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On one of the very first jacket-free days of spring, 3 of us set out on a bittersweet adventure to Oume to visit the Yoshino Baigo plum festival and view the beautiful pink and white plum blossoms. Bittersweet because this would be our one and only chance, due to the plum pox virus all of the trees are scheduled to be cut down at the conclusion of the festival, March 31. After replanting and careful observation and nurturing, if all goes well, the next Plum Blossom Festival will be in 10 years.

I’ve read that this particular park is the #1 best spot to view plum blossoms in all of Japan. I must admit that it is hard to imagine any setting more beautiful than having 1500 pink and white-blooming trees strewn across the gentle curving hillsides of the park. Families, friends, couples young and old were enjoying the park, the trees, the sunshine and each other. Blankets, Bento box lunches, cameras, sake and beer were everywhere and all was peaceful and serene.

We stopped to admire one tree in particular and were greeted by a passing Japanese couple who offered to take our picture. Posing for the shot, the gentleman struck up a conversation and told us that he and his wife had lived in America for a short time when they were younger. He was a physician and had lived in both Ohio and Michigan, mentioning the University of Michigan in particular. As we talked, we discovered they had visited California and several other locations in the U.S. as well. By then we all felt like family and we then had to take more pictures, this time with each other.

I hope to be able to see plum blossoms again while I am in Japan, albeit probably not in as beautiful a location. But in the meantime, on to cherry blossom season, with more beauty and wonder ahead!