“Tokyo Review 046” Ueno area-9
Cherry Blossoms in Ueno
Needless to say, it is a famous Hanami (cherry blossoms viewing) spot featured on TV news every year during the season. This “Hanami in Ueno” has started in the Edo period.
It is said that Master Tenkai loved the cherry blossoms in Yoshino, located in Nara prefecture very much, and he had ordered the cherry trees all the way from Yoshino and planted them along with the construction of Kan’ei-ji Temple.
The origin of Hanami is not clear, but in a geographical booklet of historic sites in the latter part of the Edo period of Japan called ‘Meisho-zue’, which was published during the Tenpo period, the Hanami in Ueno was described. It seems not to be much different from the current Hanami. There is a theory that plum flower viewing in China was introduced to Japan around the Nara era and came to see cherry blossoms in Japan during the Heian era.
The cherry tree named “Somei-Yoshino” is the main type of tree for Hanami. It is becoming Japanese common sense that the origins of these trees are from several “Somei-Yoshino” trees and they had been grown by grafting. The reason they always bloom at once is because they are “clones”. Actually, the research result was announced by a team in Chiba University in 2010 that they had found an original tree in Ueno Park. This tree seems to be on the north side of the “Prince Komatsunomiya Statue” near the main gate of the Ueno Zoo. Considering these, we can agree to the opinion that Hanami’s best spot is Ueno Hill.
There are 1,250 cherry trees in Ueno park, and most of them were planted by local habitants during the confused times after the war when there was little food. They spared money and collect donations for the trees, expecting to be one of the symbols of revitalization.
We had been exploring Ueno. How was it? In a different atmosphere from Shibuya and Ginza, there are many facilities that convey Japanese culture, and many inbound tourists have been visiting Ueno recently. Why don’t you explore culture and rediscover something in Ueno?
(End of Ueno Series)