The smell of spring is in the air, and it seems like everyone is looking forward to the cherry blossoms and making plans for hanami…but what are the other flowers that blossom in the city?
Here are some flowers that make an appearance in Tokyo during the spring months:
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Rapeseed Blossoms (Nanohana)
Flowering members of the mustard family, rapeseed (canola) is widely grown for the production of vegetable oil, and the plants themselves are consumed in Japan as a spring vegetable. Though it is rare to see fields carpeted in bright yellow blossoms in the middle of the city, the 300,000 nanohana plants in Hama-rikyu Gardens (浜離宮) bloom in mid-March, against the background of Tokyo high-rise buildings.
After the cherry blossoms disappear, resilient azaleas begin to bloom throughout the city in bright pink, red, white, and purple. Nezu Shrine (根津神社) holds a month-long azalea festival (Tsutsuji Matsuri) from April 11 to May 6, during which visitors can enjoy a stroll through the shrine’s garden of 3,000 azaleas in around 50 varieties.
Nezu-jinja Shrine (Japanese only)
Flowering Dogwood (Hanamizuki)
In exchange for the cherry blossom trees that were gifted to Washington, D.C., a century ago, Tokyo received dogwood trees. Native to the Virginia area of the U.S., these trees have small flower clusters surrounded by four showy white or pink bracts, and can be seen blossoming in parks and lining streets around Tokyo in April and May. The original gifted tree is at Toritsu Engei High School in Setagaya, but offspring trees are planted in Hibiya Park and elsewhere.
Drooping bunches of lavender flowers begin blooming in late April. The subject of many ukiyo-e prints, the wisteria flowers at Kameido Tenjin Shrine have been blossoming since the Edo period, and can be viewed dangling from a trellis over a reflective pond. The Fuji Matsuri takes place from late April to early May.