to be a plum blossom kingdom
I went on a hiking with my friends to Ome city to enjoy seeing some plum blossoms of late bloom on the other day. Ome city is a suburb in Tokyo and 40 km away from the city center. It takes you about 90 minutes by JR train from Tokyo Station. The city is very famous for having tons of plum trees there and its Chinese character of the city’s name means “Green Plum”.
While we were walking along path in the city, I noticed that most of plum trees we saw were very young, low, and less flowers than I expected. I had a bit strange feeling with this situation, because I remembered to see an advertising with tremendous plum trees in full-bloom a few years ago. And a lady who are working for a local museum gave us an answer why most of the trees are so young and small.
The plum trees in the city was hit by an unprecedented tragedy
In 2014, it was confirmed that most of plum tress in the city were infected by serious virus that would kill all plum trees. Ome city locates just next to Yamanashi prefecture where are famous for fruit agriculture such as peaches and grapes. Once the virus expand there, it will give a great negative impact on our agricultural economy, so that the Japanese government decided to cut off most of the trees in the city in order to stop spreading the virus infection anymore.
Especially, it made local people very disappointed that all trees in “Yoshino-Baigo”, the most famous park around the area with more than 1,200 plum trees, were subject to cutting down. (I guess the advertising which I saw was the scenery of the park in full-bloomed.) A few years passed since the huge logging, the city has started the project of re-plant trees in 2016. The city and local people are trying to work harder in order to make revive tons of plum trees by 2020 and their challenging is now on the way. Although it must be a long path to recover the former great scenery, I really hope to see the great landscape covered by full of flowers in the near future…
By the way, the date we visited to Ome was March 11th, a memorial day of East Japan great earthquake disaster. It has passed 7 years since then, but the rebuilt from the disaster is not still enough, in particular in Tohoku regions such as Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima and so on. I strongly hope that tourism & inbound business in Japan will also support to reconstruction of these areas, even partly.
- Ome City Tourist Information: http://www.omekanko.gr.jp/us/us.php