March 3, 2013

Yushima Tenjin's Ume Festival

Yushima Tenjin again, this time for their annual ume (plum blossom) festival. The festival ends this week on the 8th, one month after its start.

Unfortunately, due to a fairly cold February, the ume were barely in bloom when I visited two weeks ago. The steep steps leading to the side entrance of the shrine boasts a large ume section, but hardly any color was to be seen.

Almost there...

It was a shame, because the shrine was packed with people who had come out to see the flowers. They had to make do by photographing themselves in front of the handful of small trees that were in bloom.

Many popular shrines take the time to update their official websites every day, noting the flowering of the blossoms. As of writing (March 3), the trees are approaching their prettiest state.

These ume trees were donated by the local elementary school 17 years ago.

Tea ceremony sessions, open to the public.

This shrine is popular among students who are taking entrance exams for school, or those entering the job market. They write their wishes on these wooden plaques, called ema. The IKEA visible on the right side of the photo said something like, "I hope I'm hired to work at IKEA Japan!"

The shadow of the branches on the tent makes the tree look larger than it is.

It was a very windy day, but these torii gates should not be in such a shambles.

The bonsai ume trees were invariably in bloom.

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