The First Ume of 2023

Since moving to Katsushika (one of Tokyo’s northern wards) last September, I’ve spent a lot of time walking by the river in Mizumoto Koen (Park), not far from my new home.

The park is particularly lovely on sunny days, when flocks of ducks swim in the Edogawa (Edo River), and sometimes kids fly kites — you can see one in the picture below, on the far side of the river – which is technically in neighboring Chiba Prefecture.

Ducks and kites

This afternoon, while walking in the park, I noticed a pair of ume (plum) trees beginning to bloom – a traditional harbinger of spring’s impending return. They’re a little early this year; usually, they bloom from the end of January through early February here in Tokyo.

The first ume of 2023

I love the bright pink blossoms (which are sometimes mistaken for early cherry blossoms by visitors), especially against the clear, deep blue of a winter sky.

Spring hasn’t come to Japan just yet – we still have several more weeks of winter, and likely some snow still to come in Tokyo, too – but it’s lovely to watch the seasons change, and to anticipate the warmth to come.