This January was one of the most pleasant that Tokyo has ever seen. Don’t expect February to be the same, the cold is on its way! However, don’t let it keep you from getting out and enjoying some of the festivals & events planned for February – there are many (see below)! *Note: be sure to double-check dates and times as information online is sometimes incorrect/out of date.
1/5-3/3 Atami Baien Ume Matsuri, or Japanese Plum Festival at Atami Baien (Japanese plum garden), Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture. There are 470 Japanese plum trees of 60 species in the garden and they begin to bloom from mid-January. Various entertainment is scheduled during the period. The garden is open from 8:30 – 16:00. Admission is 300 yen. Access (1) The JR Ito Line to Kinomiya Sta., and then walk 10 min. (2) The JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line or JR Tokaido Honsen Line to Atami Sta. From there, 15 min. by bus bound for Ainohara-Danchi or Baien, and then get off at Baien Bus Stop.
1/27-3/24 Tsubaki Matsuri, Oshima Island, Tokyo. Camelia festival. Various species of camelia are in bloom during the festival period. Daily from 9:30-15:30. Oshima locals perform at Tsubaki Plaza. There is also a night festival (Yomatsuri) in the passenger waiting room in Motomachi Port. Access: 1) Yurikamome Monorail Line to Takeshiba Station, then walk to Takeshiba Pier. From there, take Tokai Kisen ferry boat (8 hours) or hydrofoil (1hr. 45min) to Oshima Island. 2) From Haneda Airport, take airplane (30 minutes).
2/2 – 3/3 Odawara Ume Matsuri, Odawara Joshi Park, Soga Bairin, Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Japanese plum festival, 250 plum trees in Odawara Joshi Park & about 35,000 trees in Soga Bairin – which consists of three gardens: Bessho, Nakagawara, & Hara. Many events are scheduled every Saturday and Sunday during the festival period. Access: 1) Odawara Joshi Park: JR Tokaido Line or Odakyu Line to Odawara Station (East Exit), and then walk 10 minutes. 2) Hara & Bessho Garden: JR Gotemba Line to Shimo-Soga Station, and then walk 10 minutes. 3) Nakagawara Garden: JR Gotemba Line to Shimo-Soga Station, and then walk 20 minutes.
2/2 – 3/10 Yugawara-bairin ‘Ume-no-Utage’, Makuyama Park, Yugawara Town, Kanagawa Prefecture. Ume (Japanese apricot) flower festival. Visitors can enjoy viewing about 4,000 trees in bloom. Admission is 200 yen. Special events include classical Japanese dance, Japanese drum performances, singing of folk songs… Access: JR Tokaido Honsen Line to Yugawara Station. From there, take the direct bus to Makuyama Koen Bus Stop.
2/2, 2/14 & 2/26 Tako Ichi, Oji Inari Shrine, Kita Ward, Tokyo. Kite fair. Kites, regarded as a talisman for preventing fire, are sold at some stalls among many other open-air stalls, which are set up in the precincts and along the approach to the shrine. 10:00 – 18:00. Access: JR Keihin Tohoku Line or Tokyo Metro Namboku Line to Oji Station, and then walk 10 minutes.
2/4-3/3 Hina-matsuri (hina doll festival), Makabe Town, Ibaraki Prefecture. This sleepy countryside town comes alive every February, opening its doors (literally) to visitors. 160 residences & businesses, many of which are in buildings over 100 years old, participate in the festival by putting up displays, serving snacks, displaying art, and more. Daily from 9:30 to 16:30 – but, DON’T GO ON A WEDNESDAY as many businesses close that day. Access: It is very hard to reach Makabe by mass transportation. It is best to travel there by car – it takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes from central Tokyo.
2/3 Setsubun, a traditional ceremony to dispel demons at the noted temples and shrines all over Japan. According to the lunar calendar, “Setsubun ” marks the last day of winter. People throng temples and shrines to vie with each other for lucky beans which are thrown by priests, monks or famous figures who shout “Fuku-wa-uchi, Oni-wa-soto !” (Fortune in, Devils out!) to drive away imaginary devils. Mamemaki, bean-throwing ceremonies are scheduled at the following major temples and shrines in and around Tokyo:
(1) Sensoji Temple, Taito-ku. Mamemaki (bean-throwing ceremony) takes place twice from 12:00 and 14:00. From 14:30 – a dance of the 7 lucky gods. After that, well-known figures join bean-throwing ceremonies four times – at 16:00, 16:20, 16:40, & 17:00. Access The Ginza or Toei Asakusa Subway Line to Asakusa Sta. (G 19, A 18), and then walk 5 min.
(2) Zojoji Temple, Minato-ku. Procession of bean throwers and praying for rites from 11:30. Mamemaki (bean-throwing ceremony) joined by well-known figures takes place from around 12:20. Access (1) The Toei Mita Subway Line to Onarimon Sta. (I 06) or Shibakoen Sta. (I 05), and then walk 3 min. (2) The Toei Asakusa or Toei Oedo Subway Line to Daimon Sta. (A 09, E 20), and then walk 5 min.
(3) Gokokuji Temple, Bunkyo-ku. Taiko drumming is performed from 13:00pm. And then, rites from 15:00pm and mamemaki (bean-throwing ceremony) takes place from around 15:30 pm. Access The Yurakucho Subway Line to Gokokuji Sta. (Y 11), and then walk 1 min.
(4) Hie Shrine, Chiyoda-ku. Mamemaki (bean-throwing ceremony) takes place from 11:30. Access (1) The Chiyoda Subway Line to Akasaka Sta. (C 06) (Exit 2), and then walk 3 min. (2) The Ginza or Namboku Subway Line to Tameike-Sanno Sta. (G 06, N 06) (Exit 7), and then walk 3 min.
(5) Kanda Myojin Shrine, Chiyoda-ku. Mamemaki (bean-throwing ceremony) takes place from 14:00. Access (1) The JR Chuo Line or JR Sobu Line to Ochanomizu Sta. (Hijiribashi Exit), and then walk 5 min. (2) The JR Yamanote Line, JR Keihin Tohoku Line or JR Sobu Line to Akihabara Sta. (Denkigai Exit), and then walk 7 min. (3) The Marunouchi Subway Line to Ochanomizu Sta. (M 20) (Exit 1), and then walk 5 min. (4) The Chiyoda Subway Line to Shin-Ochanomizu Sta. (C 12) (Exit B1), and then walk 5 min.
(6) Kameido Tenjin Shrine, Koto-ku. Mamemaki (bean-throwing ceremony) takes place following Oni-yarai (rites of driving away devils) which start from around 17:30 pm. Access The JR Sobu Line to Kameido Sta. (North Exit), and then walk 15 min.
(7) Ikegami Honmonji Temple, Ota-ku. Mamemaki (bean-throwing ceremony) by Buddhist monks and famous people takes place from 15:00, following the rites which start from 14:00. Access (1) The Tokyu Ikegami Line to Ikegami Sta., and then walk 10 min. (2) The Toei Asakusa Subway Line to Nishi-Magome Sta. (A 01), and then walk 10 min.
(8) Toyokawa Inari Betsuin, Minato-ku. Mamemaki (bean-throwing ceremony) takes place from 15:00, following rites which start from 14:00. Access (1) The Marunouchi or Ginza Subway Line to Akasaka-Mitsuke Sta. (M 13, G 05) (Exit B), and then walk 5 min. (2) The Yurakucho, Hanzomon or Namboku Subway Line to Nagatacho Sta. (Y 16, Z 04, N 07) (Exit 7), and then walk 5 min.
(9) Kawasaki Daishi Temple, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture. Mamemaki (Buddhist monks and famous people) takes place at 11:30, 14:00, and 16:30. Access: Keikyu Daishi Line to Kawasaki Station and then walk 8 minutes.
(10) Hase-dera Temple, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. Mamemaki starts at 12:00. 300 yen entrance fee. As the number of visitors is limited, it might be best to arrive at the temple before 11am. Admission 300 yen. Access: JR Yokosuka Line to Kamakura Station. From there take the Enoshima Dentetsu (Enoden) Line to Hase Station, then walk 5 minutes.
(11) Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. Prayer rites and mamemaki start at 13:00. The number of visitors is limited, numbered tickets are distributed at the gate from noon. Access: JR Yokosuka Line to Kamakura Station, then walk 10 minutes.
(12) Shibamata Taishakuten Temple, Katsushika Ward, Tokyo. Procession of bean throwers from 13:20, mamemaki thrown by Buddhist monks and famous people at 14:00 & 15:00. Access: Keisei Kanamachi Line to Shibamata Station, then walk 3 minutes.
(13) Kamakura-gu Shrine, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. Rites start from 15:00, Mamemaki starts from 15:40. Access: JR Yokosuka Line to Kamakura Station (East Exit), and then walk 30 minutes. Or, take Keikyu bus (for Daitonomiya) to Daitonomiya Bus Stop.
(14) Sojiji Temple, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture. Mamemaki (by Buddhist monks and famous people) is conducted. The number of visitors is limited. Numbered tickets are distributed at the gate which opens at 10:00 for this event. Rites start at 12:00, mamemaki from 12:30. Access: JR Keihin Tohoku Line to Tsurumi Station (West Exit), and then walk 7 minutes. Or, Keikyu Line to Keikyu Tsurumi Station, and then walk 10 minutes.
(15) Setsubun Yoroi Toshikoshi, Bannaji Temple, Orihime Kominkan, & others, Ashikaga City, Tochigi Prefecture. Setsubun, featuring Yoroi-gyoretsu, a procession of about 200 people clad in armored warriors along O-dori Avenue from Orihime Kominkan Public Hall to the temple. 17:00-18:00 Yoroi-gyoretsu, 18:00-18:30 mamemaki.
(16) Tokubetsu Tsukuba Mamemaki-shiki, Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, Narita City, Chiba Prefecture. Setsubun ceremony at the temple. Mamemaki are thrown by Buddhist monks and famous people (like sumo wrestlers) from 12:00. Access: JR Yokosuka Line to Kamakura Station. From there, take Enoshima Dentetsu (Enoden) Line to Hase Station, and then walk 5 minutes.
2/3 Daruma-kuyo, memorial services for used Dharma dolls at Nishi-Arai Daishi Temple, Adachi-ku. When people make a wish and it is granted, they paint eyes of Dharma dolls. The memorial service in which the priest sets fire to stacks of used Dharma dolls while chanting a Buddhist sutra, is conducted from 11:30 am. Mamemaki is conducted from 15:30. Access The Tobu Isesaki Line to Nishi-Arai Sta., and change to the Tobu Daishi Line to Daishi-mae Sta., and then walk 5 min.
2/3 Daruma-ichi & Setsubun Mamemaki-shiki, Takahata Fudoson Temple, Hino City, Tokyo. Mamemaki – lucky beans are thrown by Buddhist monks and famous people. About 100 open-air stalls selling Dharma dolls and festival food are set up in and around the compound of the temple. Mamemaki takes place at 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, & 16:00. Access: Keio Line to Takahata-fudo Station, then walk 5 minutes.
2/3 Sohei-Gyoretsu, Hosenji Temple, Meitoku Inari Shrine and other places, Nakano Ward, Tokyo. From 15:30 a procession of 100 Buddhist monks and parishioners attired in Buddhist monk soldier costumes takes place from Meitoku Inari to Hosenji. From 16:30 mamemaki will take place in the compound of the temple. Access: Hosenji Temple – Marunouchi Line or Toei Oedo Line to Nakano-Sakaue Station, then walk 5 minutes.
2/4 – 2/19 Shunsetsu, Chinese New Year, Chinatown, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture. Various events scheduled, including: 2/4 24:00 Countdown in Kantei-byo Temple and Masobyo Temple. 2/5 16:00 – 20:00 shishimai (lion dance) around town. 2/9, 2/10, 2/11, 2/17 – Many Chinese performances are demonstrated at Yamashitacho Park. 2/16 – 16:00 Parade of people in traditional Chinese attire. Access (1) The JR Keihin Tohoku Line or JR Negishi Line to Ishikawacho Sta., and then walk 5 min. (2) The Tokyu Toyoko Line or Yokohama Minatomirai Line to Motomachi-Chukagai Sta., and then walk 1 min.
2/8 Hari-kuyo, or memorial services for used, broken needles and pins. People put those needles and pins into a huge cake of Tofu (soybean curd) placed on an altar, praying for improving their skills of needlework. The services are conducted at the following temples:
(1) Shojuin Temple, Shinjuku-ku. The memorial service is held from around 13:00. Chino Gyoretsu (procession of children in fancy attire) will occur around the temple grounds during the service. Access (1) The Marunouchi Subway Line to Shinjuku-Gyoenmae Sta. (M 10), and then walk 5 min. (2) The Marunouchi or Toei Shinjuku Subway Line to Shinjuku-Sanchome Sta. (M 09, S 02), and then walk 5 min.
(2) Shinganji Temple, Setagaya-ku. The memorial service is held from around 13:30 pm. Access The Keio Inokashira Line or the Odakyu Line to Shimokitazawa Sta. (South Exit), and then walk 10 min.
(3) Sensoji Temple, Taito-ku. The memorial service is held from 11:00. Access The Ginza or Toei Asakusa Subway Line to Asakusa Sta. (G 19, A 18), and then walk 5 min.
2/8-3/8 Yushima Tenjin Ume Matsuri, Japanese Apricot Blossom Festival at Yushima Tenjin Shrine, Bunkyo-ku. Nodate (an open-air tea ceremony), Taiko (Japanese drumming) and other entertainment are scheduled throughout the festival period. Access (1) The Chiyoda Subway Line to Yushima Sta. (C 13) (Exit 3), and then walk 2 min. (2) The Ginza Subway Line to Ueno-hirokoji Sta. (G 15), and then walk 5 min.
2/9-3/3 Setagaya Ume Matsuri, Hanegi Park, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. Nearly 650 plum trees blossom in the park. Tea ceremony, koto performances and Taiko drumming are scheduled throughout the festival (mostly on weekends). Access: Odakyu Line to Umegaoka Station, then walk 5 minutes.
2/9-3/3 Sankei-en Kanbai-kai / Ume Matsuri, Japanese Apricot Blossom Festival at Sankei-en Garden, Yokohama, Kanagawa Pref. This Japanese-style landscape garden has about 600 Japanese apricot trees, and is open from 10:00 to 16:30 daily. Admission is 700 yen. Access (1) The JR Negishi Line to Negishi Sta. From there, 10 min. by bus to Honmoku Bus Stop, and then walk 7 min. (2) The JR Keihin Tohoku, JR Tokaido or the Tokyu Toyoko Line to Yokohama Sta. (East Exit). From there, 35 min. by bus to Honmoku Sankeien-mae Bus Stop, and then walk 5 min.
2/10-3/10. Kawazu-zakura Matsuri, or Cherry Blossom Festival in Kawazu, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefectire. Rich pink blossoms are distinctive of Kawazu-zakura which come into bloom in February. Enjoy seeing the cherry blossoms along the Kawazu River, even at night until 21:00, since the blossoms are lit up daily during the period. Access (1) 2 hrs. 30 min. by JR Limited Express “Odoriko” from Tokyo Sta. to Kawazu Sta. (2) 50 min. by the Izukyuko Line from Ito Sta. on the JR Ito Line to Kawazu Sta.
2/16-3/31. Mito-no-Ume Matsuri, One of Japan’s most famous plum blossom festivals at Kairakuen Garden, Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture. Various events are scheduled. Admission to this garden is free. Access (1) The JR Joban Line to Kairakuen Rinji Sta. (temporary station). Direct local trains & Limited Express trains leaving Ueno Sta. from 8:00 to 14:00 are operated on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays during the period. (2) The JR Joban Line to Mito Sta. (North Exit), and then take bus to Kairakuen Bus Stop (15 min).
2/17 The Ome Marathon, 19,000 runners participating, starts at 9:30 (for the 10-km race) and at 11:30 (for the 30-km race) from Higashi Ome 4-chome area. Access: The JR Ome Line to Kabe Station or Higashi-Ome Station.
2/25 Warabi Hadaka Matsuri (literally, naked festival) at Mimusubi Shrine, Yotsukaido, Chiba Pref., from around 13:00 to 15:00. Local young men in loincloth who hold infants in their arms, step into the sacred muddy rice paddy and put a pinch of mud on their infants’ faces. It is believed to protect babies from harm. And then, the young men play ‘cavalry-type’ battles in the muddy rice paddy in prayer for a good harvest of the year. Access The JR Sobu Honsen Line to Yotsukaido Sta. (South Exit), and then walk 15 min.