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Somei-yoshino cherry tree blossoms coming out at Ueno Park (March 21)

Somei-yoshino cherry tree blossoms coming out at Ueno Park (March 21)

I want to thank all of you for participating in our tour at Ueno Park on March 21.
Nine people kindly joined our tour from Spain, America and UK. It was a bit windy but a nice Spring weather. I hope all of you enjoyed walking with us.

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As a matter of fact Ueno Park is one of the most famous and popular hanami(cherry blossom viewing) spot in Tokyo. Over 1,200 cherry trees are planted with 50 varieties. Although we have witnessed some other early blossoming of the trees, Somei-yoshino, the most planted and favorite species in Japan have just started to bloom. 550 Someiyoshino trees may reach the blooming peak in a week or so depending upon the temperatures.

Since cherry blossoms signal the arrival of Spring, Japanese people traditionally admire them from the ancient times. Somei-yoshino is relatively new in the history. It was developed by the crossbreeding between Ohshima and Edo-higan cherry trees and cultivated by the gardener at Somei Village, currently Toshima, Tokyo in the late Edo period over 250 years ago. It is a clone from a single tree and propagated by grafting to all over Japan and the rest of the world. Therefore, each one has an identical gene and comes together on flowering and falling at once when the condition is met. Before the leaves come out, Somei-yoshino trees enter full bloom. Indeed, the entire tree looks dyed by the pink color of the blossoms. Pink color  gradually turns to white. Also, the petal is relatively large and gorgeous. The tree quickly grows and flowers in about five years earlier than other varieties. In addition, the tree is not too tall, and so they fit well with hanami party. During the season 1,200 lanterns hang from the trees and will be illuminated in the evening. Under the fully blossomed cherry trees people enjoy eating and drinking with family, friends and company colleagues. Since the peak blooming period is just a week or so,  people quickly enjoy the moment and welcome Spring day and night. The impatient people are already picnicking under the trees. Some people excuse themselves for drinking alcohol, though.

After the Meiji period Somei-yoshino became explosively popular and planted at the parks, schools and the bank of a river across the country. There are millions of Somei-yoshino trees in Japan. These are all linked to a single tree. According to the recent academic report one of the cherry trees at the central area of Ueno Park may be the original Somei-yoshino. If it is true, the tree is over 250 years old. I am anticipating the future research and discussion.

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Our tour at Ueno Park is irregularly held and the next tour is scheduled on April 29. We will be looking forward to seeing you then.

(Posted by Yoshi)