Return to site

Event Roundup: February 2020

Snow festivals! (Plus alternatives in case the weather's too warm)

· Events,Winter

1. Fukushima Sake Festival & Miso Soy Sauce Festival

ふくしまの酒まつり、味噌醤油まつり

February 1

Koriyama, Fukushima

In 2019, Fukushima sakes won the most golds at the Japan Sake Awards for a record-breaking seventh year in a row! Come taste what all the fuss is about. Originally this festival was scheduled to take place in October in Fukushima City, but had to be postponed and relocated due to Typhoon Hagibis.

A celebration of Japan's most popular fermented foods, the Miso and Soy Sauce Festival will be held in conjunction with the sake fest. Naturally, there will be food booths selling lots dishes incorporating these ingredients and other local cuisine, providing some much needed sustenance for a day of sake sampling.

Hours: 11:00–18:00

Admission: Free

Official event page: fukunosake.com

Location: Big Palette Fukushima (ビッグパレットふくしま). Map here.

Access: 18-minute walk from Asakanagamori Station. Bus service from Koriyama Station (郡山駅) is also available. See here for timetable.

2. Miyagi Marugoto Horoyoi Shinsake Festival

宮城まるごとほろ酔い新酒まつり

February 12
Matsushima, Miyagi

Taste sake from breweries all over Miyagi at this fun event. Stroll the scenic Matsushima Bay area while tasting fine local sake. To participate, purchase a set of tasting tickets, then visit the participating local shops and tourist facilities (Hotel Ubudo, Komatsukan, and The Museum Matsushima to name a few) to exchange your tickets for drinks. The festival also features a stamp rally where you can collect a stamp for each brewery's sake you sample. On February 2, the Matsushima Oyster festival (#9 below) will be taking place nearby—what a paring!

Time: Varies by shop. As early as 9:00, as late as 23:30.

Fee: Free admission, tasting tickets ¥1,000 for a set of 5

Reservations: Not necessary

Details: matsushima-kanko.com

Location: Various shops around the Matsushima Bay sightseeing district. Map here (Matsushimakaigan Station is pinned).

Access: A short walk from Matsushimakaigan Station

3. Igloo Festival at Michinoku Park

かまくらまつり

through February 11

Kawasaki, Miyagi

A winter festival at Michinoku Park, a expansive public park in rural southern Miyagi. The main attraction of this particular event are the kamakura, small Japanese-style igloos. Visitors can also participate in various snow country experiences: mochi pounding, dressing up in historical snow gear, and more!

Time: 9:00–16:00

Park admission: ¥450 adults, ¥210 seniors, children ages junior high & younger free

Details: michinoku-park.info

Location: Kokuei Michinoku Mori no Kohan Park (国営みちのく杜の湖畔公園)

Access: 80 minutes from Sendai Station by Akiu・Kawasaki Sendai Seibu Liner bus (秋保・川崎 仙台西部ライナー). Board bus bound for Kawasaki-machi (かわさきまち) from Sendai Station Bus Stop 63. Alight at Michinoku Koenguchi (みちのく公園口). See timetable here.

4. Chocolat Marche

チョコラマルシェ

through February 14

Central Sendai

A pop-up chocolate market featuring specialty chocolates from top producers around Japan. In addition to the chocolates, a variety of limited-edition soft serve ice creams will also be on sale.

Hours: 10:00–19:30

Admission: Free

Official page: fujisaki.co.jp

Location: Fujisaki department store (藤崎), floor 7. Map here.

Access: Next to Aoba-dori Ichibancho Station

5. Matsushima Oyster Nabe Cruise

かき鍋クルーズ

Matsushima & Shiogama, Miyagi

Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, & holidays through March 8

Marubun Kisen, the company that runs the Matsushima Bay sightseeing cruises, offers a special oyster nabe cruise in winter. Enjoy oyster nabe (hot pot) made with with Sendai miso, plus fried oysters and rice—all while taking in the scenery on a cruise between Matsushima and Shiogama.

Time: 11:30–12:20 or 13:00–13:50

Fee: ¥3,500 adults, ¥2,250 children (Cruise is one-way, but fee includes free return ticket)

Reservations: Required, can book online

Official website & booking: marubun-kisen.com

Details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: runs between Marine Gate Shiogama (マリンゲート塩釜) and Marubun Matsushima Sightseeing Boat pier (丸文松島汽船). Maps here and here.

Access (Marine Gate Shiogama): 10-minute walk from Hon-Shiogama Station 

Access (Matsushima sightseeing boat pier): 6-minute walk from Matsushimakaigan Station

6. The Beauty of Ainu Handiwork

アイヌの美しき手仕事

through March 15

Central Sendai

Ainu culture is expressed in their handicrafts, items used in everyday life, yet which nonetheless exhibit stunning craftsmanship and beauty. This aspect of Ainu culture that fascinated Yanagi Soetsu, the founder of Japan's Mingei Movement. At this special exhibition, around 250 items of Ainu craft, carefully selected by Yanagi Soetsu and Serizawa Keisuke, will be displayed.

Hours: 9:30–17:00 (last entry 16:30)

Closed days: Mondays & February 25

Admission: ¥1,000 adults, ¥800 university students, ¥500 children ages elementary to high school

Details (English): pref.miyagi.jp

Location: Miyagi Prefectural Museum of Art (宮城県美術館). Map here.

Access: 5-minute walk from International Center Station

7. Snowland in Heilsam Kurikoma

スノーランド イン ハイルザーム栗駒

Through March 15

Kurihara, Miyagi

A snow-play event at a large onsen facility on the slopes of Mount Kurikoma. Offers casual, fun snow activities, including snowcat rides, snowmobile rental, and sledding. Feel free to come empty handed—sleds and other snow play gear are available for rental on-site. After playing in the snow, warm up with a warm onsen bath or a swim in the heated pool inside.

Hours: 10:00–15:00

Fees: free admission & snowcat rides, snowmobile rental ¥1,000 per 10 minutes

Reservation: Not necessary

Details: eeonsen.com

Location: Heilsam Kurikoma (くりこま高原温泉郷ハイルザーム栗駒). Map here.

Access: Free shuttle bus on Sundays from Kurihara City Koma Sougou Shisho (栗原市栗駒総合支所).

8. Sanriku・Ofunato Camellia Festival

三陸・大船渡 つばきまつり

through March 22

Ofunato, Iwate

It's peak camelia season in Ofunato! This is the best time of year to see camellias in bloom at the World Camellia Museum. Special events will be held on Sundays, like taiko drum performances and camellia oil massages, plus workshops where visitors can press their own oil from camellia seeds, make their own camellia-based beauty products, and more! There will also be food stalls offering camellia-driven cuisine most Sundays: specialties such as camellia tea, camellia crepes, and savories smoked with camellia.

Hours: 9:00–17:00

Admission: ¥500 adults & high school students, ¥300 children ages elementary to junior high

Closed days: None during festival period

Details: city.ofunato.iwate

Details (English): facebook.com

Location: World Camelia Museum (世界の椿館). Map here.

Access: 45 minutes by bus from Sakari Station. From the Sakari Station (盛駅前) bus stop, board Goishi Line (碁石線) bus bound for Goishi Kaigan (碁石海岸). Alight at Goishi Kaigan (碁石海岸) bus stop. Timetable here.

9. Matsushima Oyster Festival

松島かき祭り

February 2

Matsushima, Miyagi

A festival celebrating Matsushima's local oysters, rumored to be some of the best in Japan! Enjoy oysters in a variety of preparations: steamed, fried, in soup, and more! There will also be a free onsen foot bath set up on the premises, courtesy of the Matsushima onsen association. A sake festival (#2 above) will be taking place nearby at at the same time—what a pairing!

Hours: 10:00–14:00

Admission: Free

Details: miyagi-kankou.or.jp

Location: Matsushima-kaigan Green Plaza (松島海岸グリーン広場). Map here.

Access: Across the street from Matsushimakaigan Station

10. Akiu Shrine Setsubun

秋保神社節分祭

February 2

Akiu area, Sendai

Setsubun is the day before the beginning of spring according to the traditional Japanese calendar. In honor of the coming of spring, purification rituals are held at shrines and as community events across Japan. One of the most common and fun of these rituals is mamemaki, where people throw roasted soybeans at others dressed as demons, while shouting “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (lit. “Demons out! Good luck in!”). At many setsubun events, shrine priests or community leaders also toss small gifts to the audience, packages of mochi, beans snacks, or lottery numbers to be redeemed for bigger prizes.

This setsubun festival takes place at Akiu Shrine, a 1,200 year old shrine that enshrines Suwa, the god of victory.

Time: 14:30~

Admission: Free

Details: miyagi-kankou.co-jp

Location: Akiu Shrine (秋保神社). Map here.

Access: A short walk from the Akiu Jinja-mae (秋保神社前) bus stop.

11. Shiogama Shrine Setsubun

鹽竈神社節分祭

February 23

Shiogama, Miyagi

Setsubun is the day before the beginning of spring according to the traditional Japanese calendar. In honor of the coming of spring, purification rituals are held at shrines and as community events across Japan. One of the most common and fun of these rituals is mamemaki, where people throw roasted soybeans at others dressed as demons, while shouting “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (lit. “Demons out! Good luck in!”). At many setsubun events, shrine priests or community leaders also toss small gifts to the audience, packages of mochi, beans snacks, or lottery numbers to be redeemed for bigger prizes.

This setsubun festival takes place at the grand Shiogama Shrine, located on a steep hill overlooking Matsushima Bay.

Admission: Free

Details: shiogamajinja.jp

Location: Shiogama Shrine (鹽竈神社). Map here.

Access: 13-minute walk from Hon-Shiogama Station

12. Osaki Hachimangu Setsubun

大崎八幡宮の節分

February 3

Central Sendai

Setsubun is the day before the beginning of spring according to the traditional Japanese calendar. In honor of the coming of spring, purification rituals are held at shrines and as community events across Japan. One of the most common and fun of these rituals is mamemaki, where people throw roasted soybeans at others dressed as demons, while shouting “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (lit. “Demons out! Good luck in!”). At many setsubun events, shrine priests or community leaders also toss small gifts to the audience, packages of mochi, beans snacks, or lottery numbers to be redeemed for bigger prizes.

This setsubun festival takes place at Osaki-Hachimangu Shrine, an ornate shrine designated a National Treasure.

Time: 15:00~

Admission: Free

Details: oosaki-hachiman.or.jp

Location: Osaki-Hachimangu Shrine (大崎八幡宮). Map here.

Access: 45-minutes from Sendai Station by bus. Board Loople Sendai bus at Sendai Station West Exit Bus Pool stop 16. Alight at bus stop 12 Osaki Hachimangu Shrine. Bus info & timetable here (English).

13. Nonaka Shrine Setsubun Festival

野中神社節分祭

February 3

Central Sendai

Setsubun is the day before the beginning of spring according to the traditional Japanese calendar. In honor of the coming of spring, purification rituals are held at shrines and as community events across Japan. One of the most common and fun of these rituals is mamemaki, where people throw roasted soybeans at others dressed as demons, while shouting “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (lit. “Demons out! Good luck in!”). At many setsubun events, shrine priests or community leaders also toss small gifts to the audience, packages of mochi, beans snacks, or lottery numbers to be redeemed for bigger prizes.

This Setsubun event takes place at Nonaka Shrine, a small shrine located in the heart of Sendai, where the Setsubun celebration pours out into the nearby Sunmall Ichibancho shopping arcade.

Time: 12:30~

Admission: Free

Details: machi-kuru.com

Location: Nonaka Shrine (野中神社). Map here.

Access: 4-minute walk from Aoba-dori Ichibancho Station

14. Aizu Painted Candle Festival

会津絵ろうそくまつり

February 78

Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima

 

About 15,000 hand-painted candles are nestled in the snow at historic locations around town, like Tsurugajo Castle and Oyakuen Gardens. Enjoy views of these scenic spots by candelight. The candles are all one-of-a-kind, hand-painted in traditional Aizu fashion or set in handmade bamboo votives.

Hours: 17:30–21:00

Festival fee: None

Admission (Tsurugajo Castle): ¥410 adults, ¥150 children

Admission (Oyakuen): ¥330 adults, ¥270 high school students, ¥160 children ages elementary to junior high 

Details: aizu.com

Location: Tsurugajo Castle Park (鶴ヶ城公園) and Oyaku-en (御薬園). Maps here and here.

Access (Tsurugajo): 20 minutes by Haikara-san or Akabe bus from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station, followed by a 7-minute walk. Alight at Tsurugajo Iriguchi (鶴ヶ城入口) bus stop. Bus info & timetable here (English).

Access (Oyakuen): 30 minutes by Haikara-san bus from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station. Alight at Oyaku-en (御薬園) bus stop. Bus info & timetable here (English).

15. Jogi Snow Festival

定義雪まつり

February 8

Jogi area, Sendai

*NOTICE: Due to lack of snow, this year's Jogi Snow Festival has been cancelled. For details and updates, see the Jogi Sightseeing Association Facebook Page.*

A winter festival in Jogi, a temple area hidden deep in the mountains of western Sendai. Unlike most of Sendai, the Jogi area typically gets ample snow. Various snow-play events will be set up, and the beautiful five-storied pagoda of Jogi Saihoji Temple will be illuminated that night.

Hours: 9:30–15:00 (snow festival), 17:00–19:00 (pagoda light-up)

Admission: Free

Details: miyagi-kankou-or.jp

Location: Jogi Saijoji Nyorai Temple (定義西方寺如来) & vicinity. Map here.

Access: 80 minutes by bus from Sendai Station (仙台駅). From Sendai Station West Exit Bus Stop #10, board an 844, 845, or 846 Line bus bound for Jogi (定義). Alight at Jogi, the final stop. Timetable here.

16. Uesugi Snow Lantern Festival

上杉雪灯まつり

February 89

Yonezawa, Yamagata

A lively snow festival boasting interactive snow sculptures and hundreds of lanterns made from snow. A Shinto ceremony also takes place during the festival, on a stage made of snow. And of course, there will be plenty of food stalls selling plenty of piping hot fare to help ward off the winter chill—yakimanju, tama konnyaku, and more!

Time: 11:00–21:00

Admisson: Free

Official website: yukidourou.yonezawa-matsuri.com

Location: Uesugi Shrine (上杉神社) and Matsugasaki Park (松岬公園). Maps here and here.

Access: 10 minutes by shuttle bus from Yonezawa Station.

17. Ouchijuku Snow Festival

大内宿雪まつり

February 89

Shimogo, Fukushima

A winter festival in the historic Ouchijuku post town. Highlights include fireworks, a woodcutting competition, and a mochi-catching event where mochi is thrown from the rooftops and visitors rush to catch as many as they can.

Hours: 13:00–18:00 February 8, 10:00–13:30 February 9

Admission: Free

Official website: ouchi-juku.com

Details (English): rediscoverfukushima.com

Location: Ouchijuku (大内宿). Map here.

Access: By shuttle bus from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station (会津若松駅) or Yunokami Onsen Station (湯野上温泉駅). For this year's timetable, see here. For detailed access information in English, see here (information is for the 2018 festival).

18. National Ramen Festival

全国ラーメンフェスタ

February 89

Kitakata, Fukushima

A ramen festival in one of Japan's Three Great Ramen towns. Makers representing each of Japan's Three Great Ramen (Kitakata ramen, Sapporo ramen, and Hataka ramen) gather at this festival, so visitors can taste them all in one go! On February 8, there's also a ramen-eating contest—sign up day-of at the festival if you want to compete! On February 9, the Kitakata Entertainment Dream Festa will take place in the same area, providing entertainment in the form of hip-hop, jazz, and street dance.

Hours: 10:00–19:00 February 8, 10:00–16:00 February 9

Fee (Ramen Festival): Free admission, ramen ¥600 per bowl

Admission (Dream Festa): ¥300, children ages elementary school & younger free

Details: city.kitakata.fukushima.jp

Location: Kitakata Plaza Culture Center (喜多方プラザ文化センタ). Map here.

Access: 5 minutes by free shuttle bus from Kitakata Station. For shuttle bus info, see bottom of this PDF.

19. Aone Onsen Snow Illumination

青根温泉雪あかり

February 9

Kawasaki, Miyagi

*NOTICE: Due to lack of snow, the snow lantern event has been cancelled. Instead, there will be a tonjiru soup and hot cocoa giveaway starting at 16:30, and a fireworks show at 17:30. For details, please see here.*

By day, visitors can sculpt snow lanterns and enjoy piping hot food from festival stalls. By night, the festival takes on an ethereal atmosphere, lit by hundreds of snow lanterns. Participation is encouraged—no reservations are needed to make a lantern!

Hours: 15:00–20:30

Admission: Free

Details: miyagi-kankou.or.jp

Details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: In front of Jappo no Yu (じゃっぽの湯). Map here.

Access: 70 minutes from Sendai Station, followed by a 10-minute taxi ride. Board bus bound for Murata・Zao・Togatta (村田・蔵王・遠刈田) at Sendai Station Bus Stop 33. Alight at the Togatta Onsen (遠刈田温泉) bus stop. See timetable here. If you need help calling a taxi, inquire at the Zao-machi Sightseeing Information Center (蔵王町 観光案内所), located across the street from the Togatta Onsen bus stop.

20. Yonekawa Mizuakuburi Festival

米川の水かぶり

February 9

Yonekawa, Miyagi

An 800-year-old ritual meant to ward off fire, currently under consideration for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status. Every year, 42-year-old men paint their faces with soot, don holy ropes, and run wildly around town, where they douse people's houses with water. Meanwhile, the residents try to pull pieces of straw from the holy ropes, a talisman said to protect the house against fire in the coming year.

Hours: 9:30–11:30

Admission: Free

Details: city.tome.miyagi.jp 

Details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: Daiji-ji Temple (法輪山大慈寺) and around town. Map here.

Access: About 95 minutes by highway bus from Sendai Station, followed by a 20-minute shuttle bus or taxi ride. From Sendai Station Highway Bus Terminal Sakurano-mae #31, board bus bound for Tome City Shiyakusho-mae (登米市役所前). Alight at Tome Shiyakusho-mae bus stop. Highway bus timetable here. A free shuttle bus service is planned to run between Tome City Shiyakusho and the temple, but the timetable has not yet been released. For shuttle bus details, see here.

21. Shinobu Sanzan Akatsuki Matsuri

信夫三山暁まいり

February 1011

Fukushima City, Fukushima

A mountain worship ritual taking place in the heart of Fukushima City. In the morning, a procession to the summit of holy Mount Shinobu begins. The 300-year-old ritual requires about 100 participants to haul a giant, 2-ton straw sandal around the town, then up the mountain to Haguro Shrine at the peak.

Hours: 9:00–late night February 10, 11:00~ February 11

Fee: Free

Details: f-kankou.jp

Details (English, for 2019): fukushima-guide.jp

Location: Various locations around town and Mount Shinobu (信夫山), ending at Haguro Shrine (羽黒神社) at the summit. Map here.

Access: Haguro Shrine is a 30-minute walk from the Fukushima Television (福島テレビ) bus stop. From Fukushima Station, board the Momorin city loop bus (市内循環「ももりん」), alight at Fukushima Television bus stop.

22. Nihonmatsu Sake Festival

二本松酒まつり

February 15

Nihonmatsu, Fukushima

Come taste and compare over 40 different sakes from four Nihonmatsu breweries! In addition to sake, visitors can also enjoy specialty cocktails and Fukushima wines. Live bands will be performing throughout the event for you to enjoy your sake to.

Time: 15:30~

Fee: ¥4,000 (includes sake and snacks). Tickets must be purchased in advance. For ticket-selling locations, see Details page.

Details: nihonmatsu-cci.or.jp

Location: Nihonmatsu Gyoen (二本松御苑). Map here.

Access: By free shuttle bus from Nihonmatsu Station.

23. WhiteAthlon World Cup

ホワイトアスロンワールドカップ

February 1516

Mogami, Yamagata

A fun tournament that's a mash-up of track-and-field, snow country traditions, and snow play. Anyone (ages elementary school and up) is invited to participate! No reservations are needed, simply register day-of when you arrive at the venue. In addition to the athletics, there will be a fireworks display Saturday night.

Hours: 11:00–20:00 February 15, 8:00–17:00 February 16

Fee (spectators): ¥200

Fee (participants): ¥1,000

Reservation: Not necessary

Official website: whiteathon.com

Location: Akiyama Ski Area (秋山スキー場). Map here.

Access: By free shuttle bus from Mamurogawa Station (真室川駅)

24. Taiko Drumming Workshop

和太鼓体験    

February 22
Central Sendai

Come learn taiko drumming from professional troupe Wadaiko Aota! This English-friendly workshop includes a semi-private performance by the troupe, followed by an introductory taiko lesson.

Time: 19:00–20:30

Fee: ¥6,360

Reservations: Required, can book online in English

Details & booking: isendai.myshopify.com

Location: Hanaza (魅知国定席 花座). Map here.

Access: 8-minute walk from Kotodaikoen Station

25. National Shiogama Jinka Song Contest

塩釜甚句全国大会

February 22

Shiogama, Miyagi

Professional and amateur singers from across Japan gather to see who can give the best rendition of the traditional "Shiogama Jinka."

Hours: 9:00–18:00

Admission: Free

Details: miyagi-kankou.or.jp

Location: Shiogama City Ichibankan (壱番館). Map here.

Access: 3-minute walk from Hon-Shiogama Station

26. Yunokami Onsen Fire Festival

湯野上温泉火祭り

February 22

Shimogo, Fukushima

A contemporary take on the Japanese winter fire festival tradition, with flamethrowing performance artists and fire dancers! In addition to the performances, the streets of the onsen town are lined with contemporary art.

Hours: 15:00~

Admission: Free

Official website: yunokamifirefes.wixsite.com

2020 festival details: tif.ne.jp

Location: In front of Yunokami Onsen Station (湯野上温泉駅) & various venues around the onsen town. Map here.

Access: At Yunokami Onsen Station

27. All-Japan Dance Competition in Sendai

全国ダンスコンペティションin仙台

February 2223

Central Sendai

An elite youth dance competition for ballet and modern dance.

Hours: 10:00~

Admission: ¥2,000. Tickets must be purchased in advance from Ticket Pia or Lawson Ticket. See here for details.

Official page: miyagiken-y-d-r.com

Location: Hitachi Systems Hall Sendai (日立システムズホール ). Map here.

Access: Across the street from Asahigaoka Station

28. Karamushi Ori no Sato Snow Festival

からむし織の里雪まつり

February 23

Showa, Fukushima

*NOTICE: Due to lack of snow, portions of this festival have been cancelled, including the karamushi bleaching demonstration, snowmobile rides, and snowshoeing. As of February 21, the sake tasting, prize lottery, and stage performances are planned to go on as usual. For details and updates, please see the Details link below.*

A local festival celebrating the natural process used to bleach traditional handmade karamushi fabric. By laying the fabric out on the snow, it becomes naturally bleached by the sun's rays, an effect amplified by the sunlight being reflected off the white show. The event will also feature traditional performing arts, and will offer a number of free hands-on activities for visitors, including sledding, snowmobile rides, and sake tasting. Inside the karamushi museum here, visitors can also try their hand at weaving karamushi fabric themselves.

Hours: 10:00–15:00

Admission: Free

Details: showavill.info

Location: Karamushi Ori no Sato (からむし織の里). Map here.

Access: 35 minutes by bus from Aizukawaguchi Station (会津川口駅), or 50 minutes by bus from Aizu-Tajima Station (会津田島駅). Board at either station; alight at Karamushi Ori no Sato (からむし織の里) bus stop. Timetables here.

29. Flower Nagai Line Wine Train

フラワー長井線ワイン列車

February 29

Nanyo & Takahata, Yamagata

Enjoy a selection local wines from southern Yamagata while gazing out at the snowy winter landscape. The train arrives at/departs from Ayaku Onsen Station, making this special train ride a great start or end to an overnight onsen stay.

Time: 14:35–15:34 or 15:69–16:51

Fee: ¥4,500 (includes train ticket, wine, and otsumami appetizers)

Reservations: Required at least 3 days in advance

Details: flower-liner.jp

Location: Flower-Nagai Line between Akayu Station and Arato Station. Maps here and here.

Access: At Ayaku Station (赤湯駅), Nagai Station (永井駅), and Arato Station (荒砥駅)

All Posts
×

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OK