Some of the first blossoms to open during the year, plums are the rightful heralds of spring both in Walla Walla and in Japan. And they smell wonderful. Not quite jasmine or gardenia, but right up there. I am a sucker for the white flower fragrance spectrum.
Plums typically flower in February and March in Tokyo. The event is celebrated with plum festivals (ume matsuri) in public parks and shrines across the country.
The plum tree in my backyard, well technically behind my garage in the alley, has managed to keep its bounty of petals despite the gale force winds we seem to be getting. The tree had plenty of petals to go around and also has a small twin on the other side of the garage that is flowering as well, so I didn't feel at all bad about the few I snipped off to liven up the living room.
That'll mean fewer plums to pick up off the ground later.
The plum blossom is a recurring image in Japanese art.
I can see why. At The Japan Print Gallery in Notting Hill, one can purchase original woodblock prints by such artists as Hiroshige, if you've got the cash. Someone bought "The Plum Gardens at Kameido" for 9800 pounds; it measures 14.5 x 9 inches. I would love to have a reproduction poster of it, framed in matte black, for my dining room. The colors would be a great fit; I only wish it had more plum blossoms.
At the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art I located this neat water jar for tea ceremonies.