Beyond sakura: Exploring Japan’s other spring flowers


Spring in Japan is perhaps one of the most highly anticipated seasons. Across the country, the weather gets warmer, the sun feels stronger and people gather for hanami (blossom viewing) to take in the timeless beauty of cherry blossom trees. Indeed, thanks to the enduring popularity of Japan’s representative sakura, spring here is seen as the season of flowers with light pink floral motifs adorning everything you’d like to eat and buy between March and May.

Yet, the famously ephemeral cherry blossom is not the only bloom to decorate Japanese spring gardens. If you’re looking to plant your own bouquet or gaze at a gorgeous botanical display, our list below has you covered! Here’s a primer on some of the prettiest flowers of the season. 

1. Sweet pea

Photo: iStock: magicflute002

Known as April’s flower of the month, pastel-colored delicate sweet peas (suiito pii, スイートピー) are an integral part of springtime bouquets sold in florists across the country and for good reason. Besides being dainty and spring-like, they also have a lovely sweet fragrance which adds to their charm in your home. While comparatively rare red sweet peas were historically not sold in Japanese flower shops, Matsuda Seiko’s 1982 hit Akai Sweet Pea (red sweet pea) led to a boom that continues until this day.

Sweet peas bloom between April and May in the Tokyo area and seedlings start to become available at home centers from January. Also, if you grow from seed, soak the large seeds in water for 12-24 hours before planting for better outcomes. As with most spring blooms, aim for a September or October planting in the ground of your garden. If you are planning on growing them as cut flowers after seeing them at the florist, be aware that they are actually vines. As such, we recommend to stake them, or prepare a net, fence, or trellis for them to climb on (Daiso, or other 100-yen stores have you covered for this!

2. Persian buttercup

Photo: iStock: TatianaMagoyan

Although part of the humble buttercup family, Persian buttercups (ranankyurasu, ラナンキュラス) offer gorgeous and showy blooms for your springtime garden. With layers of delicate crinkled petals and fern-like finely cut leaves, these flowers are show-stoppers in bouquets, on balconies, or growing in your yard. They also come in all the colors of the rainbow and bloom consistently for a whole six weeks. 

When planting from the bulb, make sure to soak in water for an hour first. Plant in September or October in your garden and make sure it has lots of sunlight, or find seedlings in late winter to bloom outside for you in early spring March and April. They will happily grow in the ground or in containers, but be careful that their environment— and especially their leaves and flowers—doesn’t get too moist via rain or your watering can. Sandy soil and a pot with good drainage are best for these beauties. 

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© Savvy Tokyo

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Love Japan’s myriad of flora every spring, summer and autumn.

Alas, hay fever is the malady we endure for love.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Lovely irises, sir but beg to differ. Hay fever in Japan is also from our flowering plants and grasses, not just our trees.  We suffer with all but still very much love our nature.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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