~Celebrating 150th year from Meiji Restoration~
When: February 17th (Sat.) – March 31st (Sat.)
Where: Kairakuen and the Kodokan, Mito
Access via Public Transport
Kairakuen: Take a bus heading to Kairakuen from Bus Stop 4 or 6 on the north side of Mito Station (see map here) http://www.koen.pref.ibaraki.jp/foreign_language/en/access_info/index.html
Kodokan: 8 minutes’ walk north of Mito Station (see map here) http://www.koen.pref.ibaraki.jp/park/kodokan06.html
Kodokan: Adults 200 yen, junior high school and younger 100 yen, over 70 free
Kobuntei: Adults 200 yen, junior high school and younger 100 yen, over 70 free
Kairakuen: 6am – 7pm (7am to 6pm until February 19th)
Kobuntei: 9am – 5pm (9am – 4:30pm until February 19th)
Kodokan: 9am – 5pm (9am – 4:30pm until February 19th)
The Plum Blossoms of Kairakuen
Mito’s famous Plum Blossoms Festival dates back to more than 120 years ago. The main venue Kairakuen is one of the Three Great Gardens in Japan along with Korakuen of Okayama, and Kenrokuen of Kanazawa. During the Edo period, in July of 1842, the 9th lord of the Mito-clan opened Kairakuen as a public park for the local people to enjoy.
There are approximately 100 varieties of the plum tree growing in Kairakuen, and they all bloom at different times. Early blooming varieties (hayazaki) begin around mid-January to mid-February, mid-season blooming varieties (nakazaki) around early February to mid-March, and late blooming varieties (osozaki) around early March to early April. These times can vary every year though, depending on the climate.
Of the 3000 plum trees in Kairakuen, only around half of them can be said to be of a particular variety (the other half being mixes of a number of varieties resulting in an unnamed variety). The most common among those with clear names is the Shirakaga variety, of which there are nearly 450 trees. The next most common is the Tōjibai, with 150 trees, followed by Yaekankō, with 130 trees.
Although the trees bloom roughly as described above, they are greatly affected by weather and precipitation, so it is not an exact timeline. This is why you should visit Kairakuen several times to stroll around the park and appreciate the many forms of the plum blossoms.
Early Blooming Varieties (Mid-January to Mid-February)
The Yaekankō, Shironaniwa, Yaetōji, and Rekkōbai varieties are representative of the early blooming plum tree varieties and can be found scattered around Kairakuen. In particular, the Yaekankō in the East-West Plum Forest near the East Gate and the Shironaniwa by the Onari Gate are well known and among the first to bloom. Searching for the few flowers that have blossomed among the majority that are still in their bud forms is one of the most enjoyable things to do during the early blooming season.
Mid-season Blooming Varieties (Early February to Mid-March)
The single-petaled Tsukikage with its distinctive silhouette and the soft and fluffy Tora-no-o are exemplary of the mid-season blooming varieties. They can be found scattered around the park in the Western Plum Forest and other locations, and are known for their fragrance and colour. It is when the mid-season varieties are in bloom that you can fully feel the coming of spring and enjoy the grand sight of many plum trees in full bloom.
Late Blooming Varieties (Early March to Early April)
The Shirakaga, Kasugano, and Kōnanshomu varieties are representative of late-blooming plum trees. In particular, Shirakaga trees can be seen all around the park. They bloom slowly and decorate the end of the plum blossom season. The end of the season is when you should savour the last of the blossoms before they are gone.
4th Annual National Umeshu (Plum wine) Festival in Mito
When: March 2nd – 4th, 10am – 4pm (until 3pm on March 4th)
Admission: Early-bird 700, Standard 800, Fast-pass 1200
Where: Tokiwa Shrine area (Connected to the Kairakuen)
At the National Umeshu Festival, you will have the opportunity to sample and compare various kinds of umeshu from all over Japan. You can also enjoy the coupling of umeshu with a variety of dishes and umeshu cocktails.
Night Plum Festival
Kodokan – Saturday, March 3rd, 6 – 9pm
Kairakuen – Saturday, March 10th, 6 – 9pm
The Night Plum Festival will feature candle displays, showing off the beauty of the plum trees in a different light. The festival finale will feature Mito fireworks.
Hanamaru Yūinroku ~Plum Flowers Dancing in Mito Base~
When: February 17th – March 25th
Where: Tokugawa Museum
Collaboration event with the Anime “Zoku Toukenranbu –Hanamaru-”
Kimono Dressing with Plum Blossom Viewing
When: March 4th 10:00 – 4:00
Where: Kairakuen Miharashi Square
You can experience a dressing up in Kimono while taking a pleasant walk in the park. Rental of Kimono is available on the day. A photo contest and a workshop where you can try on Yūkitsumugi will take place at the same time.
Plum Blossom Viewing Day
When: Every Sunday from Feb. 18th – March 25th
Where: Kairakuen Miharashi Square
Every Sunday is a Plum Viewing Day, there will be tea ceremonies, and performances around the area of Miharashi Square.
Goken Kōbai Hina-nagashi (Five Town Community)
When: March 3rd, 11am – 12pm
Where: Kairakuen, under the Togyokusen Spring
Biwa (Japanese Flute) Performance
When: March 3rd, 11:30 am– 12pm
Where: Kodokan Seicho
Kairakuen Trail of Light
When: March 2nd – 21st from sunset to 9:00pm
The open hours of Kairakuen will be extended, you can enjoy a dreamy walk as the plum blossoms are lit up in the dark.
Ikebana Exhibition in Kobuntei
When: Feb 24th, 25th (Traditional Style of Kinjo)
March 3rd, 4th (Style of Kageiadachi)
March 17th, 18th (Style of Ikenobo)
Where: Inside Kobuntei, Oza Room, Plum-Flower Room and Rakujuro
Tour Shuttle Bus “Man-yu Bus”
When: Feb 24th, 25th, March 3rd, 4th
Route: Sukesan (White)
Kairakuen Parking lot (in front of JR Kairakuen Station)→ Keisei Department Store → Kodokan→ Mito Art Tower → Ibaraki Prefectural Museum of History → Tokugawa Museum → Kairakuen Parking lot
Kairakuen Parking lot (in front of JR Kairakuen Station) → The Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki → Mito Botanical Park → Tokugawa Museum → Kairakuen Parking lot
|Station||1st Bus||2nd Bus||3rd Bus||4th Bus||5th Bus||6th Bus|
|Keisei Department Store||9:10||10:40||12:10||13:40||15:10||16:40|
|Mito Art Tower||9:30||11:00||12:30||14:00||15:30||17:00|
|Museum of History||9:40||11:10||12:40||14:10||15:40||17:10|
|Station||1st Bus||2nd Bus||3rd Bus||4th Bus||5th Bus|
|Museum of Modern Art||10:20||12:00||13:40||15:20||17:00|
|Mito Botanical Park||10:40||12:20||14:00||15:40||17:20|
*Schedule times are subject to change and are subject to traffic.