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Plum blossoms already

PPlum blossoms in Kamakura, Japan

Plum blossoms in Kamakura, Japan

Plum blossoms already started showing up here in Kamakura during the first week of the new year, an early but still welcome appearance in mid-winter. They are one of the ‘Three Friends of Winter‘, the first to flower; pine and bamboo, the other two, are always green. Mejiro birds have adjusted their schedules to pollinate the plum blossoms, ensuring a good harvest in June for plum wine. Conveniently, the fruit is inedible, so pests are not interested in it. This kind of plum, which originated in Central Asia, must be fermented or pickled, and is said to be very healthy when consumed. We’ve found it to be so. The plum tree is also known as the ‘tree of letters’, and its flowers are supposed to be especially abundant when a love of learning is widespread. Every February students come to Egara Tenjin, a temple whose approach is lined with many plum trees, to pray for success in exams. Their wishes, expressed in paper inscriptions tied nearby, are almost as abundant as the plum blossoms themselves.

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© Peter Miller 2019.