Its effort is vain,
the darkness of this spring night:
true, we cannot see
the colour of the plum blossoms—
but how can it hide their scent?

Ōshikōchi no Mitsune (d. c. 925?), courtier of the Heian period

In Japan, plum trees blossom in February and March: the very first flowers to appear. Their gentle but persistent beauty announces the arrival of spring.

Admiring plum blossom with (top to bottom, left to right): Yoshida Hiroshi, Plum Gateway, 1935 [source]; Takahashi Hiroaki, Bush Warbler and Snowy Plum Tree, 1930s [source]; Yoshida Toshi, White Plum in the Farm Yard, 1951 [source]; Ito Sozan, Looking Out, early 20th c. [source]; Toyokawa Yoshikuni, Plum Tree at Night, early 20th c. [source]; Koho, Plum and the Moon, 1930s [source]; Tsuchiya Koitsu, Plum Warbler, 1940 [source]; Utagawa Hiroshige II, Plum Garden at Kameido, 1859 [source].