Amami Oshima’s Nature and the Dilemma of Sakura

Amami Oshima is in full bloom with Sakura. While Sakura in Japan typically bloom in April, in Amami Oshima and Okinawa, they bloom from late January to February. Travelers arriving a bit earlier in Japan are in for a lucky treat. The Sakura on Amami Oshima Island, known as Bellflower cherry, has a deep pink color, distinguishing them from the mainland cherry blossoms.

These Sakura are a different variety from those on the mainland. Despite their vibrant beauty, the situation is somewhat complex. The Sakura on Amami Oshima are not native but rather an introduced species, considered invasive. Bellflower cherry produces fruits that birds consume and spread seeds in the forests. This leads to the growth of new trees, posing a threat to the native species.

While the Bellflower cherry blossoms lining the streets are undeniably beautiful, there’s a mixed sentiment considering the balance with Amami Oshima’s native ecosystem.