posted on April 21, 2014

Japanese springs start with Japanese plums flowering from late February through March, and reach the peak with cherry blossoms blooming in full from March through mid April. In this season, there are various kinds of spring flowers blooming together with or after cherry blossoms, which makes Japanese springs much more beautiful, colorful and attractive. In addition, fresh leaves, which paint mountains many types of green like light-green, dark-green, and emerald green, make Japanese spring vivid and full of life.

I’ve found such enchanting scenes of Japanese spring in my neighborhood. Please enjoy Japanese spring and spring flowers!

 

Somei-yoshino is the most popular variety of Sakura (cherry blossom) in Japan. Somei-yoshino cherry blossoms have 5 pale-pink petals, and bloom from late March through early April. They fall within a week after blooming, and the leaves come out after the flowers fall. Because we can’t grow cherry trees from the seeds, we grow them by grafting. Somei-yoshino is easily grafted and starts to have flowers when it is young, so it has been planted throughout Japan.

Somei-yoshino

Somei-yoshino tunnel

 

Somei-yoshino

Somei-yoshino

 

Cherry blossoms called Yae-zakura have more than 6 flower petals and generally bloom later than Somei-yoshino. Yae-zakura literally means Sakura with eight-layered flowers. Ukon, whose flower petals are yellow, and Gyoiko, whose petals are greenish yellow, are very rare varieties, and are rare to be seen. If you go to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, which has about 65 varieties and 1,300 cherry trees, you can enjoy both of them and also many varieties of cherry blossoms.

Yae-zakura

Yae-zakura

Yae-zakura

Yae-zakura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gyoikou

Gyoikou

Ukon

Ukon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yuki-yanagi

Yukiyanagi

Yuki-yanagi  literally means “snow willow”—-yuki means snow and yanagi means a willow tree.

It has weeping branches like willow trees, and many small white flowers bloom along the branches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tsubaki

Tsubaki

Tsubaki (camellia) blooms from late winter through spring. In Japan, camellias are often planted around a house as a hedge. Its brightly-clored flowers light up the scenery in early spring when there are few flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shiba-zakura literally means “cherry blossom lawn”—shiba means a lawn and zakura is the same as sakura. It has cherry-blossom-like small flowers, but it doesn’t grow upward like a tree. It grows creeping on the ground and covers the ground like a flower carpet.

シバザクラ

Shiba-zakura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yamabuki

Yamabuki

Yamabuki is a shrub with soft branches and bright yellow flowers. The wild species have simple five-petaled flowers, but cultivated ones have layered flowers. Because of the beauty of its flowers’ color, Yamabuki is used as the season word for spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanamizuki (dogwood in America) first came to Japan in 1912 as an acknowledgment for the cherry blossoms which Governor of Tokyo had given to Washington D.C. as a sign of friendship. Its distinctively-shaped cute flowers gained popularity among Japanese people, and today avenues lined with beautifully blooming Hanamizuki are one of the familiar scenes of spring in Tokyo.

 

Hanamizuki (white)

Hanamizuki (white)

Hanamizuki (red)

Hanamizuki (red)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanamizuki avenue

Hanamizuki avenue

 

 

Tsutsuji bloom from April through early May. Its funnel-shaped flowers are characteristic of Tsutsuji. When it is in full bloom, Tsutsuji festivals are held across Japan. People feast their eyes on the various colors of beautiful Tsutsuji flowers.

Tsutsuji (cherry pink)

Tsutsuji (cherry pink)

Tsutsuji (red)

Tsutsuji (red)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

つつじ

Tsutsuji hedges

 

Doudan-tsutsuji

Doudan-tsutsuji

Doudan-tsutsuji has small bell-shaped white flowers. Its beautiful bright red leaves in autumn are a great delight to our eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shakunage

Shakunage

Shakunage belongs to the same family as Tsutsuji in biological classification, but the flowers are much bigger and splashier than those of Tsutsuji.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shakuyaku has been historically used to describe beautiful women in Japan due to the beauty of the flowers. In Japan, the general types have single flowers, but because of the cultivar improvement , some have double flowers. In addition, the very rare type called “Japanese type” have uniquely-shaped flowers. This type’s stamens grow big in the center and look like petals, which makes the flowers look much more gorgeous and beautiful.

single-flowered Shakuyaku

single-flowered Shakuyaku

Japanese-type Shakuyaku

Japanese-type Shakuyaku

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh green leaves come out after the cherry blossom season is over, and dye mountains, hills, forests, and parks spring green. In Japan, this time of the year has been called “the season of Moegi,” which means the season when new leaves emerge, and new life in nature brightens up the world. The beauty of various kinds of green with a subtle difference is beyond description and overwhelms us human beings!

 

Avenue of cherry blossoms with fresh leaves

Avenue of cherry blossoms with fresh leaves

 

Pond surrounded by fresh green leaves

Pond surrounded by fresh green leaves

 

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