The Importance of Japan’s Ume Plum

Many people who have seen a lot of Japanese art are aware of the prominence of the sakura cherry blossoms. Before the cherry blossom became popular with Japanese artists, though, their works strongly featured a different kind of flower. This was the blossom of the ume plum, often known in English-speaking countries as either the Japanese apricot or the Chinese plum. Such blossoms were favored in Japanese art during the Nara period from 710 to 794.

According to Japanese traditions, the ume has magical, protective attributes. They would often plant the ume trees on the northeastern side of gardens to ward off evil forces, since it was from the northeast that evil was said to come. They would then pickle the plums that grew on these trees and eat them for breakfast in the hopes of promoting good fortune.

No matter what your own beliefs may be, ume plums will always be a sweet and nutritious addition to any Japanese meal. Try this delicious fruit today at our Japanese restaurant in Seattle in the form of our ume-shiso sushi.