Odawara Ume (Japanese Plum) Festival
Dates: Saturday 3rd February – Sunday 4th March 2018
Times: 9:00 – 17:00
※shops&cafe open from 10-ish
Place: 15 minutes walk from JR Shimosoga Station (or take a bus from JR Shimosoga Station or JR Kozu Station)
This festival is one of the winter treasure. Still having crisp air in February, “ume” which is Japanese plum bloom beautifully. 35,000 ume trees in the area, most of them having white flower suitable for eating. Few red flower ume is beautiful as well, however their fruits have strong sour and bitter taste.
Ume is usually cooked as ume-boshi, pickled ume. You might have seen it inside bento box on the rice. To be honest, I didn’t like ume-boshi until I become adult (Ofcourse I couldn’t eat pickles in the hamburger too). Traditional ume-boshi contains around 20% salinity, 6 times higher than seawater. Recently there are 8% salinity ume-boshi or honey pickled one which made us easier to taste. If you have high blood pressure like my mom, please skip eating it. But if you are not, it is said to have effect for fatigue recovery, food poisoning prevention, hangover prevention and smooth blood circulation.
In Odawara, ume planting began 600 years ago. Ume fruits are used for food provisions for soldiers. During Edo Period (1603- 1868), planting had expanded. Ume-boshi was treasured for travellers going through Hakone Mountains as must-haves for preventing food poison for Bento and as health food.
Festival started 40 years ago attracting many tourists every year. Lovely white little flowers give you elegant scent. If the weather permits, you could see magnificent Mount Fuji on the back of ume trees.