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Well, warmer weather has begun in fits and starts, and though it remains cold, the blooming plums bring hope that spring is well and truly on its way!

Plums are one of the first signs of the upcoming warmer weather, with sakura signaling the true change in temperature. The plums have been really beautiful this year, and last weekend Kenji and I headed up to Annaka, to one of the largest Plum Forests in the area.

The afternoon started sunny, but by the time we left the skies had become cloudy, so I didn’t get the best pictures toward the end. Still, it was a really nice day!

We left around lunch time, grabbed some McDonalds (the new Manhattan Burger is pretty good!) and went first to Himaraya, a sports store, to check the bindings on my snowboard.

After that, we headed to the plums. About half the trees were blooming, with the other half just starting to show buds. Different types of plum trees have slightly different blooming times, and plums don’t really bloom full like the sakura do, so the effect is different. However plums have a wider range of colors than the sakura do, so the colors are really nice to look at!

A few booths here and there selling things

Some nice pink ones

And close ups!

Also a few white ones

Here is a picture looking down at some of the plums. Besides a few white blooms and the pink trees, it is still early for some of the types. Also, the trees look really brown don’t they? That is all POLLEN! Many people have terrible allergies here. Luckily, I seem to have grown out of mine…*knocks on wood*

Kenji trying to get a picture

The day starting to get cloudy. The jagged looking peaks behind the flowers is Mt. Myogi, which has spectacular fall colors.

Kenji. “What are you doing?” “Trying to kiss a bee!” “Why?!” “They’re cute!”

Anyway, those trees were pretty full

Bonsai for sale!

The different flower colors were really pronounced, from an almost red-pink, to pink, to white.

This tree was really nice… it looked like the palest pink from a distance, until you got up close and see it was really pink and white mixed.

Another nice full one

The we came upon this really weird…. thing. A drill, maybe? Anyway, we both tried to get artistic…

Well. Tried being the key word there.

Anyway, on the way out I picked up some omiyage, picked plum blossoms! Apparently they are used mostly for the smell and can be made into tea as well. I haven’t tried the tea yet, but they smell really good! And plum mochi, which was sweet but also a bit sour at the same time.

And just as omake (something extra), the different plums on my way to and from work every day:

I think these are the biggest plum trees I’ve seen in Japan… usually they’re pruned back and kept small.

This pink tree was really pretty after the rain! I wish my camera took better close up pictures, sorry these are so grainy.

Anyway, my plum pictures have hardly stopped now that flower season is underway, but I try to limit my enthusiasm and not end up with 49837583658971304 pictures of flowers taking up space on my hard drive!