I went see the plum blossoms!
Hidden. Mysterious. Beautiful. These are just a couple of words I would use to describe the plum blossoms at Hanegi Park.
Originally, the plum blossoms trees were brought over by a Chinese man. While cherry blossom season is better known in Japan, the plum blossoms are really the first sign of winter ending.
And Umegaoka which has plum in its name (ume) has a fairly well known plum festival that you can attend between the first week of February to the second week of March.
In addition, Hanegi Park which is in Umegaoka is a fairly old park dating back hundreds of years with over 600 different plum trees. I mean, talk about a fairytale place.
Plum blossom festivals usually focus on the three things that these flowers symbolize.
As a result, festivals around this time are focused on these things. And many fortunes and charms bought will focus on these ideas.
This is a small park off of Umegaoka- a station on the Odakyuu Line. It can only be accessed by a local train.
So beware the express! I repeat. DO NOT TAKE THE EXPRESS.
There are too common stations that you can access to get to the Odakyuu Line. You can go through Shinjuku Station, where you are guaranteed a seat to sit down. This is because all trains going down the line originate from Shinjuku.
Or you might want to pop over to Shimo-Kitazawa station. There you are able to switch between the Keio Line and the Odakyuu Line effortlessly. While you’re there, Shimo-Kitazawa is a thrift paradise and also home to a very famous English comedy club called Good Heavens.
Once you’ve arrived at the station. You’re going to exit out and turn left. This means you’ll walk past the Forestry Cafe and a family mart. If you walk straight down the road for about 2 minutes, the park is right there. It is open 24 hours.
This year in 2020, the plum blossom season has arrived. We’re a bit early this year, but traditionally the plum blossoms bloom in early February reaching their peak at the end the February or beginning of March.
Since the Cherry Blossom Forecast has moved up. It’s not shocking that the plum blossoms are moving a bit faster than normal. I was here February 23, 2020, and everything is already in almost full bloom.
Remember to bring a jacket though. While the plum blossoms mark the beginning of spring, the weather is still a bit chilly.
Hanegi Park is totally free. You just have to get to it. And for being free, it’s incredibly big and well-landscaped. I suppose that’s where my local taxes go.
The Plum Blossoms
The plum blossoms were incredible. There are windy paths that make you feel like you’re in a fairy forest. And I really loved the stones set into the path. I’m a bit childish, so I enjoyed hopping form stone to stone.
There’s also a lot of places where you can look down on a bunch of plum blossoms. This made me feel like I was surrounded by a forest despite knowing that there were apartments right outside the park.
And you can actually check out the different plum blossom tree’s names on tags at the entrance to the plum blossom garden.
Don’t forget to stop and smell the plum blossoms. Some of them smell like honey suckle and others smell closer to cherry blossoms. Regardless, it’s a nice break from the city air.
You should go to Hanegi Park. But here are some recommendations to make the experience even better.
- Around noon is the best time to go. The park is still a bit cold, so if you come during sunset, it might be beautiful but also cold.
- You should grab a small coffee or treat from the Family Mart on the way to the park. There are a ton of benches and picnic places that you can stop at and take in the view.
- You should bring a jacket. It’s a bit chilly still in Tokyo.
- I think it’s fine to take pictures. But remember at some point to put the camera away and just enjoy the view.
- Prepare to take at least an hour in the park. There are a lot of walkways, and you can have a good time exploring the different areas.
- There’s a lot of nice local shops to eat. In particular, there is very popular sushi shop in the area.
- I really recommend you go to Forestry Cafe and Bar. It was reasonably priced considering how close to the station it is. And there are power outlets on the inside if you need to charge a phone or computer. I had a great time with my partner there.
- If you during the festival, there will be haiku readings, free green tea, and delicious plum snacks.