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Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2002

Exhibit of dwarf 'ume' gives preview of spring

Staff writer

NAGAHAMA, Shiga Pref. -- An annual exhibit of dwarf "ume" (plum) trees at Keiunkan Hall here is giving visitors a glimpse of early spring. Of 300 bonsai trees prepared for the event, about 100 will be shown till March 10.

News photo
Visitors view dwarf "ume" (plum) trees at an exhibition at Keiunkan hall in Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture.

The event started in 1952, when Shichizou Takayama of Asai, Shiga Prefecture, who had been growing dwarf ume trees at his house, donated about 40 to the city of Nagahama. Since then, the city has held the annual exhibit at the guesthouse where Emperor Meiji stayed in an 1887 visit.

Since the Nagahama area is suited for fruit trees, not only farmers but also ordinary families grow ume trees for the plums.

At the exhibition being held here, some ume trees are about 400 years old and some trunks are up to 2 meters in diameter. After the exhibition, the trees will be kept and cared for at three places in the city for the next year.

The exhibition is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily until March 10. From Feb. 9 to 28, the closing time is 8 p.m. The entrance fee is 500 yen for adults and 200 yen for junior high and elementary school students. Call the city at (0749) 62-4111.

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