I heard about a park somewhere in Odawara City where more than 35,000 plum trees lift their blossoming branches to frame distant Mount Fuji. That seemed worth the hour-long train ride, so I blocked off an afternoon for exploring. I must not have left at the exact time I’d researched, because lo and behold, I found myself in the middle of nowhere at the end of a train line that only ran once every 45 minutes or so. And I’d just missed the train. When I finally got to Shimosoga Station it was so tiny it didn’t even have a train pass-card reader. Where am I?? I was looking for the Soga Bairin Plum Orchard and immediately saw signs for it advertising the Fuji-and-plum-blossom photo, but it wasn’t on the map! Lots of other plum orchards were, but not Soga Bairin. Maybe that was the name of the festival? I followed the posters and signs through farms, along muddy dirt trails, beside fruit stands, and between empty tables set up under the plum blossoms for weekend merry-making. I followed some faint strains of traditional Japanese music and found the heart of the festival in the Bessyo Bairin Plum Orchard. A huge photo of Mt. Fuji with plum blossoms under it and a camera icon pointed back toward the direction I’d come from. Another map advertised the same Soga Bairin photo without placing it anywhere on the map, so I asked someone. He and his golden retriever walked me up a short hill and pointed at the only cloudbank on the horizon and shrugged apologetically. Oh. Fail. Here’s what I like about plum blossoms: they bloom in February. They smell REALLY, REALLY good! They keep blooming, even though it snowed this morning. They can be white, pale pink, bright pink, twisty trunks, tall weeping trees, or tiny scrubby trees. Plum and cherry blossoms look really similar with five petals each, but plum petals are round white cherry petals have forked notches in the middle (so each petal sort of looks like a heart). In conclusion, I didn’t get what I came for and spent most of the afternoon wandering around muddy fields wondering where Mt. Fuji could be hiding. But being lost in a blooming plum orchard is a pretty nice way to spend an afternoon.