This week’s free wallpaper is a pink Ume blossom on a white backdrop. I was extremely impressed with the vivid contrast in this photo, and I just had to have it as my own desktop background. If you’ve spent much time looking at traditional East Asian art, you’ve almost certainly seen depictions of Ume blossoms. The Ume, also called the Japanese Plum or Chinese Plum (though it’s not really a plum as we think of them in the West), blooms in colors ranging from bright white to deep red in very late winter. The pink and red of the blossoms against late-winter snow creates a contrast much like that in this photo.
The Ume (Prunus mume) is, in Japan, traditionally seen as protection against evil, and are planted in the North-East of gardens. They are an even more important symbol in China, where they are among the first plants to show signs of life at the end of Winter. For this reason, they are seen as a symbol of perseverance and toughness, and have been used in modern times as a symbol of revolution.
The fruit of the Ume is used in a variety of dishes throughout East Asia. The most memorable (to me) form, though, is Umeboshi, or pickled and dried Ume. It is extremely sour and rather salty, and small slices of it are very popular wrapped in balls of rice called Onigiri, which serves as a sort of snack food. I very vividly remember the first time I tried Onigiri with Umeboshi filling. You wouldn’t believe how intense such a tiny bit of fruit in rice can be, and it’s a treat not quickly forgotten.
Ume Blossom on White
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