Spring in Japan isn’t just about the cherry blossoms, and at Bunkyo’s Yushima Tenjin Shrine you can see one of the island nation’s other flower festivals, the ume matsuri, or plum festival. Plum trees blossom earlier and for longer than cherry blossoms, so if your trip’s timing is that tiny bit off and you’re missing the pink tide, you can still get your fill of gorgeous blooms from the plum trees. It’s also a short walk from Ueno Park, one of Tokyo’s biggest hanami venues.
The Bunkyo Ume Matsuri is one of Bunkyo’s five flower festivals, and like all good blossom bonanzas, it features nighttime illuminations and runs for nearly a month–from 7th February to 7th March. Yushima Tenjin has been a popular spot for blossom-viewing since the Edo era, and the festival includes demonstrations of shamisen-playing, traditional dance, tea, and other Japanese cultural events.