Cherry blossom won’t bloom until the end of March, or even the beginning of April if the weather is cold. However, there is an equally rewarding treat for flower lovers who can’t wait: plum blossom!

It is a popular activity but is not in the Japanese psyche in the way that cherry blossom viewing is. Viewing the plum blossom is more of an elegant affair.

You’ll need to wrap up warm but, in some ways, admiring the plum blossom can be much more rewarding than heading out into the cherry-blossom frenzy: it’s too cold for picnics, so you won’t have to worry about large groups of drunken office workers; it is before the start of the new school or university year so there are not class pictures being taken and, the phenomenon of the last two or three years, there are no foreign brides and grooms hogging the best spots for wedding photos with their photographer, hairdresser and assistants in tow!

Aside from the sparse crowds, the array of colours on display – pink, red, white and yellow – the best thing about the plum blossom for the Japanese is that the end of winter isn’t far away!