Don’t let winter keep you from getting out and enjoying some of the festivals & events planned for February – there are many (see below)! Please be sure to double-check dates and times as my source information online is sometimes incorrect/out of date.
1/11-3/8 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.
1/25 – 2/8 Shunsetsu, Chinese New Year, Chinatown, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture. Various events scheduled. 2/1 & 2/2 performances from 13:00-17:00. 2/8 Lantern festival from 13:00 – 19:00. 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.
1/26-3/22 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).
2/1 – 3/1 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.
2/1 – 3/8 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
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.
2/8 Hari-kuyo, or memorial services for used, broken needles and pins, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo. 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 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.
2/8-3/1 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.
2/8-3/1 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.
2/9 & 2/21 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
2/10-3/10 Kawazu-zakura Matsuri, or Cherry Blossom Festival in Kawazu, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture. A festival celebrating the early blooming Kawazu-zakura (Kawazu cherry blossoms). Blooming trees line the Kawazu River. Enjoy live entertainment, food and souvenir stalls, etc. 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.
2/11 NHK Fukushima O-zumo, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Sumida Ward, Tokyo. Sumo for charity. 13:00-17:30. Some matches as well as demonstrations of wrestling styles and some comical sumo bouts for entertainment are featured. Tickets range from 2,600JPY to 8,700JPY. The advance tickets are sold at Ticket Pia and convenience stores. For further information, please call Hello Dial (in English) at 03-5777-8600 (8:00-22:00). The venue is open at 12:10. Access: JR Sobu Line to Ryogoku Sta. (West Exit), and then walk 2 min. (2) Toei Oedo Subway Line to Ryogoku Sta. (E12)(Exit A3), and then walk 5 min.
2/11. Kenkoku Kinen-no-hi Hoshuku Parade, Meiji Jingu Gaien & Shrine and nearby, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. Celebration on National Foundation Day. The parade of a brass band and cars decorated with flowers starts from Jingu-Gaien Icho Namiki Street, proceeding along Aoyama-dori Street and Omote-Sando Street where Mikoshi join the parade, and then reaches Meiji-jingu Shrine. 9:40-12:30. Access: 1) Meiji Jingu-Gaien: Tokyo Metro Ginza or Hanzomon Line or Toei Oedo Subway Line to Aoyama- Itchome Sta. (G04, Z03, E24) (Exit 1), and then walk 5 min. 2) Meiji-jingu Shrine: JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku Sta.(Omote-sando Exit), or Tokyo Metro Chiyoda or Fukutoshin Line to Meiji-Jingumae Sta. (C03, F15)(Exit 2), and then walk 5 min.
2/15-3/29. 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).
2/16 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.