While the sakura's petals make for a fleeting sight of beauty in March and April, the whitish purple and deep pink plum blossoms burst with vivid color that marks the start of Japan's spring. The plum, known as "ume" in Japanese, also makes for a great excuse to tour the archipelago in February through much of March. Here are top places to see the ume.
Often overlooked as a place to vacation in Japan, Osaka is a huge city by American standards and remains an economic engine in Asia. It's also a great place to visit, with its variety of top restaurants, towering castle, shopping destinations and close proximity to the Japan of old: Nara, Kyoto and Himeji castle.