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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 Weeping Cherry Tree of Seiunji Temple | Saitama Prefecture
On the temple grounds of Seiunji, a temple located in the deep mountains between Nagano and Gunma prefectures, stands the weeping cherry tree registered as a national natural monument. Seiunji itself - with no monks residing in the temple - is not a noble temple, yet many people come to see this famous tree. The cherry flowers blossom in the beginning of April, and the sight of this 15-meter-tall, 3-meter-cirumference tree wearing a coat of pink blossoms is simply astonishing. It is estimated to be about 600 years old, and although the growth is becoming weaker this tree continues to impress people with its grand figure.
 
The Weeping Cherry Tree of Nakain | Saitama Prefecture
Kawagoe, once called “Little Edo”, is a city of storehouses. Lately the storehouses with retro atmosphere attract many visitors to this city, including groups of people coming to view cherry blossoms. For a stroll, Ichibangai Street is recommended, but to see the noble cherry tree head to Nakain located in the south of Kawagoe Taishi. From the roof of the main temple hall, the weeping cherry tree spreads out its branches like a fountain and creates a brilliant contrast against the black tiled roof. The tree is estimated to be 360 years old.
 
The Rock-split Tree of Morioka City | Iwate Prefecture
This famous “Ishiwarizakura” is an Edohiganzakura tree growing inside a crack between a huge granite rock which has a circumference of 23 meters. It is situated in front of the entrance of Morioka District Court, and although it is estimated to be more than 300 years old the tree keeps growing widening the crack even now. The best season to view the blossoms is around mid to late April. “Ishiwarizakura” has been registered the national natural monument.
 
The Kabazakura of Ishido | Saitama Prefecture
Tokoji Temple in the southwesternmost of Kitamoto City is a temple associated with Minamotono Yoritomo’s younger brother Noriyori. In the temple grounds grows the 700-year-old natural monument cherry tree. The tree is considered to be a mixed kind of Edohigan and Yamazakura, and is heavily going back but puts on white flowers in spring. The name “Kabazakura (Kaba/ sakura)” is said to have come from Noriyori’s other name “Kabanokaja”, when he was killed.
 
Matabeisakura of Oudacho | Nara Prefecture
Matabeisakura is a weeping cherry tree also known as takizakura (cherry fall), which is named after Goto Matabei, a former warlord and later a monk. The tree is said to be about 300 years old, and has a height of 13 meters. Matabeisakura, the best weeping cherry tree in this town blossoms during early to mid April and at night cherry blossom festivals are held. It is also lit up at night showing another king of beauty.
 
The Weeping Cherry of Chokozan | Kanagawa Prefecture
This area used to have a vast garden in the precinct of a lost temple devoted to the Inaba family of Odawara. However the garden and most of the temple had burnt down in late 19C, and currently only the main temple hall and a 300-year-old weeping cherry tree remain. This tree, natural monument and best cherry tree in Kanagawa has a 4.7-meter-circumference and is 14 meters tall. The tree is astonishingly beautiful at its peak of blossoming, with branches of gorgeous flowers falling to the ground in contrast with the green mountain in the back. By the way, there is an old story saying that branches of weeping cherry tree fall because they bear the spirits of the dead. Perhaps this is the reason why so many weeping trees are left in temples.
 
Weeping Cherry Tree of Hannyain | Ibaraki Prefecture
The Weeping Cherry of Hannyain widely known by the name of “Weeping Cherry of Ryugasaki” is an old tree of more than 400 years in age. It is almost 10 meters tall, 5 meters in circumference and the trunk splits as a grand weeping cherry tree from about 2 meters above ground. Some of the branches are longer than 10 meters but the tree as a whole is not gigantic. Nevertheless, the tree is a noble wood of beautiful figure. The tree is best when flowers blossom gregariously on the branches. It is also lit up during the best season.
 
 
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