Enjoy the Cherry Blossoms Even More! A Guide to Different Types of Cherry Blossoms in Japan
The Japanese springs are famous for their cherry blossoms—but did you know there are actually many different types of cherry trees? This time, we introduce seven famous varieties. We hope you will enjoy the cherry blossoms even more by understanding the charm of each type.
1. Somei Yoshino (Yoshino Cherry)
This is a type of cherry blossom that was developed during the Edo Period (1603 - 1867). It is the most common cherry blossom in Japan, accounting for about 80% of all blossoms around the country. The Somei Yoshino grown in Japan are all increased by cloning (by cuttings and grafting) so they blossom at the same time of the year in the same region. A distinguishing characteristic is that it has three to four flowers that form groups of blossoms. The flowers bloom before the leaves start to grow, so the blossoms are particularly beautiful.
Blossom time: Early April
2. Edo Higan
In Japan, the seven days with the spring equinox in the middle is called "higan" and the Edo Higan are cherry trees that blossom during this time of the year. It is a flower that is common in Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. It has inner stems and the flower is characterized by its cylindrical cup shape. The trees have a very long lifespan so there are many old and large ones across Japan. In particular, the 2,000-year-old Yamadaka Jindaizakura in Yamanashi Prefecture and 1,500-year-old Neodani Usuzumizakura in Gifu Prefecture are famous natural monuments of the country that are counted among Japan's three major cherry blossoms.
Blossom time: Mid-March
3. Shidarezakura (Weeping Cherry)
This is the general term for cherry blossoms with branches that hang from its own weight. Many of them are varieties of Edo Higan and are characterized by the wide range of colors and sizes of the blossoms. The most famous one is the Miharu Takizakura, which is one of Japan's three major cherry blossom trees. It is a massive Edo Higan shidarezakura in Fukushima Prefecture that is 13.5m in height, has a root circumference of 11.3m, and is more than 1,000 years old. It is designated as a natural monument of the country. There are many more famous shidarezakura, such as the Gion Shidarezakura in Kyoto.
Blossom time: Late March
4. Yamazakura (hill cherry)
This is a variety of cherry trees found primarily in western Japan, and they are characterized by the white bands on the back of the leaves of mature trees. The trees can grow as high as 30m. Before the Yoshino Cherries were introduced, the Yamazakura was the main type of tree for cherry blossom viewing. The Yoshino area of Nara Prefecture, which has close connections with mountain religions, has carefully protected its yamazakura over the ages. The sight of as many as 30,000 yamazakura blooming in this area is magnificent.
Bloom time: Mid-April
5. Oyamazakura (Sargent's Cherry)
This is a type of cherry tree with flowers and leaves that are bigger than on yamazakura and have an oval tree shape. It is cold-resistant and grows in Hokkaido, northern Japan and Shikoku. Most of the cherry blossoms in Hokkaido are oyamazakura. The mass of oyamazakura around Lake Nakazuna in Nagano Prefecture is famous and the area is a fantastic place to take photographs of the deep pink blossoms reflected on the lake. Nishizao Pasture in Yamagata Prefecture is also famous for this variety of cherry blossoms.
Blossom time: Early April
This is the general term for cherry blossoms that blossom as "yae" (with multiple layers of petals), with 10 to 130 petals on each flower. Yaezakura tend to blossom later than other types of cherry blossoms. The Naranoyaezakura, a variety grown in the Chisokuin temple and around the city of Nara, is particularly famous. It has dark pink buds that blossom into light pink flowers with about 30 petals each.
Blossom time: Mid-April - early May
This is a variety with beautiful peach color blossoms that was discovered in Kawazu-cho on the Izu Peninsula. It is known for its long blossom season. Many cherry trees of this variety are planted along the river in Kawazu-cho, and blossom for over a month from late February thanks to the mild climate. The town has a Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival during this time and is crowded with visitors there to see the blossoms.
Blossom time: Early March
How was it? The varieties introduced this time are the most famous of the more than 100 types of cherry trees. When viewing the cherry blossoms in Japan, take your time to consider which type they are.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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