When I was researching things to do in Kyoto in February, I came across Japanese plum blossoms (ume). To be honest, I’m a huge fan of Japan’s blossoms however I had never heard of plum blossoms or blossoms in February for that matter!
I was pleasantly surprised and impressed at the idea – here’s a way to see blossoms in Japan without having to fight through the crowds during cherry blossom season – though that in itself is the ultimate #bucketlist thing to do in Japan and one I can’t wait to experience one day myself.
If you’re visiting Kyoto in February (or even early-mid March), you might just get lucky and catch the plum blossom! The best place to view plum blossoms in Kyoto city is at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. Whilst this shrine is often quieter than others during the year, during plum blossom season it’s absolutely bustling and in fact – one of the busiest spots to visit in Kyoto.
And that’s with good reason. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine has a beautiful plum blossom grove of more than 2000 plum trees, making it one of the best places to view these blooms in the inner city area.
We celebrated plum blossoms by dressing all fancy in kimonos! Our kimono rental place was Yumeyakata Oike – they have an amazing selection of kimonos designed in-house and also do stunning hair-dos as well! The first kimono I laid my eyes on was this stunning green and pink one and I absolutely fell in love! After picking out matching obi belts / sashes and what not, we headed upstairs to get dressed. If you haven’t worn a kimono before, I warn you – they can be a little uncomfortable. Layers and layers upon fabric and extremely tight obi belts make it quite difficult to move in but totally worth the effort for such a fun experience.
With hairstyles, I chose a half up, half down style and also had fun little flower clips pinned in. The shoes at Yumeyakata were surprisingly comfortable to walk in, I was glad because other ones I’ve tried weren’t as comfy.
Before we headed out to Kitano Shrine, we participated in Yumeyakata’s tea ceremony experience where we learnt the art of preparing, serving and drinking matcha in the traditional way, with their in house teacher.
After the tea ceremony, we had a studio shoot with one of Yumeyakata’s photographers, Allen Yang. It was so much fun and the staff here are bilingual – some speak english, some speak mandarin, making it a really accessible place for tourists.
Here are a few pics from the kimono shoot in the Yumeyakata store – they had a stunning outdoor garden area!
After the shoot we headed to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. It was absolutely crowded but now and then, I was lucky enough to find little pathways with no one in sight.
Plum blossoms in Japan are easier to see than cherry blossoms as they stay blooming for a much longer time period compared to cherry blossoms. They’re smaller than their cherry blossom friends however emit a beautiful fragrant scent. Up close, they’re totally adorable and so fun to shoot!
I had an amazing time at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine visiting the plum blossom grove. If you ever visit Kyoto in February and wished you could catch some flowers – you totally can! Just check out the plum (ume) blossoms in Kitano Tenmangu Shrine ;)