Festivals and Events for February 2017 in Japan

Festivals and Events for February 2016 in Japan
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Festivals and Events for February 2017 in Japan

February in Japan is the end of winter and typically one of the coldest months. It is a good time to go skiing or snowboarding, or just relax in a hot onsen. The plum blossoms start to bloom in February and are a wonderful prelude to the cherry blossoms of spring. There are quite a few traditional cultural festivals and events happening around this time of the year in Japan.

Here are a few of the most popular February festivals and events in Japan.

3 February 2017

Event: Setsubun
Location: All over Japan

Setsubun is a festival held on February 3 or 4 to celebrate the end of winter and the start of spring. It is also celebrated in ways to drive away evil spirits and bad luck and bring in good luck. It is custom on Setsubun for people of all ages to throw beans and shout ‘oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi’, which means ‘out with the demons, in with good luck’. Events are held at shrines throughout Japan and feature local personalities and celebrities throwing beans and prizes to the crowd. It is a great opportunity to visit a local shrine and join in on the festivities and events and experience Japanese culture first hand.

Read more about Setsubun

3-12 February 2017

Event: Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
Location: Otaru City, Hokkaido Prefecture
Time: The sites are lit daily from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Otaru Snow Light Path Festival is a spectacular winter festival that is held for 10 days to coincide with the famous Sapporo Snow Festival. Held in the romantic port town of Otaru near Sapporo, the festival has two main areas; the Otaru Canal Site and the Temiya Railway Line Site. The picturesque Otaru Canal with its nostalgic old stone and brick warehouses and Victorian-style gas lamps is the main attraction of the festival. The area is illuminated by soft flickering candle lit lanterns and small snow statues, creating an amazing winter atmosphere.

Official Website

5 & 6 February 2017

Event: Shirakawa-go Winter Illumination
Location: Shirakawa-go Village, Gifu Prefecture
Time: 17:30 – 19:30
Price of Admission: FREE

Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its gassho zukuri farmhouses. This place has been famous for years due to its steeply slanting thatched roof farmhouses, which look just like two hands joined together in prayer. The beauty of the village is raised to an even higher level when the houses are lit up in the snow during winter. Spotlights illuminate the snow-covered thatched roofs and surrounding grounds, which makes the village look like a magical winter wonderland straight out of a fairy tale.

Official Website

6-12 February 2017

Event: Sapporo Snow Festival
Location: Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture
Time: The ice sculptures are lit daily until 10:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido, is an annual snow festival which draws over 2 millions visitors every year. It is one of the largest winter events in Japan, and is also known as the “Sapporo Yuki Matsuri”. The festival is held each year in early February with dozens of large and elaborate ice and snow sculptures, as well as fun activities at its three venues. The event will be held from February 6-12 in 2017 with the amazing ice sculptures lit with an array of spotlights at night creating a winter wonderland.

Official Website

11 February 2017

Event: National Foundation Day (Kenkoku Kinen no Hi)
National Holiday

National Foundation Day or Kenkoku Kinen no Hi in Japanese, is a National Holiday celebrated annually on February 11. It celebrates the foundation of Japan and the accession of its first Emperor Jimmu. Customs on this day include raising the Japanese flag and reflecting on the meaning of Japanese citizenship.

14 February 2017

Event: Valentine’s Day
Location: All over Japan

Valentine’s Day in Japan is very different from anywhere else in the world. The date is the same, February 14th, but in Japan it is all about the chocolates. The tradition in Japan is for the girls to give chocolates to the boys. This tradition is said to have started back in the late 1950s, by a company called Mary Chocolate. They started an advertising campaign along the lines that Valentine’s Day is the only day of the year a woman can profess her love through presenting chocolate. The favour is returned to the girls on a special day called White Day, which is celebrated a month later on March 14th.

Read more about Valentines’s Day in Japan

15-16 February 2017

Event: Yokote Kamakura Festival
Location: Yokote City, Akita Prefecture
Time: The ice sculptures are lit daily until 10:00 pm
Price of Admission: FREE

The annual Yokote Kamakura Festival held in Yokote City in southeastern Akita has a history of over 400 years, and features spectacular igloo-like snow houses called kamakura in Japanese. The snow houses are built at various locations throughout the city, illuminating the streets and surrounding areas in spectacular fashion. The festival also features hundreds of mini kamakura illuminated by candles along the Yokote River creating a beautiful sea of lights.

Official Website

18 February 2017

Event: Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri
Location: Saidai-ji Temple, Okayama Prefecture
Time: Times vary according to the event (Main Event from 22:00)
Price of Admission: FREE

The most famous Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festival) in Japan is the Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri in Okayama. Every year thousands of men participate in the festival in hope of gaining good luck and being blessed with a year of happiness. The participants compete to get hold of two wooden sticks in which a deity is said to reside. The origins of the festival date back over 500 years and it is truly a unique cultural event.

Official Website

Festivals and Events for February 2017 in Japan

John Asano (91 Posts)

John Asano is a blogger, traveler and freelance writer living in Gifu, Japan. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, he has lived in Japan now for over 12 years. John loves nothing better than picking up his camera and exploring all the amazing sights and attractions that Japan has to offer. He writes about the must see sights and attractions in Japan at Japan Travel Advice, as well as about Japanese culture and modern life on his blog Japan Australia. You can read more of his work at http://japan-australia.blogspot.com/