It can be hard going outside in February; the coldest month of the year. But, February is the ideal time for off-season holidays within Japan once the peak season of the New Year period has ended! Enjoy the seasonal delights of this cold period – such as snow landscapes and hot springs, even the first signs of spring can be found in places. This article will introduce the beautiful landscapes viewable during February. 1. Sapporo Snow Festival (Hokkaido) ｜This internationally acclaimed festival is one of the top 3 snow festivals of the world! This huge Japanese festival; held between January 31st, 2019 and February 11th, 2019, celebrates its 70th year this year. It is one of the top 3 grand snow festivals of the world, alongside the Harbin Ice Festival in China, and the Québec Winter Carnival in Canada. The festival takes place over 3 different venues, with Odori Park being the main one. Each of the different venues has a completely different concept. Visitors to this festival will never tire of what’s on display! What’s more is that there are an abundance of events which take place after sunset as well – such as illuminations and projection mapping. Food stalls selling a variety of cuisines from across the globe can be found in Odori Park – a suitable place for this internationally acclaimed festival. 【Sapporo Snow Festival】Here for details 2.Minami no Sakura Cherry Blossoms (Shizuoka) ｜Why not enjoy some of the earliest blooming cherry blossoms of Japan in Minami-Izu? Lots of people often think; “I want to go on holiday during the cherry blossom season”. Did you know that the cherry blossoms of Minami-Izu are one of the first to bloom due to its warm climate and abundance of nature? Travel to this area in February, and enjoy the cute pink cherry blossoms alongside yellow rape blossom flowers! The contrast is stunning! The Minami Cherry Blossom and Rape Blossom Festival is Geld from February 10th, 2019 (Sun) to March 10th, 2019 (Sun) this year. This festival is timed perfectly every year to ensure both flowers bloom together. The cherry blossoms are magnificently illuminated at night, and visitors can even try the area’s delicious specialty of Ise-ebi (Japanese spiny lobster) miso soup! 【Best Time 】 Late February - Early March 【Minami no Sakura Cherry Blossoms】Here for details 3.Yokote Kamakura Festival (Akita) ｜Seeing the numerous kamakura igloos shine out against the snow: A scene unique to the snowy regions of Japan Spend a magical night in this fairytale-like world in Akita during February! Yokote City; the city with the most snowfall in Akita Prefecture, has been home to walls made of snow for about 450 years. Kamakura (Japanese snow igloos) are adorned with new year decorations and offerings for the healthy growth of children. Before we know it, the culture of children going inside these Kamakura’ stories to eat mochi (pounded rice cake) and drink Amazake (sweet sake) was born! The German architect; Bruno Taut visited the area in 1936. It is said that he greatly admitted the area, saying; “I have never seen anything so beautiful”. The Yokote Snow Festival is still well-known for via the poetry of Michinoku. A photography event will also be held here on February 14th, as well as events such as the “Mini Kamakura” and “Kamakura: A 450-year Tradition”, expected to be held on February 15th and 16th. 【Yokote Kamakura Festival】Here for details 4. Osaka Castle Park (Osaka) ｜Enjoy plum blossoms before Osaka Castle; the leading plum blossom viewing spot in the Kansai region! Osaka Castle Park boasts the largest plum blossom forest in the whole of western Japan. Approx. 1,270 plum blossoms of 100 different types all bloom profusely here during mid-January. The scene of white, red, and pink flowers all blooming together in unison really is something else. The scene is alive with color! What’s more – visitors can even appreciate the impressive castle tower of Osaka Castle alongside the beautiful plum blossoms! Face the other direction and visitors will be greeted with the magnificent scene of plum blossoms before a skyscraper backdrop. Both of these scenes are breathtakingly beautiful and can only be seen during this cold season! 【Best Time】Late February – Early March 【Osaka Castle Park】Here for details 5. Nagasaki Lantern Festival (Nagasaki) ｜Where on earth is this? Celebrate the coming of spring with this magical lantern festival. Some feel like they have travelled to a different country when they come to Nagasaki. After all, a different air blows here, the only city where foreign trade was permitted during Japans period of national isolation. Dutch culture from the West and Chinese culture from the east both intersect in Nagasaki; a city which boasts a multicultural history – a rarity in Japan. The Nagasaki Lantern Festival has its origins in “Spring Festival”, a New Year celebration in the Chinese calendar. This year the festival will be held from February 5th, 2019 to February 19th, 2019. Around 15,000 lanterns and art objects will decorate the area during this period, as well as various Chinese traditional arts such as dragon dances, the two-stringed Chinese fiddle, and Chinese acrobats, among others. You’ll no doubt question if you really are in Japan during this magical period! 【Nagasaki Lantern Festival】Here for details 6. Nada Kuroiwa Fairyland (Hyogo) ｜5-million narcissus flowers bloom besides the sparkling Seto Inland Sea While there may be lots of other beautiful flowery landscapes, you’ll find it hard to come across another field blooming full of narcissus flowers! The early spring blooming of narcissus flowers are a seasonal tradition of Awaji Island. Narcissus flower bulbs floating in the sea from overseas where planted here by local fishermen in the Edo period (1603-1868). Today there are 5-million narcissus flowers all blooming together on one side of this hill; which spans approx. 700 hectares! It is truly refreshing to see the yellow and whites of the narcissus flowers against the sparkling warm waters of the Seto Inland Sea. A great sight to see – only in February! 【Best Time】Mid-January – Early February 【Nada Kuroiwa Fairyland】Here for details 7. Nozawa Onsen Pilgrimage｜Nagano ｜Enjoy Shinshu-no-Yu hot springs to the full in one of Japans most snowiest regions No winter trip is complete without a hot spring! Nozawa Hot Springs; home to a ski ground famous for having one of the heaviest snowfalls in the region, is said to have been established as far back as the Nara period (710-794). There are public baths (commonly referred to as “Outdoor Springs”) located in 13 different places in Nozawa Hot Spring Village? All of which are free to bathe in and are filled via the spring source itself. Although free, a donations box is located at every outdoor spring, so please donate a little if you can. Located in the center of the village lies “Oyu”, a hot spring which still displays the charm of the Edo period (1603-1868) via its beautiful building. It is the representative of all the outdoor baths in Nozawa Hot Spring Village. While the temperature of each spring varies, a temperature of over 40℃ will warm you up nicely. The snowy landscape may be cold, but once inside the hot springs, you will be nicely warm! The spring quality and efficacy of each of the 13 hot springs also differ; don’t forget to make a mental note of which hot spring is good for what during a walk around the village! 【Nozawa Onsen Pilgrimage】Here for details Did you find anything which takes your fancy? It’s possible to enjoy both winter and spring at the same time during this period – so don’t let the cold stop you from going out and seeing it for yourself!