You've seen cherry blossoms, now see the peach in Yamanashi

You've seen cherry blossoms, now see the peach in Yamanashi

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

“Hanami,” or blossom viewing, is most often associated with cherry trees, but there are other notable blossoms in Japan such as peach trees. In April, hundreds of thousands of peach trees come into full bloom around the Kanto Plain.

There is perhaps no better – or famous – place to view peach blossoms, however, than in Fuefuki City, Yamanashi Prefecture. The city boasts its annual Peach Blossom Festival, which this year runs March 26 to April 23.

“It is really marvelous to see the city fully carpeted with the pink and reddish blossoms of 300,000 peach trees,” said a spokesman of Fuefuki’s Tourism, Commerce and Industry Division. He added that Fuefuki is only an hour and half drive from Tokyo, and the scenery is well worth the drive.

“The city is mountainous and has a vertical drop,” said Yuri Kanai, a Yamanashi Prefecture native. “As peach blossoms gradually bloom from the bottom up, day after day, you can always see blossoms in full bloom somewhere throughout the season. That makes Yamanashi a good place for viewing peach blossoms.”

That’s one reason why Fuefuki City has hosted the annual Peach Blossom Festival to share its unique spring foliage with tourists for the past eight years. More than 200,000 people participate annually in the festival, which includes stage performances, event booths, traditional tea ceremonies and nighttime hanami parties. There is also a designated walking course.

The highlight of the festival is when a reenactment of historical battle of “Kawanakaji-no-Kassen” is offered on April 16. Participants in arms and armors portray the famous battle of two strongest feudal lords Shingen Takeda and Kenshin Uesugi faithful to the historical evidence.   

Peach blossoms can also be enjoyed at the Shakado Parking Area, which is located near Ichinomiya-Misaka Interchange of Chuo Expressway. Exit your car from the parking area and walk up to the Shakado Museum of Jomon Culture for a panoramic view of the blossoms against a backdrop of the snowcapped southern Japan Alps.

Peach trees have large, brilliant blossoms and give off a sweet aroma. As the blossom is compared to women’s virtue in Japan, it is believed to ward off evil, Japanese never forget to arrange a sprig from a peach tree on a set of “hina” dolls to celebrate traditional Hina-Matsuri (Doll Festival) on March 3 every year.  

“The aroma of peach blossoms is much stronger and more impressive than that of cherry blossoms, and sweeter than that of plum,” Kanai said.  “Since the trees are shorter than cherry blossom trees, you can see and enjoy the blossoms more closely. In Yamanashi, Hina-Matsuri is celebrated a month later, according to lunar calendar, so we can really enjoy the blossoms in full bloom at the festival.”

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