Ikimasho!

Plum Season in Kanagawa 2016

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34,998… 34,999 … 35,000 plum blossom trees in bloom at Soga Bessho Bairin.

Last Saturday I woke up early and by 8.30am was already heading west out of Tokyo towards Shimosoga – a station in northeast Odawara, Kanagawa prefecture. I was on my way to get lost in Soga Bessho Bairin, a grove of 35,000 plum trees in the inaka, Japan’s countryside. There was a small festival being held to celebrate the plum bossoms.

After about an hour on the Odakyu line the scenery began to change, with built-up areas quickly being replaced by smaller neighbourhoods and mountains in the distance. I changed trains at Shin-Matsuda and hopped on the Gotemba line. Finally, a few hours after leaving my house, I arrived at Shimosoga.


Arrival at Shimosoga, Kanagawa

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The sleepy Gotemba Line has just one track. Trains are infrequent, generally one per hour, and many of the stations are mere platforms. (IC cards aren’t accepted; you have to buy a physical ticket.) It’s a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Central Tokyo’s train network.

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This was the scene that greeted me at Shimosoga station. Totally quiet, despite there being a festival on. It was so nice to see… virtually no one.

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The ‘Main’ Street leading away from the station.

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I keep being drawn to images like this…

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And this.


 


 

Walking to Soga Bessho Bairin

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Leaving the empty main street behind I started walking down the even emptier side streets. Now and again a local would smile at me curiously. I spotted this vegetable shop by the side of the road, but with no one manning the stall. You are simply trusted to put the money in a box.

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This big bag of organic carrots cost 50yen. That’s 30p. People who live in Tokyo will understand how cheap that is. (I bought some on my way back!)

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Kanagawa countryside.

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Inaka.


 

The plum blossoms of the Bairin

Basically throughout this whole area there are 35,000 plum trees in bloom. There are so, so many different types: red, white, weeping… Some are in full bloom while others are still buds. The grove is almost 600 years old and just feels like Japan.

[ click to scroll ]


 

Odawara Plum Festival

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Walking in silence through the grove I could hear some traditional music in the distance. As I got closer I saw it was from this stall selling green tea. The little lady offered me some and told me to sit down. It was delicious and I bought some to bring back to Tokyo with me.

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I also met this amazing little guy.❤

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These ladies were selling daikon, a winter radish as well as oranges.

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I was hungry so I went into the only restaurant in the grove.

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Loved its interior.

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The udon was so-so, but hey, food is food.

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Others chose to eat outside, picnicking under the plum blossoms.

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Another dog!

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Couldn’t resist a photo with him…

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After a few hours I made my way back to the station. I passed this house on the way, the falling petals from the huge plum tree turning the driveway into a carpet of pink.


Video

Here’s a short video to give you a feel of how quiet these inaka stations are, and how quaint their local festivals can be. Look out for the dog being wheeled in a pram at the end.🙂

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3 comments

  1. Thanks dude! Yes it’s nearly here – though from the rain and cold today in Tokyo you wouldn’t think it! Weather keeps changing😦

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