Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Am In The Pink

Tsukigase Bairin (月ケ瀬梅林、Japanese apricot or Ume forest) in Nara is now in full bloom.

Nabari River ( around here it’s called Satsuki  River) formed V-shaped valley. With the construction of the dam, mountain streams were buried underwater, still the river and Ume trees  sloping down to it  make a scenic view!

This Bairin has a long history and was designated as one of the Scenic Beauty Spots in 1922.

In the time of prime in Edo Period (1603-1867), there were supposed to be 100,000 ume trees there for producing smoked ume called Ubai (鳥梅), which were used as dyes.


However, with the synthetic dyes becoming available, demand of ubai dropped sharply. The village shifted its production from ubai to edible ume. Currently only one house has held that tradition.

                      ume trees lining along the river

The fountain in the river shoots high at a certain time. I hear it is illuminated at night during ume festival.

I have visited it several times before but I have never been lucky enough to see such a full bloom like this. When I opened the door of our car, the air filled with sweet scent of blossoms came into it.

I knew about plum pox virus from Rurousha’s blog; it has spread to 10 prefectures nationwide with some famous ume blossom spots and the only way to manage the disease is to destroy all infected trees. I am worried about the spots here but so far no virus has been reported.


Sho seemed to be curious and enjoying the touch of the field  for the first time.

It is expected to be warmer this week. The cherry-blossom front is starting to go up from southern part of this country. I am "in the pink" for the time being.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I like March. It’s not February anymore and not April yet. The temperature is still unstable; some day is spring-like warm and some day winter-like cold. However, I think there is something exciting and hopeful about March. I was born in March.

Last week in February, my husband invited me to go for a drive to Shirahama in Wakayama, a three-hour-drive from my house.
Spring comes earlier there and the paper said “ume”; the Japanese apricot, trees were in full bloom at Minabe apricot trees farm field (南部梅林)
First I wanted to see the ocean at this Senjyōjiki(千畳敷;1000-mat-spreadingIt is a widely spreading sandstone formation sloping into the Pacific Ocean. It has been formed by erosion taking place through surging ocean since time immemorial.



  It looks like  huge remains.


Sandstones are soft enough to make it easy to carve so there are lots of scribbles on it by thoughtless visitors (not visible in this picture, though).

Merciless and destructive sometimes, still so powerful and merciful and benevolent the ocean is.

Then we headed for ume viewing. I  had noticed many ume trees flowering here and there on entering Wakayama. Seen from afar, it looked like translucent veils were hanging all over, but taken a closer look they were lovely snow-white.

as busy as a bee!

They have been cultivated for a harvest, whose origin dates back to Meiji Era (1868-1912). Wakayama now produces 60% of gross ume production in Japan, whose products are  famous for  their top quality called Nankou-ume (南高梅). 

The fruit is mainly made into “Umeboshi”; pickled ume,
and used as a preserved food.
I like umeboshi low in salt, it's healthy and tasty. A rice ball with it buried inside is very simple but helpful especialy in such a case of emergency.




weeping ume tree planted on the sidewalk

Coming March 11th marks the third anniversary since the great East Japan Earthquake. We tend to be off guard for a disaster with the passage of time. Many people in the heavily stricken region in Fukushima are still struggling. March is also the time to remember and share the feeling and brace myself again.

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