Ume – Plum blossoms

Plum blossoms, especially white plums, have been popular among Japanese people since ancient times.
The blossoms bloom the the earliest of the spring flowers and are used as a season word for spring in haiku (Japanese seventeen-syllable poem).
Compared to other popular cherry sakura, ume is quiet, but its faint scent is fragrant.
It begins gradually from the beginning of February.

The plum flower motif is often used to design kimono, obi, family crests, and other Japanese accessories.
Five petals are characteristic.

ume blossomes
ume blossomes

Ume blossoms are often represented by five round circles.

ume blossoms and Hana Karakusa motif (flower arabesque pattern)
ume blossoms and Hana Karakusa motif (flower arabesque pattern)
ume blossoms and branches
ume blossoms and branches

Starting with Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), poems on plum trees have been composed in various scenes since ancient times.
In Manyoshu, there is a poem that is the origin of the current Japanese era “Reiwa”.
“Rei” means “good”.
“Wa” means Japan as well as “peace” and “harmony”.
So, “Reiwa” was named with the meaning that a culture is born and brought up while people bring their hearts and minds together in a beautiful manner.

Manyoshu is the oldest existing wakashu (anthology of Japanese poetry) compiled in Japan from the late seventh century to the late eighth century.
It consists of 20 volumes and contains more than 4,500 poems composed by people of various ranks, from the Emperor and nobles to lower-ranking government officials, and was probably completed in or after 759 (The third year of the Tenpyohoji era).

white ume flower
red ume flower

Like many other plants, sakura has long been used as a family crest.

family crest maru ni ume
Maru ni Ume (Plum blossome in a circle)
Nejiri ume
Kaga Umebachi

Kaga Umebachi is the family crest of Maeda clan, the lord of Kaga Domain (Present Ishikawa Prefecture)