February in Saitama. There are some exclusive events and seasonal traditions that you can enjoy in Japan in the month of February. Below is a list of 12 things you can do in Saitama in 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
- Participate in Setsubun
- Take in the Illumination
- Be awed by icicles
- View the Hina Dolls Displays
- Smell the wintersweet
- Ride through the Plum Blossoms
- Try your hand (feet!) at Ice Skating
- Watch animals in a hot spring
- Pick strawberries
- Indulge in a pop up cafe
- Celebrate Foundation Day
- Do Valentine’s the Japanese way
1.Participate in Setsubun
Date: February 2nd or 3rd
The only-in-Japan tradition of Setsubun is on February 3rd annually. However, in 2021 it falls on February 2nd for the first time in 124 years. 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. Moreover, there are many temples around Saitama where you can enjoy this fun and unique Japanese ritual.
One of the most famous places for Setsubun in Saitama is the highly entertaining setsubun event in Kazo. Two other popular spots are also featured on this blog. That is, Kitain Temple in Kawagoe and the other is Yakyu Inari shrine in Higashimatsuyama. But Kijin Temple in Ranzan is the most special place to celebrate this only in Japan event as it is the temple of demons!
2.Take in the Illumination
Date: until mid to end of February
If you haven’t already been, February is the last chance for many locations in Saitama. However, please note, a lot of the winter illumination typically ends on Valentine’s day.
Winter illumination spots that will end in February:
- Night Illumination at Tobu Hybrid Park
- Carnival Magic Box
- Cocoon City illumination
- Kawaguchi Illumination
- Sun City Illumination
- White Lantasia at Seibu Amusement park runs until early March (not on in 2021 as Seibuen is currently renovating)
- The Winter Illumination at Metsa Village also runs until early March
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.
Ashigakubo icicles are on view until the end of February. Moreover, they are normally lit up at weekends during this period. Misotsuchi icicles open to the public until mid February. Furthermore, they are lit up at night until around February 11th. When the light up is on at these places there are extended opening hours. Onouchi Hyakkei icicles do not have a fixed closing date. That is to say, it depends on the conditions. However, light up at the Onouchi Hyakkei icicles is usually for the first two weekends of February.
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. 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.Smell the Wintersweet
Date: January to February
Location: Nagatoro, Chichibu
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. But prime viewing in Saitama is late January to early February. There are wintersweet in various areas of Saitama. However, the Wintersweet gardens in Nagatoro are probably the most famous. The wintersweet are in the Hodosan Wintersweet Garden, which is accessible by hike or by ropeway.
The Nagatoro Wintersweet festival will be on until the end of the third week in February. Usually, for the last two days of the wintersweet festival you can also enjoy the first two days of the Mt Hodo plum blossom festival:
6.Ride through the Plum Blossoms
Date: mid February to mid March
Locations: Omiya, Ogose, Nagatoro
As I said above, the Nagatoro Mt Hodo Plum blossom festival overlaps with the wintersweet festival for one weekend. That’s the last weekend of the wintersweet festival and the first week of the plum blossom festival. But the plum blossom festival will then continue on until mid March. Other places renowned for plum blossoms (with festivals) in February in Saitama include, for example, Omiya Dai Ni Park and Ogose. During the latter (Ogose) children can enjoy a ride through the blossoms on a mini steam locomotive. There is also a plum blossom grove in Shinrin Park. But they don’t typically bloom until early March.
7.Try your hand (feet!) at Ice Skating
Date: until mid February
Saitama prefecture has several seasonal outdoor ice rinks. They are usually open to the public during the winter months. Most are artificial, with the only natural outdoor ice rink in Tokigawa (closed in 2021 on account of the coronavirus). That one closes earlier than the others in early February. Moreover, the popular artificial rink in Koshigaya Lake Town is also closed in 2021. However, Kawaguchi green center is open until around the end of February.
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 both the Saitama Children’s zoo and Chikozan Park zoo. The latter, Chikozan, also has a seasonal Japanese monkey onsen:
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:
9. Pick Strawberries
There aren’t that many places you can pick strawberries in Tokyo. But there are plenty of places you can enjoy this seasonal activity in Saitama. The post below shares some of the nicer places to pick strawberries in Western Saitama:
10.Indulge in a Pop up cafe
Pop up cafes are rare in Saitama. Normally, we have to travel into Tokyo to enjoy a limited period pop up cafe or restaurant. But for three weeks in February there is normally a rare opportunity to indulge in an exclusive cafe in Koshigaya. At Lake Town Koshigaya. In 2019 it was the Hamtaro (Hamutaro) cafe. In 2020, it was the Sailor Moon cafe. Its too early to tell yet, but I wonder what pop up cafe will come to Koshigaya in 2021!
—- 12 things to do in Saitama this February —-
11.Celebrate Foundation Day
National Foundation day, Kenkoku Kinen no Hi, celebrates the founding of Japan and subsequently the accession of the first emperor “Jimmu” on this day in 660 BC. There are normally several events on this day annually. For example, one of the more quintessentially traditional events on is Amazake. There are Amazake festivals in various locations in Saitama, but the one in Sayama City is particularly special. Kawagoe also has an amazake festival. The special feature of the one in Kawagoe is they also have a bow ceremony.
12.Do Valentine’s the Japanese way
Only women give to men on February 14th! Furthermore, in return, men give to women on White Day. (Apologies – I had this the wrong way round in the original post). 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.
Whatever you do in February, I hope you have a great one!