Pink. Pink. Pink. What other color comes to mind when you think about cherry blossoms and the trees that define Japan at this time of year? Pink, of course. Having been in Texas for the better part of April, I had resigned myself to missing this year’s sakura. Oh, well, there’s always next year. This is what I was thinking as I drove to Senninzuka Prefectural Park in my town of Iijima. The park has a small lake that is circled by about 600 cherry trees that are beautiful against the back drop of snow capped mountains. Today I was going to the park to get pictures of the mallet golf course that is also at the park and that I had promised to write about for this month’s entry. (Postponed for later because I got sidetracked.) I never expected–but was pleasantly surprised to do so–to find some of the trees still in full bloom and the park nearly deserted.
You know that feeling you get when you walk into the matinee for a movie you’ve been wanting to watch and almost missed but is now about to play wide screen and you’ve got your choice of seats? Yatta!
It’s the altitude –about 800 meters–and the lower temperatures that lets the cherry trees here bloom later than anywhere else in the Ina Valley.
The man who keeps the grounds and I started talking and he said, “there’s a tree with green flowers.” Say what? At first I thought I’d heard wrong, but he said, “…midori iro no hana.” Sure enough. Green cherry blossoms!! See the tree in the middle? It has green flowers. No, it’s not just leaves.
Here’s a closer look. The color is actually a yellowish,
lime green. White, pink, all shades of pink, and maybe red or purple,even. But green? I never would have thought. This type is called gyoikozakura, and it was a present given to Iijima from a town from in Shizuoka as a symbol of friendship.
I lingered at the park a little longer and met this retired couple who were on their way to a neighboring town to volunteer at an apple farm. They had decided to camp here for the night. They travel in their van throughout Japan for about 120 days out of the year and they said they had never been in a town with such beautiful views of both the Chuo and Minami Alps. Over green tea and an apple that Mrs. Y peeled as we talked, we sat on the grass and talked about world affairs, their travels and mountain climbing, and why I am in Japan. Green cherry blossoms, o-cha, and a lovely couple. What a nice afternoon.