This year’s cherry blossom is a bit late…. But there are still various places where one can see and enjoy cherry flowers. The Omake Cherry Tree in front of the Chotokuji Temple is one of the first to bloom in Kyoto. And it’s been an amazing view for the last few days. The magnificent Okame cherry is one of the first variety to bloom. It breaks the dreary grip of late winter with an outstanding two- to three-week display of rosy pink blossoms. This hybrid small flowering cherry was developed in England, created by crossing two Asian cherry species. Origins The Okame cherry is a man-developed hybrid plant. In early 20th century England, noted cherry tree enthusiast Captain Collingwood Ingram experimented with creating a cherry with excellent tolerance of winter cold and tremendous flowering. The seedling ‘Okame’ resulted from fertilizing the female flower of a Fuji cherry (Prunus incisa) with the pollen from a Taiwan cherry (Cerasus campanulata). Sources in the 20th century published the botanical name as Prunus x incisa ‘Okame’. This name is considered synonymous with, but is not preferred to, the modern name of Prunus ‘Okame’. Oh, by the way, the name “Okame” which means “Tortoise”, is also a lucky symbol for long life. Okame represents a lovely, always smiling Japanese woman who brings happiness and good fortune to any man she marries.