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Point of interest: 梅の花(うめのはな)

POI
梅の花(うめのはな) - ume blossoms
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303 words
This article is based on the essay on 梅 in the Joy o' Kanji essay collection.
The
うめ
, variously known as 'ume', 'plum', or 'Japanese apricot' is an endearing staple of Japanese life, with its striking visual appearance and its distinctive taste - for more on this delightful food character, see the Joy o' Kanji essay.
In addition to use as a food (and drink!), ume are known for their blossoms. Ume blossoms are not quite as well known as sakura (cherry) blossoms, but they are very attractive nonetheless. There are two ways of referring to ume blossoms:
0
noun
ume (plum) blossoms  (see also: 梅花)
(click the word for examples and links)
TEST
1
noun
ume (plum) blossoms
(click the word for examples and links)
TEST
The first is more common and reflects the Joyo kun-yomi. The second term employs the other Joyo reading of 梅, the on-yomi バイ. Incidentally, you can read the 梅 in 梅花 with a third yomi, in which case the meaning of the word also changes:
noun
plum blossom design; silk fabric with a plum blossom design  (obscure term)
(click the word for examples and links)
TEST
In this obscure term, the non-Joyo モイ pronunciation of 梅 is a 唐音 (とうおん: an on-yomi from Chinese readings of the 12th century and onward), according to Daijisen and Nihon Kokugo Dai-Jiten.
Back to 梅の花 (うめのはな), here are three example sentences:
うめ
はな
さんがつ
3月

Ume blossoms come out in March.
うめ
はな
ほころ
きせつ
季節
なりました
It’s time for ume blossoms to appear.
うめ
はな
こんしゅう
今週
みごろ
見頃
です
The ume blossoms are at their best this week.
Despite the assertiveness of the first sentence, ume actually blooms from mid- February to the end of March in Japan, depending on the variety.
Here are ways of referring to the striking colors of ume blossoms:
0
noun
white plum blossoms; white Japanese apricot; white-blossomed plum
(click the word to view an additional 1 reading, examples and links)
TEST
0
noun
red-blossomed plum tree; red Japanese apricot
(click the word to view an additional 1 reading, examples and links)
TEST
Despite the presence of 紅 (deep red) in 紅梅, the blossoms are decidedly pink— Pepto Bismol pink, in fact! The pink blossoms are more common than the white ones.
The term 紅梅 has inspired two others:
0
light pink
(click the word for examples and links)
TEST
0
noun
var. of senbei shaped like a Japanese plum
(click the word to view an additional 1 form, examples and links)
TEST
A senbei (煎餅, せんべい) is a rice cracker.
The Japanese refer to ume blossom viewing in two ways, the first of which is more common:
3
noun
plum-blossom viewing  (see also: 花見)
(click the word for examples and links)
TEST
0
noun
plum blossom viewing
(click the word for examples and links)
TEST
Despite the beauty of ume blossoms and the profusion of related terms, the Japanese seem to feel much more excited about the emergence of cherry blossoms.

Kanji used in this point of interest

バイ   うめ plum tree   
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カ   はな flower   
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トウ   から T'ang Dynasty, China   
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オン   イン   sound   おと    ね    
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コウ   ク   くれない deep red   べに lipstick   
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セン   boil   い to fry   
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ヘイ   もち mochi   
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ガツ   ゲツ   つき month; moon   
to blossom, bloom   
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タン   ほころびる to unravel, come apart   
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キ    season   
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セツ   セチ   ふし occasion, time   
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コン   キン   いま now   
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シュウ    a week   
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ケン   み to see   みえる to be seen; to appear   みせる to show   
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ころ time   
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