So you’re planning your travel and wondering: is February a good time to visit Japan? Indeed, winter in Japan is beautiful, especially for people looking to enjoy snow-covered landscapes, winter sports, dips in hot springs – or just aiming to get away during a quieter month!
Here, we’ll introduce what February is like in Japan, what the weather is like in Japan in February, what you can do in Japan in February, and so much more!
What is the weather like in Japan in February?
Temperatures in Japan vary a lot depending on the area and elevation. The average temperature in February is around 6°C (48.2°F). You can usually expect warmer hours during the day.
The Tokyo area has temperatures that go from around 11°C (51.8°F) to -1°C (30.2°F). You're usually going to enjoy a pretty mild weather (as long as you wear a layer or two).
Hokkaido is where temperatures can be really low (as low as -20°C (-4°F)). This region is in fact famous for its winter activities.
If you visit Okinawa, or Kyushu, you probably won't believe it's winter, since temperatures tend to be much higher.
What is the weather like in February in Tokyo?
Tokyo and its surrounding areas are the driest of Japan, in February, with a record of 70-75% sunny days. It only occasionally snows in Tokyo, so if you're visiting, don't worry about having to pack those winter boots.
What to pack for Japan in February? How to dress in Japan in February?
If you are going to Tokyo or some other of the warmer areas of Japan, there are only a few things to keep in mind when packing.
1. Pack for warmth: Winter jacket, hat, gloves, thick socks, long-sleeved shirts
While the temperatures are not very low, the wind can be occasionally very strong. Make sure you bring with you some nice sweaters, hats, and if you're particularly prone to feeling cold, some heavy socks.
It's unlikely you'll feel the need for snow coats, or very heavy boots, but it will certainly serve you to pack a wind jacket and a pair of gloves or two.
Something broadly used in Japan are the so called heat-tech shirts. These are clothes that are very warm but also very thin, making packing and travelling that much easier. They may or may not be available in your country, but if you want some, you'll find them virtually everywhere in Japanese clothing stores and department stores.
2. Visiting northern Japan? Bring heavier clothes.
You may opt, though, to go enjoy one of the most beautiful winters once can experience. In that case you'll visit the northern regions of Japan. Your suitcase will definitely need to fit some more stuff. Make sure to pack your regular clothes, but also heavy snow clothing, as well as snow boots, and possibly leg warmers.
Heavier socks and shirts are practically mandatory. If you go for areas famous for winter sports, regular hats and gloves might not do the trick, so pack some snow gloves and hats, as well as skiing pants and jackets.
If you go to Okinawa, you can pack as if you were preparing for a slightly cooler than average spring. Temperatures in the region average around 15°C (59°F), with peaks of 19°C and lowest temperatures of 11°C (66.2-51.8°F).
3. Comfortable sneakers or hiking boots
In any event, you will want comfortable footwear. As in any season in Japan, be prepared to walk - possibly much more than you are accustomed to in your home country.
4. Lip Balm (preferably with at least SPF 15)
Just because it's winter doesn't mean you can escape the UV! If you have particularly sensitive skin, also consider packing sunblock in your suitcase.
Especially if you will be visiting snowy areas, glare from the snow can be quite bright indeed. Sunglasses help considerably.
6. Spare phone/camera battery
Feel a little more sluggish when it's cold? So can your electronics! Low temperatures can cause batteries to discharge a little more quickly than they ordinarily would, so in order to keep powered up, bring a spare power bank to help keep your gear topped up.
What to do in Japan in February: Are you looking for snow or do you want to avoid it?
If you enjoy spending your winter surrounded by snow, you should visit Hokkaido, or the regions of Shirakawa-go and neighboring Gokayama (read on for a comprehensive list of fun activities to enjoy in February for you snow lovers).
1. Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
For those of you who enjoy spending time in beautiful snowy landscapes and sights, it will be hard to pass on these areas. These regions, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1995, are famous especially for their farmhouses, some of which are centuries old.
In Shirakawa you can visit many villages (the most popular of which is Ogimachi) in a peaceful and quiet setting. What's more you can truly get the best out of your stay by lodging in one of the many minshuku, traditional, family run, Japanese-style bed and breakfasts.
If you're feeling more adventurous and want to see some of the county's most uncontaminated locations, take a trip to Gokayama. Its many villages are virtually untouched by large modern buildings and offer a truly unique experience.
2. Hokkaido - Sapporo
The Hokkaido region and its main city of Sapporo, are arguably the most famous and popular when it comes to all that is winter.
If you enjoy winter sports, look no further. You'll find a large selection in Hokkaido regardless of your level of expertise, preference on location, or budget. But with ski resorts we are only scratching the surface of what Hokkaido has to offer in February.
The Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (Sapporo Snow Festival) takes place in February every year, over the span of 7 days. It's the largest winter festival in Japan, and one of the most attended ones among all Japanese festivals.
During the festival, the large Odori Park is the stage of tens of snow and ice sculptures, some of which so massive in size that resemble actual buildings. The best time to enjoy the sculpture is in the evening, when they are complemented by beautiful lights.
The festival also sets up areas for bob sliding and other snow activities. All of this is accompanied by a plethora of amazing street food and drinks.
The city of Asahikawa in Hokkaido also holds a winter festival (second only to the one in Sapporo) with sculptures, food and activities. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that the city is in the truest north of Japan and a lot of the attractions are set in beautiful plains overlooked by gorgeous mountains.
Did we mention that you'll also see a show of marching penguins in the streets of Asahikawa? This is part of the daily routine of the penguins homed at the Asahikawa Zoo and it's one of the cutest spectacles you'll ever see.
3. Hokkaido - Otaru
Another festival held in February (9th-18th) is the Otaru Snow Light Festival.
Also in Hokkaido, the city of Otaru is famous for this festival that lights up the streets with 120,000 candles glowing in the snow, creating a fable-like atmosphere. The people of Otaru often like to remind visitors that the festival aims at helping people leave their troubles behind and truly enjoy the moment, and unity with nature.
4. Chinese New Year
Let’s not forget, depending on the way the lunar calendar works out, that Chinese New Year is also often held in February! The occasion is celebrated in huge festivities in Japan’s major Chinatown areas in Yokohama and Kobe.
5. Other areas in Japan
There are a number of other festivals across Japan, like the Yokote Kamakura (February 15-16), in Akita (where you'll spend your time enjoying great food and landscapes while sitting in warm igloo); the Nagasaki Lantern (dates change slightly depending on the Chinese Lunar calendar) is one of the most beautiful to attend, while the ‘Naked Matsuri’ festival in Okayama (happening between the second and the third weeks of february) will probably be one of the most unique experiences of your trip.
Bear in mind however that as February 11 is a national holiday in Japan (Culture Day), the popular touristy spots are likely to become crowded.
What to do in Tokyo in February
This may surprise some, but there's so much to do and experience in Japan during the month of February that this list is actually only about some of our top picks.
What to do in Japan in February: Festivals are not the only thing February in Japan has to offer!
1. Plum and cherry blossom viewing in February
The season of the sakura blossoms is usually associated to the months of March and April in Japan, but that is a common misconception. You will be able to see cherry blossoms in February, and also the equally as beautiful plum blossoms.
Plum flowers start blooming at the beginning of February and they give a run for their money even to cherry blossoms, in term of beauty.
Some of the best places to admire these flowers are:
* Atami Baien plum garden in Atami
* Kitano Tenmangu Temple in Kyoto
* Sazuka Forest Garden in Mie
* Hanegi Park in Tokyo
* Kairakuen Park in Mito
In Tokyo you'll be able to catch plum blossoms in one of the most picture-perfect locations there are. The Yushima Tenjin Shrine is home of 300 beautiful plum trees and it's open from 08:00 to 09:30.
You're more of a cherry blossom person? While it's true that most areas of Japan start seeing the first flowers between March and April, you can admire gorgeous blossoms also starting in mid-February.
In particular, one of the best places to have your February hanami is Kawazu, south of Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture. Right near Atami station, however, is an excellent spot for viewing early-blooming cherry blossoms, along the small Itogawa river.
Let's not forget the traditional natural thermal Japanese baths, the onsen! The experience of an onsen is amazing all year round, but in winter it gains something special. Dipping yourself in warm, reinvigorating waters, while surrounded by a landscape of snow, has something magical that you can experience only in winter (and especially in February).
If you want to know more about onsen etiquette and some of the best locations around Japan to enjoy these baths take a look at the following link.
What to do in February in Tokyo
If you're visiting Tokyo in February, there's a world of things to do.
1. Check out the illuminated streets
The streets of Tokyo light up with beautiful illuminations during winter. In this sea of lights, though, there are some illumination decorations that shine brighter than others (pun intended).
The Caretta Shiodome Winter Illumination and Tokyo Dome City Winter Illumination never fail to impress with a number fantastic lights shaping tunnels, and embellishing the already suggestive streets.
2. Strawberry picking
Japanese strawberries are amazing, and many people in Japan are obsessed with them. February is one of the two best times of the year to enjoy strawberries, and there are a number of activities in and right outside Tokyo for those of you who want to enjoy a nice day picking strawberries, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
3. Check out one of the February festivals in Tokyo
One of the most important festivals in Japan is Setsubun, which takes place the day before the ‘official’ beginning of Spring according to the lunar calendar (February 3). During this festival, participants throw beans at colorful demons and spirits to fend them off. Especially for those visiting with families, this can be a fun and refreshing day for kids and adults alike.
4. Enjoy Tokyo entertainment and nightlife in February
Tokyo nightlife is well known all over the world, but some things you can experience only in February.
The famous Tokyo Tower opens its last floor every Friday, in February, for what it's called Tokyo Skytree Disco. Offering one of the most beautiful sights of the Tokyo skyline, this is truly a club night to remember.
There you have it! If you thought that the month of February would not be as amazing as March or April, to visit Japan, you probably have changed your mind.
Pack your winter clothes and plan your trip to an awesome Japan in February.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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