Photo/IllutrationA weeping cherry tree, thought to be about 200 years old, is about 70 percent in bloom in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, on April 17. (Yosuke Fukudome)

  • Photo/Illustraion

NIHONMATSU, Fukushima Prefecture--A weeping cherry tree that tilts so strongly toward the water's edge it looks locked in a struggle to stay onshore is about 70 percent in bloom here.

By day, the tree believed to be about 200 years old, and the still partly snow-covered Mount Adatarayama in the distance, combine to create a striking scene.

The tree, located on a hill near a residential area, stands about 10 meters high and is 30 meters wide.

After sunset, it is illuminated, lending it an otherworldly atmosphere as its pink petals are highlighted in front of the dark blue evening sky and reflected on the water of the rice paddy at its feet.

The tree had been almost unknown even among local residents until 10 years ago because it had been concealed by two giant pine trees.

It was discovered only after the pines were cut down because pine weevils were damaging them and they had become withered.

A “jizo” Buddhist statue was also uncovered near the tree's base, leading the tree to be named “Nakajima no Jizo-zakura” (Nakajima district jizo cherry tree).

The illumination will be conducted from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through April 21.