10 things to do in Saitama this February

Saitama February

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 10 things you can 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. All the places listed below are commutable from Tokyo and are ideal for a day trip from Tokyo.

February in Saitama

1.Participate in Setsubun

Date: February 3rd

Location: Various

The only-in-Japan tradition of Setsubun is on February 3rd annually. This year it is on a weekday for the first time in three years. Therefore, the events won’t be as packed as they are on the weekend. 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. There are many temples around Saitama where you can enjoy this fun and unique Japanese ritual.

Saitama February

One of the most famous places for Setsubun in Saitama is the highly entertaining setsubun event in Kazo. Two other popular spots featured on this blog are Kitain Temple in Kawagoe and Yakyu Inari shrine in Higashimatsuyama.

2.Take in the Illumination

Date: until mid to end of February

Location: Various

If you haven’t already been, February is the last chance for many locations in Saitama. Winter illumination typically ends on Valentine’s day.

Winter illumination spots that will end in February:

3.Be awed by Icicles

Date: until mid to end of February

Location: Chichibu

There are three renowned places to view icicles in Saitama: Ashigakubo, Misotsuchi and Onouchi Hyakkei Icicles. All are in the Chichibu area of Saitama. 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. They are lit up at weekends during this period. Misotsuchi icicles open to the public until mid February. 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. It is expected that you can see them until the first week of March. Light up at the Onouchi Hyakkei icicles is usually for the first two weekends of February.

4.Celebrate the Dolls’ Festival

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. 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. 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 are 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

Locations: Various

Saitama prefecture have 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. That one closes earlier than the others in early February. The artificial rink in Koshigaya Lake Town will be open until early March (weekends only). However, Kawaguchi green center closes toward 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:

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 linked event post below shares some of the more popular places to pick strawberries in Saitama:

https://insaitama.com/event/saitama-strawberry-picking/

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!

—- 10 things to do in Saitama this February —-

Other

There are other seasonal events in February in Saitama. For example, Valentine’s day is celebrated in Japan. However, only men give to women on February 14th! You will be able to enjoy seasonal Valentine’s events, such as Valentine’s dessert buffets, during early February.

Whatever you do in February, I hope you have a great one! If there are any February events you would like to recommend, please do share in the comments. Thank you 

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Lynda Hogan also writes for several Japan related websites such as City-cost.com and Japan Travel.

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2 comments on “10 things to do in Saitama this February

    1. L M N Post author

      Haha! We were camping in the Chichibu area yesterday and had great intentions to go see the naturally formed ones, but they are quite remote and are very far from where we were staying (even though all in “Chichibu”) so we didn’t make it. Next time! We did go to the Wintersweet garden at the top of Mt Hodo, the smell was divine! I don’t know why the other name for them is “Allspice” because they have a very sweet smell not spicy at all!!

      Reply

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