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A feature on cherry blossoms

The cherry blossoms of the Mint Bureau that color the spring of Osaka


One of the spring attractions in Osaka is the cherry blossom walkthrough at the Mint Bureau.
Every year in mid-April, the passage inside the Mint Bureau, located in Kita-ku, Osaka, is opened to the general public for flower viewing.
However, you can only enjoy the cherry blossoms for one week only…
Therefore, when the cherry blossoms of the Mint Bureau start to bloom, the people of Osaka get restless…

“Boss, I’m sorry. I’m leaving at six today.”
“Oh, are you going on a date today?”
“Yes, I’m planning to go to the Mint Bureau with my boyfriend♪”
(Someone from another department who heard it from afar comes over)
“I took my kids there yesterday. It was super crowded.”
(The boss also stops his work)
“It was crowded? My grandma also wanted to go, so maybe I’ll take a day off tomorrow and go with her.”

When I was a new graduate, I worked in an office in Chuo-ku, Osaka, so I used to hear conversations like this in spring.

Osakans love to talk, love helping others and they respect nature.
“If the cherry blossoms bloom in the flowering season, people have to go see them.”
That’s why I went to see the cherry blossoms at the Mint Bureau every year, even though I didn’t have any plans with anyone.

  • 80% of the cherry blossoms at the Mint Bureau are double-flowered cherry blossoms.
    80% of the cherry blossoms at the Mint Bureau are double-flowered cherry blossoms.
  • 130 kinds and 330 trees of cherry blossoms bloom in full glory.
    130 kinds and 330 trees of cherry blossoms bloom in full glory.

The history of the Mint Bureau and cherry blossoms


Let’s take a look at the history of the cherry blossoms at the Mint Bureau.
Going back to the Edo period.
Originally, at the place where the Mint Bureau was located, there was the Osaka kurayashiki of the Todo clan.
The Todo clan collected rare double-flowered cherry blossoms from all over the country and planted them on the embankment as a collection.
The kurayashiki was confiscated by the Meiji government, but in 1871 (Meiji 4), it was reused as the Mint Bureau.
The yashiki of the clan was gone,
but the double-flowered cherry blossoms were transplanted to the premises of the Mint Bureau and were carefully handed down.
And in 1883 (Meiji 16).
The chief of Mint Bureau at that time, Kinsuke Endo,
proposed to open the cherry blossoms to the public, saying
“It is a waste to enjoy cherry blossoms only by the staff. Let’s enjoy them with the citizens of Osaka.”
This was the beginning of the “cherry blossom walkthrough”.

🌸A side story about Endo Kinsuke
Endo Kinsuke is not a very well-known person, but he was one of the “Choshu Five”. He was the “father of the Japanese Mint” and played an important role in the modernization of Japan.

🌸What is the “Choshu Five”?
They are five young men from Choshu who risked their lives to secretly travel to Britain in the late Edo period, breaking the national ban.
In addition to Endo Kinsuke, there were Ito Hirobumi, who became the first Prime Minister of Japan.
Inoue Kaoru, the first Minister of Foreign Affairs, who conducted brilliant diplomacy at the Rokumeikan.
Inoue Masaru, who was praised as the father of railways.
Yamao Yozo, who led Japan to become an industrial nation.

When you list Endo Kinsuke’s friends, you can see that they are a remarkable group of people.
Also, when I looked at the chronology to write this article,
I noticed that Godai Tomoatsu, who contributed to the economic development of Osaka, was also studying abroad at the same time as Endo Kinsuke!
Godai Tomoatsu may be remembered by many people because Dean Fujioka played his role as “Godai Tomoatsu” in the NHK morning drama “Asa ga Kita”.
Endo Kinsuke, who had a splendid network of contacts, but did not act arrogantly,
and proposed to make the beautiful cherry blossom trees of the Mint opento the citizens.
His personality is admirable.

The reason why it is called “Walkthrough”

The only place where you can see the cherry blossoms of the Mint is the passage that runs from the south gate to the north gate of the Mint, about 560 meters long.
It is generally known as “Torinuke”, which means “walk-through”,
but it was not named “Torinuke” from the beginning.
It was made one-way to ease the congestion of cherry blossom viewers,
and eventually it came to be called “Torinuke” (walkthrough) by that name.

Once-in-a-lifetime meeting with cherry blossoms
Once-in-a-lifetime meeting with cherry blossoms

The life of the flowers, the work of humans

The beauty of the cherry blossoms at night, different from the day
The beauty of the cherry blossoms at night, different from the day

The Mint celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2021. Also, this year 2023 marks the 140th anniversary of the start of the “Torinuke” (walkthrough) of the cherry blossoms.

Don’t you think it’s amazing that cherry blossoms keep blooming in the same place for so long?

Generally, cherry blossoms are said to have a lifespan of 40 to 60 years. Moreover, cherry blossoms are plants that have a risk of “soil sickness”, which means they do not like monocropping.

In other words, human care is essential to maintain the variety and number of cherry trees!

We humans who visit the Mint hope that “Next year, I want to see these cherry blossoms in this place” but that is originally at the convenience of humans.

The cherry blossoms of the Mint can continue to bloom in that place as a matter of course, only because there are staff members who are conducting daily care.

Go a little further

The area around the Mint has been known as a scenic spot since ancient times,
and it is bustling in every season, with cherry blossoms in spring and cooling boats in summer…
Especially, “Sakuranomiya” on the opposite bank of the Okawa River has been known as a cherry blossom spot since the Edo period,
and you can see it in Kamigata rakugo (Hilarious Japanese story) and Nishikie (brocade picture).

🌸Keima Sakuranomiya Park
A 4.2 km riverside park that stretches along both banks of the Okawa River.
Both banks from Keima Bridge to Miyakojima Bridge, Genpachi Bridge, and Tenmabashi Bridge are full of cherry blossoms,
and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery.

🌸Osaka Castle Park
A well-known cherry blossom spot in Kansai.
Especially, in the Nishinomaru Garden, you can see about 300 cherry trees mainly of Somei Yoshino.
You can also enjoy cherry blossom illumination at night.

Check carefully before you go out!

The annual event that decorates the spring of Naniwa, the Torinuke (walkthrough) of the cherry blossoms. However, as it is a very popular spot, congestion is inevitable.
In 2020 and 2021, it was forced to be canceled due to the impact of the new coronavirus.
In 2022, it was held for the first time in three years with infection prevention measures,
but this year it seems to follow the same system as last year, which requires advance application.
Details are posted on the Mint’s website, so please check it before you go out.

Irreplaceable memories, with the cherry blossoms
Irreplaceable memories, with the cherry blossoms