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Cherry Blossoms 2007
Meiboku : Time-Honored Trees

Some of the sakura varieties live for centuries without withering so badly that it cannot put on blossoms anymore. Many of the Edohigan and Yamazakura are the representative ones, seeing the flow of the history for many a year. Over the years these trees, like human beings, gradually take on a dignified presence and taste the young trees can never express, and these trees become time-honored trees that people treasure and feel fond of at the same time.

Here are only a handful of those trees. Viewing them gives you a different kind of feelings from viewing the thick cloud of the young pink at popular hanami spots.
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The Someiyoshino at Somei Cemetary (Somei-reien) | Tokyo Prefecture
Although this is the smallest government owned cemetery, it is worth paying a visit considering the fact that this is the origin of the most popular and widespread kind of cherry tree Someiyoshino. The true story of the origin of Someiyoshino is yet to be unveiled, but it is a mixed kind of Edohigan and Oshimazakura. It can be easily bred and grows very fast. Moreover, the flowers blossom before the leaves come out and so it has a great appearance. Today Someiyoshino takes up 80% of the cherry trees in Japan and has become the synonym for cherry blossoms.
The Weeping Cherry Tree of Rikugien | Tokyo Prefecture
Rikugien is one of the Two Great Gardens representing Edo Period, which is a gorgeous Japanese garden with replicas of major spots of Japan appearing in many song and poems. The garden shows outstanding beauty all year round, with flowers in spring, fresh green in summer, colored leaves in autumn and snow in winter. The specialty of such garden is the weeping cherry trees standing in the inner garden just inside the main gate. At its peak, many people stop by to view the grand figure, or sit down to sketch the trees. Besides this specialty tree, you can enjoy different kinds of cherry trees anywhere in the garden.
Shokawazakura of Miboro | Gifu Prefecture
The two 450-year-old Shokawazakura cherry trees grow by the observatory on the shore of the artificial lake of Miboro Dam. They originally grew in the temple grounds of Shorenji and Korinji temples which sunk underneath the Miboro Dam. Shokawazakura is registered as prefectural natural monument, and unveils magnificent beauty in spring.
Usuzumizakura of Neodani | Gifu Prefecture
This Higanzakura in Neodani is called “usuzumizakura” (light gray cherry blossoms) for it gets covered in a light gray veil when the blossoms fall. It is the second oldest tree with 1,500 years of age following 1,800 of Jindaizakura, and is said to have been planted by Keitai Emperor. It almost died in early 20C but recovered by 238 splices at the base. However, it was again heavily damaged by a typhoon but again survived. For it went through many major crises the tree is also famous as the cherry tree of resurrection. The best time to view its blossoms is early to mid April when the tree draws a beautiful white pattern against the surrounding green.
The Takizakura of Miharu | Fukushima Prefecture
Miharu (three/spring) is said to be named after the fact that in spring plum, peach and cherry flowers blossom at once. On the top of the hill located about 4km away from the city center, surrounded by a mild relief of green stands the 1,000-year-old Benishidare (Ruby Weeping Cherry Tree). The tree is 12 meters tall, and the sight of a number of branches falling towards the ground is nothing but a magnificent fall of pink blossoms. The tree now registered as national natural monument is very popular that at the peak season of blossoming traffic jams occur in the nearby roads.
The Yamataka Jindaizakura | Yamanashi Prefecture
The oldest and thickest (trunk) cherry tree in Japan, which is told to have been planted by Yamatotakerunomikoto (a legendary hero in ancient Japan) and therefore has a referral name of “sacred cherry”. This Edohigan cherry tree located in the temple grounds of Jissoji, is estimated to be about 1,800 years old, is 24 meters tall and has a circumference of 13.5 meters at its foot. It is also the first national natural monument in Japan, and is one of the Three Grand Cherry Trees alongside of Usuzumizakura of Neodani (Gifu) and Takizakura of Miharu (Fukushima).
The Blood Vein Cherry Tree of Matsumae Town | Hokkaido Prefecture
The cherry trees of Matsumae Town were originally brought from all over Japan hundreds of years ago, by merchants, newly-wed wives and warriors. In Matsumae Park there are more than 250 kinds of different cherry blossom trees including Yaezakura, and at the peak of blossoming 800 trees wear gorgeous layers of cherry blossoms in bright colors. The most famous of all trees here is probably the “Kechimyaku” Blood Vein Cherry Tree of Kozenji Temple located inside the park. It has be told that when somebody tried to cut down the tree, the fairy of this Yaezakura tree appeared in the dream of a monk pleading not to cut the vein of the tree.
The Oitozakura of Shinden | Yamanashi Prefecture
This 400-year-old tree is a prefectural natural monument. It is 8 meters wide around its trunk at its foot and 6.4 meters above. Even though the branches are partially withered, the tree still continues to put on pretty flowers on the long, draping branches. There is a local saying that the year this tree gets covered with cherry blossoms will have good harvest, and for the past few years the tree has been having full blossoms. In the nearby Takekawa Village grows the 1,800-year-old sacred cherry tree which is said to be the oldest cherry in Japan, planted by Yamatotakerunomikoto.
Spirited Away (2001)
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  • Yasunari Kawabata
  • Banana Yoshimoto
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