My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: January 19, 2024
February is packed with special events. In early February, you might even catch the tail end of some evening winter light-up displays around the city. February is also plum blossom season. Though cherry blossoms may be more famous, these earlier-blooming plum blossoms shouldn't be missed.
February weather in Tokyo is perfect for sightseers. February has an average temperature of about 6ºC (43°F), low levels of precipitation, and a balance of sunny and cloudy days. While it's still cold, snow falls only rarely. Wondering what to wear? Layered clothing is a good idea, as is a sturdy pair of shoes for enjoying the city on foot.
Held at the beginning of February, Setsubun marks the start of spring in Japan. It's a traditional custom that is still observed by many, either at home or at gatherings at shrines and temples.
The meaning behind the event is to welcome good fortune in the coming spring. If you'd like to see Setsubun for yourself, check out the festivals held at Okunitama-jinja Shrine, Sensoji Temple, or Zojoji Temple.
In Tokyo, plum blossom season begins in early February. These blossoms can range in color from pale pink to a pinkish cherry red. To celebrate this symbol of spring, plum blossom festivals are held all over the city. The best-known examples include the Setagaya Ume (Plum Blossom) Festival, Bunkyo Ume Matsuri (Plum Festival), and Kyodonomori Park Plum Festival.
In Japan, people give chocolate on Valentine's Day to express romantic interest. Some people also give chocolate to friends or colleagues as a token of gratitude. Others celebrate themselves by buying gourmet chocolate. Different people show different feelings depending on who they're giving a gift.
Try visiting a department store to look for a special treat. During the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, many stores offer beautiful displays of chocolates from around the world. You're sure to find some that are to your liking.
There are twelve animals in the East Asian zodiac, one of which is the horse. Each day of the year is assigned a zodiac animal in order, starting from January 1. On February's first "horse" day, people gather at Inari shrines across Japan to pray for good harvests in a celebration known as Hatsuuma-sai, or the First Day of the Horse. In Tokyo, you can take part in this celebration at Mabashi Inari Shrine. Festivities include traditional ceremonies and music, as well as mochi-making.
Since 1967, the Ohme Road Race has blazed a trail by allowing anyone to participate as a runner. Each February, the race is brimming with energy. Everyone from internationally ranked professionals to high school students and 70-year-old veterans gather from around the country to run alongside each other. They're divided into a 30-km group and 10-km group to engage in fierce competition. Spectators can enjoy this gripping race up close.
Oji Inari Shrine has hosted a "kite market" since the Edo period (1603-1868). At that time, Tokyo experienced frequent and devastating outbreaks of fire. Kites were known as "fire-preventing kites" because they cut through the wind that causes fires. Oji Inari Shrine's kite market originally sold these kites as fire-repelling charms.
The market is held in February, on dates designated as "days of the horse" by the lunar calendar. Over two days, more than 50,000 people attend.
Kasai Rinkai Park boasts great views of Tokyo Bay and sometimes Mt. Fuji. It's made even more scenic by the narcissus blooms each February. This narcissus festival is the largest of its kind in Tokyo's public parks.