10 events and things to do in Japan in February – univers-japon-shop

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Late winter can be chilly, but the air is thick with the promise of spring. February is a festive time in Japan, filled with celebrations, traditional events, and fun activities. There’s a lot going on, so let’s take a look at some of the best things happening this month.

1. Setsubun

Manger ehomaki and throwing beans are two important ways to ward off evil during Setsubun

Have you ever thought about doing to love (throwing beans) to drive away demons? Not? I bet you’ll want to try it after reading this. According to the Japanese lunar calendar, February 3 marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and on this day it is customary to ward off evil by throwing beans around the house, starting from the area furthest from the entrance. If you don’t want beans all over the house, you can do it at the front entrance, and many shrines and temples also house various to love events. This is a fun activity, especially for children, with a family member (at home) or a shrine representative wearing a demon mask and people chanting “Oni wa soto!” Fuku wa uchi! (Devils out! Happiness/fortune in!) while throwing beans after the demon.

Another tradition is to eat ehomaki, a long and very thick sushi roll, for good fortune while facing the so-called “lucky direction” and making a wish. The “lucky address” changes every year, so be sure to check back! Setsubun It is celebrated at many temples and shrines throughout Japan and is a festival you won’t want to miss.

When: February 3, 2023

2. Winter sports


One of the best things about a country with four different seasons is all the different sports you can do at different times of the year. In winter there is also no shortage of fun sports, the most popular being skiing and snowboarding. Many ski resorts are only an hour or a few hours from Tokyo, but you can also go as far north as Hokkaido. Ice skating is another popular activity, and it’s not uncommon to find rinks in major cities and beyond.

Many lesser known winter sports are also gaining popularity in Japan. Some ski resorts offer activities like dog sledding with huskies or snowmobiling on exclusive trails. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are fun for everyone, regardless of skill level, as a form of winter hiking. Ski resorts throughout Japan are the best places to start your winter sports adventure, and many also offer equipment rentals for the activities on offer.

When: all winter

3. Sapporo Snow Festival

Sapporo Snow Festival
Attending the Sapporo Snow Festival is a unique experience

One of the most popular winter festivals held in Sapporo is the best way to celebrate all things snow and ice. There is a lot to see and do at this festival, with art, culture, sports, live music, food and of course the famous ice sculptures. Events are spread across three different sites and offer something for everyone, from relaxing rides to adrenaline-pumping snowmobile rides. And you won’t be alone here: more than two million visitors attend each year, making it the largest winter festival in Japan.

When: from February 4 to 11, 2023

4. Winter Illuminations

Osaka Castle Illumination

One of the highlights of winter in Japan is its many lighting events and festivals. There are so many options in almost every prefecture, and they are almost always free. Amazing for walks, dates, and photography, seeing the lights is a lovely way to spend a winter’s night. Some must-see illuminations in February include a sea of ​​LED clouds at Nabana no Sato in Miel Prefecture, the illuminated frozen waterfalls of Oirase in Aomorie Prefecture, and the massive Yomiuri Land illumination in Tokyo. This only scratches the surface, but no matter where you are in Japan, there’s bound to be a lighting festival near you!

When: all winter

5. Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry trees bloom early along this river in Shizuoka

Photo cherry tree the season can be between the end of March and the beginning of May, but there is a chance to see some of the iconic flowers bloom even before then. Famous for its cherry blossom debut, a small town on the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture welcomes visitors in late February, where they can enjoy a lively festival that coincides with the blooming of some 8,000 cherry blossoms. Kawazu-zakura cherry. People flock to the 4-kilometre-long riverside lined with cherry trees, and the festival also has plenty of food, drink, entertainment, and lighting to keep you entertained throughout the day and night.

When: from February 1 to 28, 2023

6. Plum blossoms

plum blossoms
It can be hard to tell the difference between plum blossoms and cherry blossoms, but they are just as amazing.

It is often confused with cherry tree, oh (plum blossoms) bring the first hint of spring, and are just as beautiful as the more famous cherry blossoms. These flowers represent perseverance and purity and are identified by their evenly rounded petals, distinguishing them from cherry blossoms whose petals have a slit. They also bloom earlier and are celebrated across the country at special festivals. oh festivals You can participate in the festivities in parks, temples and shrines and enjoy the bitter oh fruit in food or drink. Some of the best places to view plum blossoms include Kairakuen, a beautiful garden in Mito in Ibaraki Prefecture, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto, and the small Yushima Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo, just to name a few.

When: from mid-February to the end of March

7. Nagasaki Lantern Festival

Chukagai of Nagasaki
Nagasaki’s Chinatown comes alive with lights and events during Chinese New Year

There’s no better way to celebrate Chinese New Year than by going to Japan’s largest lantern festival. Originally created by Chinese settlers, it became an official event in 1994 and has grown considerably ever since. With more than 15,000 lanterns, one of Japan’s largest Chinatowns lights up with attractions like the Emperor’s Parade, Chinese acrobatics, lion dances, fireworks and more. The main events take place in Minato and Chuo parks, near Nagasaki’s Chinatown. Souvenir stalls and food stalls are also set up for visitors to get a real taste of China. Lanterns and twinkling lights illuminate the city and make for a festive time not to be missed.

When: from January 22 to February 3, 2023

Everything is chocolate…

You may have heard that Japan celebrates Valentine’s Day differently than most Western countries, and you’re right! Japan often takes holidays abroad and adds its own twist to them, and February 14 is no exception. Here, women gift chocolate not only to their loved ones, but also to their male friends and colleagues, with the whole occasion revolving more around chocolate than romance. A true holiday for chocolate lovers, there are many events where people can go to sample limited-edition chocolate delights, including a popular event at Tokyo’s Heavenly Tree. You can also go pray for your love life at local shrines dedicated to deities believed to grant love-related wishes, such as the Imado Shrine in Tokyo. Whichever way you choose to celebrate, it’s the perfect time for anyone with a sweet tooth.

When: February 14, 2023

9. Yokote Kamakura Party

Yokote Snow Festival
Take a walk to admire the many snow huts at night.

Snow season also brings traditional snow houses called kamakura in cities like Yokote in Akita Prefecture, where this festival is held. You can see various snow houses throughout the city and pray to the water deity at the snow altars inside. Enjoy a walk admiring the numerous kamakuraand you may be invited in for rice cake and Awesome drink: hot sake with little or no alcohol. You can even learn to do kamakura in Komyoji Park! Head to the river to admire the beauty of hundreds of small illuminated lanterns. kamakuraand also enjoy the festival food.

When: February 15 and 16, 2023

10. Zao Snow Monsters

Zao Snow Monster Enlightenment
This natural phenomenon is quite a unique sight.

Look out for the monster-shaped, ice-covered trees known as the juhyo in Japanese, on top of Mount Zao in Yamagata Prefecture, where fierce Siberian winds create the perfect conditions for this natural phenomenon. Every year it’s so cold that the trees freeze into spectacular otherworldly shapes, which are lit up with psychedelic lights at night. You can bundle up and go for a walk, ride a gondola, or even ski through the ice monster forest. If you’re not too keen on walking in the cold, you can warm up and admire the creatures from a cozy cafe or on a guided snowmobile tour. The Zao Snow Monster Festival held here each February features a parade of skiers with LED torches and fireworks, adding to the excitement.

When: December 24 to February 27, 2023 (mid-February is the best time)

woman winter snow

Which of these fun activities made your list? There are so many must-see events that it can be hard to choose, but we hope this guide to some of the most exciting things happening in February helps you have many memorable experiences on your trip to Japan.

Japan Merveille Voyage is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan.
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