A Japanese Plum Tree

In the community of tiny half-dilapidated apartments where I spent my childhood, there were many old trees of age over fifty. Rows of cherry trees, a huge willow, some persimmon trees and Japanese plum trees were among them.

Of all the trees, one of the Japanese plum trees was my absolute favourite. It stood on a gentle slope with other plum trees and persimmon trees, but what was very special about this particular Japanese plum tree was that it had such a perfect shape for climbing. With its bottom branches spreading almost horizontally to the ground, even little children could climb and sit on the tree without much effort.

Between the age of four and five, except during the winter, almost every day I would play a fake family drama with my two childhood best friends on this Japanese plum tree. We would assign each of us a branch as our private room. There was also a kitchen and other common rooms. My room was usually a particularly thick branch near the bottom, while my adventurous friend took the highest branch she could reach. For the food, we plucked plums and leaves. I don’t remember what role I used to play in the family drama, but my favourite part was when I drifted off to a daydream on my favourite branch as I listened to my friends talking on the other branches.

When I was six, I started to visit this tree on my own as well. It was shortly after the loss of my younger brother and I had started writing stories about his imaginary adventures in my alone time. I would go to my beloved Japanese plum tree with a notebook and pencils, sit on my favourite branch, and write the story as I dangled my legs in the air looking over my community and drifting off to another daydream.

The tree was cut down when the community was demolished to build new apartment buildings about fifteen years ago. But as the Spring arrives and I sit down under an old tree near my house, I remember that friendly Japanese plum tree so vividly like yesterday.