February in Saitama, 2023. There are some exclusive events and seasonal traditions that you can enjoy in Japan in the month of February. Between 2020 and 2022 there was slightly less to do, as many of the special / seasonal events didn’t go ahead. But the situation is much better in 2023, with a lot more on than in the last three years. Accordingly, I have updated his post with 12 things you can do in Saitama this February. Each idea has a few examples so there are over 25 places listed and mapped. Some of these events are only available during this month or for a limited period. In addition, all the places listed below are commutable from Tokyo and are ideal for a day trip from Tokyo.
February in Saitama
- Celebrate the holidays
- Take in the Illumination
- Be awed by icicles
- View the Hina Dolls Displays
- Hanami under winter blossoms
- Ride through the Plum Blossoms
- Try your hand (feet!) at Ice Skating
- Watch animals in a hot spring
- Pick strawberries
- Hang out at Saitama’s entertainment town
- Play in some artificial snow
- Take a toasty kotatsu boat down the Arakawa
1.Celebrate Setsubun and the public holidays
Date: February 3rd, 11th, 14th and 23rd
The only-in-Japan tradition of Setsubun is on February 3rd annually. One of the customs of Setsubun is to catch beans for good luck at a temple. Several of the larger temples also throw other goodies such as amulets and even money. However, in 2022 and 2021 many were cancelled on account of the Coronavirus. And unfortunately in 2023 they are not all coming back, yet, but there are several on this year for the first time in three years. Here are a few that are confirmed for 2023:
- The most famous; setsubun event in Kazo
- Kitain Temple in Kawagoe
- Naritasan in Kawagoe
- Yakyu Inari in Higashimatsuyama
- Musashino Reiwa Shrine in Tokorozawa
And here are some resources to enjoy a “mamemaki” festival at home.
There are two national holidays in February in Japan. February 11th is National Foundation day and February 23rd is the Emperor’s birthday. There are usually dozens, if not hundreds, of events on for these national holidays. However, some of them will not go ahead in 2023. The sweet potato expo is one of the most popular events on the Emperor’s birthday. Normally, I also share information here for the various amazake events on, on February 11th, but at the moment the ones I’ve checked are cancelled, or by invite only, in 2023.
Only women give to men on February 14th! Furthermore, in return, men give to women on White Day, which is March 14th. For the lead up to Valentine’s and sometimes the other side of Valentine’s day also, you can enjoy Valentine’s dessert buffets in restaurants and hotels around the prefecture. One of the more popular ones, for example, is at Shikitei Restaurant in Omiya. You can also get a Strawberry Afternoon Tea at Kawagoe Prince Hotel.
This year, 2023, Pancake Tuesday will also fall on a date in February. Japan doesn’t really celebrate Pancake Tuesday, but here is some places you can enjoy delicious pancakes and a recipe to make your own pancakes with a Japanese twist.
2.Take in the Illumination
Date: until mid or end of February
If you haven’t already been, February is the last chance for illumination many locations in Saitama. However, please note, a lot of the winter illumination typically ends on Valentine’s day. Seibuen Amusement Park’s “Memories of Light” illumination runs for the longest. It will be on until April 9th. Another one you can see until the end of February is the illumination at Sun City in Koshigaya. The illumination in Toda City will also run until February 28th. Here’s even more that run until mid February.
3.Be awed by Icicles
Date: until mid to end of February
There are three renowned places to view icicles in Saitama: Ashigakubo, Misotsuchi and Onouchi Hyakkei Icicles. Furthermore, all are in the Chichibu area of Saitama. Moreover, this seasonal natural phenomena can only be seen in January and February each year. They each have a night light up event too on specific dates during the open season. In previous years, the Onouchi Icicles were open until the end of February, but this year all three of the icicles will finish earlier. Onouchi and Misotsuchi will finish on February 19th and Ashigakubo icicles on the 23rd. There is a possibility they will extend the period, if the conditions are good.
4.View the Hina Dolls’ displays
Date: mid February to mid March
Location: Konosu and various
The doll’s festival is celebrated annually on girl’s day, March 3rd. However, several tourist spots start showing their Japanese dolls, “hina”, from early to mid February. The Iwatsuki Dolls Festival in the dolls town, will start on February 23rd. Moreover, Saitama is home to the largest doll pyramid in the world. In Konosu you can see this aptly named “surprising dolls’ festival” pyramid display from the middle of February:
5.Hanami under winter blossoms
Date: January to March
Hanami means to picnic under flowers. In February there are three main type of tree blossoms you can see. They are early blooming cherry blossoms called Kawazuzakura, wintersweet and plum blossoms. Plum blossoms are featured in the next paragraph. The Kawazuzakura are a beautiful fluffy pink cherry blossom that you can start to see around mid to late February into early March. Here are 10 places for kawazuzakura in Saitama Prefecture, including the Insta-famous Washinomiya kawazu cherry blossoms:
Wintersweet, roubai in Japanese, is a tree that blooms in winter. You can usually start seeing and smelling the beautiful yellow bloom from early January, in some places even mid December. But prime viewing for many groves in Saitama is late January to early February. However, the Wintersweet gardens in Nagatoro are probably the most famous. Here are 9 other places to see wintersweet in Saitama:
6.Ride through the Plum Blossoms
Date: mid February to mid March
The most famous plum blossom grove in Saitama is in Ogose. During the festival children can enjoy a ride through the blossoms on a mini steam locomotive. Other places renowned for plum blossoms (with festivals) in February in Saitama include, for example, Omiya Dai Ni Park and Nagatoro. There is also a plum blossom grove in Shinrin Park. Here’s even more places to see plum blossoms in Saitama Prefecture:
7.Try your hand (feet!) at Ice Skating
Date: until mid February
Locations: Saitama City and Tokigawa Town
Saitama prefecture normally has several seasonal outdoor ice rinks. They are usually open to the public during the winter months. However, in 2022 and 2023, there are only two ice rinks open that I know of. One artificial one – the very popular ice rink at Numakage – and one natural outdoor ice rink in Tokigawa. The latter’s closing date is based on the conditions. Normally it runs until at least mid February. But in 2022 it ended on February 6th.
8.Watch Animals in onsens
Another of the ongoing winter events in Saitama is the animal hot springs. You can see Capybara enjoying an onsen in three of Saitama’s zoos and monkeys in two. Saitama Children’s zoo capybara onsen is probably the most popular. There are no monkeys in the Saitama Children’s zoo, but there are in both Tobu Zoo and Chikozan Park zoo. Both of those have both a monkey and capybara onsen. However, Chikozan Park Zoo only has both the monkeys and capybara on weekends, and they alternate on weekdays:
Of course, it is also a great month to indulge in one yourself! Why not try one of these award winning hot springs in Saitama:
- Ofuro Cafe Bivouac | KUMAGAYA
- Retro Tamagawa Hot springs and Sento | TOKIGAWA
- Relaxing Natural Hot Spring, Seine no Yu, in Chichibu
9. Pick Strawberries
There are hundreds of places you can pick strawberries in Saitama. Some of them are conveniently located close to train stations. If you are taking a day trip to Chichibu to see the icicles or for the wintersweet etc, you can find some places to pick strawberries too. However, since the pandemic began, most of them require an advance booking. Information for some strawberry farms in Western Saitama in the following article:
10.Hang out in Saitama’s entertainment town
Tokorozawa Sakura Town is Saitama’s newest entertainment town. It opened in November 2020. There is so much to do in the town and the line up changes frequently. The two main attractions of the town are the permanent outdoor Teamlab exhibition and Kadokawa Culture Museum. However, the latter, Kadokawa Culture Museum has several of its own attractions. For example, the Grand Gallery, the Bookshelf Theater and EJ Anime Museum. In February 2023 two new exhibitions will start – TAGUKORE: Dunno a Thing about Art (But I like it) at Kadcul and a Snoopy exhibition. Moreover, if you are looking for somewhere cool to stay in Japan, check out the EJ Anime Hotel at the town:
11.Play in some artificial snow!
Saitama Prefecture rarely gets snow, but in winter we can enjoy an artificial semi-indoor snow land in Tokorozawa City! It was originally opened as a skiing ground, but since 2020 it also has a snow park for kids. They hold several events during the day, including snowball fights! Located close to a station and on the border of Tokyo it is a very popular place for enjoying ‘snow’ on the weekend.
12.Take a toasty kotatsu boat down the Arakawa
February may not sound like a great time for a boat ride, but in the months of January and February only, the Line Kudari boats in Nagatoro have kotatsu on them. A kotatsu is a low table with a heater under the tabletop. You can keep nice and warm while you take a scenic ride down Saitama’s most popular river – the Arakawa.
—- 12 things to do in Saitama this February —-
Whatever you do in February, I hope you have a great one!
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