On the border of Nara and Mie is the unassuming village of Tsukigase. Though this little quiet village is fairly humdrum at first glance, the Tsukigase Plum Grove is widely known as the best place in the Kansai region to enjoy ume, or plum blossoms. Every spring thousands of people come to this town just to take the sight of the beautiful plum garden.
Tsukigase Plum Grove
Tsukigase is popular, but it is really hard to access and most visitors generally come by car. There are special busses available from several stations including Nara Station and the JR Kansai Line (get off at Tsukigase-guchi Station). While those busses are quite convenient, we walked to the garden from the JR Tsukigase-guchi Station. The road is quite straightforward and if you like walking, it’s about a 10km walk to the plum grove. If you drive to Tsukigase, you have to pay for parking but you don’t have to pay at all if you walk to the garden, as this grove is free of charge!
Note: make sure to check the bus schedule before you head out as buses can be really infrequent!
Once you arrive at Tsukigase, you will notice that the entire village smells like plums! The great part of plum blossoms is that, unlike sakura, they smell really pretty!
The garden is commonly called Tsukigase Plum Grove but the actual name is the Tsukigase Plum Ravine, as plum trees grow on the mountainside and near the river flowing at the bottom. This means you have to walk up the mountain to enter the garden. However, it is just a 10-15 minutes hike!
Tsukigase Plum Grove: Tenjin Plum Grove
Probably one of the prettiest areas is in the west of the grove, called the Tenjin Plum Grove. This section of the garden has scores of plum trees blooming in an open field. it is a nice place for people to sit and enjoy picnicking or to walk with their dogs.
I think I know why this grove is so popular; many plum groves near large cities are typically packed, but at the Tsukigase Plum Grove, you can really relax and just take in the flowers!
Aside from all these lovely plum trees, the Tsukigase Plum Grove has yet more to offer. Inside the garden are many restaurants and souvenir shops that open during the height of the plum season. A great spot to get a light meal or even a snack!
Just up from the path is a little temple called Shinpuku-ji. All the plum trees in the garden originated from this temple centuries ago and when Emperor Go-daigo visited Kasagi, a princess taught the villagers of Tsukigase how to extract dye from the plums. Because of her, the people in Tsukigase were able to prosper by producing that dye. While many plum gardens today do not have a long history, Tsukigase is, by contrast, quite a historic place.
The Most Photographic Spot of Tsukigase Plum Grove
East of the plum grove a river cuts through a small ravine. The soft tufts of pink, white, and red against the forests and gentle river make it the most iconic place in the Tsukigase Plum Grove. There you can take a great picture of the ravine and plum blossoms.
Without a doubt, this is one of the prettiest plum gardens we’ve ever visited!