Things to do in Japan in February
February is a studious month for pupils and students as it ends the last quarter of the academic year. It is also the season for university entrance exams, the most prestigious of which remaining very difficult to pass. Yet, February is quite a cheerful month where people are inclining toward relaxation.
February happens to be the second least visited month by foreigners, after January. National tourism compensates for this loss: winter breakers are mostly Japanese or expatriates. Therefore, the occupancy rate at lodging is high for skiing resorts, such as Hakuba, close to Nagano; Yusawa in Niigata region; and Niseko and Furano in Hokkaido island.
Climate and weather
As the last full winter month, February shows cold weather with average temperatures between 0 and 5°C (32°F to 41°F), and below 0°C (32°F) in the mountainous regions facing the Sea of Japan, where snow is abundant. With February's cloudier sky than January, the sunshine's duration is lower, while the humidity starts to slowly increase.
Progressively, the transition to spring 🌸 can be felt, with warmer temperatures in the south of the archipelago and also the first blossoming trees in some regions of Honshu, mostly on the Pacific coast.
National public holidays
The second month of the year has only one unworked public holiday:
- February 11 -- Birthday of Japan’s Foundation Day
- February 23 -- Mount Fuji Day and The Emperor's Birthday (Naruhito): Tennô Tanjôbi 天皇誕生日 (starting in 2020)
Other big national festivals are celebrated outside working hours:
- February 3 -- Setsubun, a festival involving throwing beans to celebrate the arrival of Spring
- February 22 -- 猫の日 neko no hi, National Cat Day in Japan
Top things to do
Skiing and other sliding sports remain a must. The season is at its top, with a white, thick coat of snow for several weeks that will only start to melt down from the next month. Moreover, thermal spas offer a great and warm break for hikers. Several events span the month: snow and ice festivals are at their fullest in the countryside, while popular festivals are coming back to the cities. It is also an occasion to celebrate the plum trees blossoming season during the ume matsuri, from the south to the north of Japan.
Below is a list of Japanese seasonal attractions and events in February:
Travel packing tips
A diverse range of clothing should be prepared. Warm sweaters, coats and waterproof clothes will protect visitors while they enjoy outdoor day trips. Also, hats and gloves are essential in case of wind, especially for children. Indoors and public transportation are sometimes overheated, so it is wise to uncover quickly and only keep on an isolating layer that will dry quickly.
Moisturizing creams must be used for hands and faces. It is recommended to take your own stock of tissues, as they are extremely thin in Japan, like those distributed as marketing gifts in the streets.