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(Please confirm information before you go at the phone numbers listed)

(*) covered events
1 Wed *Winter Peony Festival at Ueno Toshogu Shrine Jan. 1 through Feb. 26 (See: January Page)
2 Thu  
3 Fri Setsubun Bean Throwings at Major Shrines and Temples in Japan
    *Daruma Kuyo at Nishi Arai Daishi
    *Setsubun Bean Throwings at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa
    *Setsubun Bean Throwings at Naritasan in Narita, Chiba Prefecture
    *Setsubun Bean Throwings at Shibamata Taishakuten Temple in Katsushika-ku
    *Setsubun Bean Throwings at Zojoji Temple in Minato-ku
    *Setsubun Bean Throwings at Nishi Arai Daishi Temple in Adachi-ku
    *Sohei Gyoretsu (Monk Soldiers Procession) at Hosenji Temple, Suginami-ku
    *Setsubun Tsuina (Ceremony of driving out devils) at Kameido Tenjin in Koto-ku
    *Daruma Ichi at Takahata Fudo
4 Sat *Shunsetsu (Chinese New Year Days in traditional Lunar Calendar) Big Parade at Yokohama Chinatown  from 3:30 p.m.
    *Ume Matsuri at Kameido Tenjin Shrine (Feb. 4-March 5)
    *All Japan Nishikigoi Prize Show (Feb. 4 and 5)
5 Sun *Shunsetsu (Chinese New Year Days in traditional Lunar Calendar) Dragon Dances, Lion Dance and Chinese Acrobats at Yamashita-cho Koen in Chinatown from 2:30 p.m.
    *All Japan Nishikigoi Prize Show (Feb. 4 and 5)
6 Mon  
7 Tue  
8 Wed *Hari Kuyo at Shojuin Temple
    *Ume Matsuri Feb. 8 through March 8 at Yushima Tenjin, Bunkyo-ku.
9 Thu  
10 Fri *Izu Kawazu-Sakura Matsuri Feb. 10 through March 10 (best time to see toward the end of February)
11 Sat National Holiday (Kenkoku Kinenbi - National Foundation Day)
    *The Japan Grand Prix International Orchid Festival from Feb. 11 through Feb. 17
    *Ta-asobi (Fertility festival or Rice field ritual) at Tokumaru Kitano Shrine
    *Ume Matsuri (Japanese Apricot Blossoms Festival) Feb.11 through March 5 at Mukojima Hyakkaen
    *Ume Matsuri iat Koishikawa Korakuen Feb. 11 through March 5
    *The Japan Grand Prix International Orchid Festival from Feb. 11 through Feb. 17 
12 Sun *Hatsu Uma at Toyokawa Inari in Akasaka
    *Kite Fair at Oji Inari 
13 Mon *Ta-asobi (Fertility festival or Rice field ritual) at Akatsuka Suwa Shrine
14 Tue  
15 Wed *Suigyo Kokuto-e at Nose Myokendo Temple
16 Thu  
17 Fri  
18 Sat *Mito Kairakuen Ume Matsuri (Feb. 18-March 31)
19 Sun  
20 Mon  
21 Tue  
22 Wed  
23 Thu  
24 Fri *Kite Fair at Oji Inari 
    *Katsuura Hina Matsuri, Feb. 24 through March 5
25 Sat  
26 Sun *Ikazuchi-no-Daihannya at Shinzoin Temple
27 Mon  
28 Tue  

Daruma Kuyo at Nishi Arai Daishi
Feb. 3 (Fri) at 11 a.m.
Nishi Arai Daishi in Adachi-ku

Daruma (Boddhidharma) is an Indian Buddhist who went to China; where he is said to have sat for nine years in meditation until losing his arms and legs as a result of atrophy.

People paint in eyes of a daruma doll black with a brush when his wish comes true.

Daruma Kuyo is a religious service for Daruma dolls which guarded wellbeings of families during the last year. People bring old daruma dolls to temples and they are ceremoniously burned. People buy new daruma dolls for the new year.

URL: Nishi Arai Daishi
Access: Daishi Mae Station on Tobu Daishi Line
Telephone: 03-3890-2345
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Setsubun Mamemaki at Nishi Arai Daishi
Feb. 3 (Fri) at 3:30 p.m.
Nishi Arai Daishi in Adachi-ku

Setsubun (change of season) on February 3 is the last day of winter according to the lunar calendar. The traditional mamemaki (bean-throwing) ceremony is held on this day with the ogre being showered with roasted soybeans amid cries of "oni-wa soto, fuku-wa uchi" (Out with the ogre, in with good fortune!)

Nishi Arai Daishi is a big temple of Shingon sect buddhism opened by Kukai (774-835). Kukai who is also known as Kobo Daishi (Great Saint) sailed to China as a student monk. He returned to found Japan's esoteric Shingon sect buddhism. Shingon sect and Tendai sect are two major esoteric buddhism forces in Japan. The headquarter of Shingon sect buddhism is at Mt. Koya (Koyasan) in Wakayama Prefecture.

URL: Nishi Arai Daishi
Access: Daishi Mae Station on Tobu Daishi Line
Telephone: 03-3890-2345
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Setsubun Mamemaki Bean Throwing at Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Taito-ku
Feb. 3 (Fri)
10 a.m. Bean throwing by Sensoji kindergarteners
11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Processions and bean throwing by local magnates
2:30 p.m. Bean throwing by Seven Lucky Gods
4:00 p.m. Bean throwing by showbusiness personalities
4:40 p.m. Bean throwing by girls in furisode kimono

Setsubun (change of season) on February 3 is the last day of winter according to the lunar calendar. The traditional mamemaki (bean-throwing) ceremony is held on this day with the ogre being showered with roasted soybeans amid cries of "oni-wa soto, fuku-wa uchi" (Out with the ogre, in with good fortune!)

At major shrines and temples, popular personalities such as sumo wrestlers, actors, etc. are invited and scatter the beans. Bean-throwers are usually those born under the particular sign of the Zodiac of the Year and they are called "Toshi-Otoko" - "Year men." Huge crowds gather to watch them perform the ritual and try to catch the beans which are considered to be lucky charm for the year.

URL: Sensoji Temple
Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku
Access: Asakusa Station on Subway Ginza Line, Metropolitan Subway Asakusa Line, Tsukuba Express and Tobu Isezaki Line.
Telephone: 03-3842-0181 (Sensoji Temple)/ 03-3844-1221 (Asakusa Kanko Renmei)
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Setsubun Mamemaki at Zojoji Temple
Feb. 3 (Fri) at 12 p.m.
Zojoji Temple, Minato-ku.

Setsubun (change of season) on February 3 is the last day of winter according to the lunar calendar. The traditional mamemaki (bean-throwing) ceremony is held on this day with the ogre being showered with roasted soybeans amid cries of "oni-wa soto, fuku-wa uchi" (Out with the ogre, in with good fortune!)

At major shrines and temples, popular personalities such as sumo wrestlers, actors, etc. are invited and scatter the beans. Bean-throwers are usually those born under the particular sign of the Zodiac of the Year and they are called "Toshi-Otoko" - "Year men." Huge crowds gather to watch them perform the ritual and try to catch the beans which are considered to be lucky charm for the year.

URL: Zojoji
Nearest Stn. Hamamatsucho on Yamanote Line. 10 minutes walk.
Telephone: 03-3432-1431
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Setsubun Mamemaki at Naritasan Shinshoji in Chiba
Feb. 3 (Fri) Bean throwing at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Setsubun Mamemaki at Naritasan is one of the most famous setsubun event in Japan. Every year, Yokozuna and other sumo wrestlers as well as famous actors and actresses appear and throw beans. This year, Yokozuna Hakuho, Baluto, Kisenosato and Okinoumi are planned to appear.

Narita-san Shinshoji Temple of Shingon Sect is one of the most biggest buddhism temple in Japan.

A long Omotesando (approach to the temple) is lined by numerous restaurants and stores selling traditional crafts, foods and souvenirs to pilgrims and tourists.

URL: Naritasan
Access: Narita Station on JR Sobu Line/ Keisei Narita Station on Keisei Line
Telephone: 0476-22-2111
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Setsubun Tsuina (Ceremony of driving out devils)

Feb. 3 (Fri) from 5:30 p.m.
Kameido Tenjin Shrine, Koto-ku

Tsuina means driving out devils or exorcising. The tradition originated in ancient China. Uniqueness of this setsubun ceremony at the Kameido Tenjin Shrine is the chief shrine priest holds a dialogue with the devils and in the last the devils are ordered by the priest "This is a divine land. You have to leave here soon. Return to your land." These words as a signal, shrine priests and guests start throwing beans to the devils and they run away.

URL: Kameido Tenjin
Access: Kameido Station on JR Sobu Line
Telephone: 03-3681-0010
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Setsubun Mamemaki at Shibamata Taishakuten Temple in Katsushika-ku
Feb. 3 (Fri) Bean throwings at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Sumo wrestlers are popular at Setsubun event. Today, one third of about 40 senior division makuuchi wrestlers in the grand sumo are foreign born. Mongolian wrestlers are most often with ten including the two grand champions Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kakuryu. Makuuchi's heaviest wrestler Gagamaru in the picture came from Georgia near Russia.

Taishakuten Temple impresses visitors with its fine old  buildings. It is very unusual to find such fine old temple buildings in Tokyo. Many were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and the World War II. The Taishakuten temple miraculously survived the two disasters.

URL: Taishakuten
Access: Shibamata Station on Keisei Kanamachi Line
Telephone: 03-3657-2886 (Taishakuten Temple)
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Sohei Gyoretsu (Monk Soldiers Procession)
Feb. 3 (Fri) at 3:30 p.m.
Temple, Suginami-ku

Unusual setsubun ceremony will be held at Hosenji temple
in Suginami-ku. Warrior monks (sohei) of about 50 leave Meitoku Inari Shrine at 3:30 p.m. and arrive at Hosenji Temple at around 4 p.m. followed by thebean-throwing ceremony - throwing mikan besides beans.

Sohei (Warrior monks) were attached to great Buddhist institutions from the middle of the Heian period (794-1185) to guard their estates.

URL: Housenji
Nearest Stn.: Nakano-Sakaue on Subway Marunouchi Line
Telephone: 03-3371-7101

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All Japan Nishikigoi Prize Show sponsored by All Japan Nishikigoi Promotion Association Feb. 4 (Sat), 9:00-17:00 and Feb. 5, 9:00-14:00
Tokyo Heiwajima Ryutsu Center in Ota-ku.

The Japanese people have long praised the koi as the "king of river fish." There are tales in many parts of Japan in which old carp living in ponds or rivers are regarded as the masters of such waters. The fish grows to over 1 meter in length. It was an important food fish in old Japan.

The breeding of carp is believed to have developed in Edo days (1600-1867). The carp were sold not only as food but also as pets for their beauty.

Many new types of beautiful carp have been bred in Niigata and among them, nishikigoi has become most famous. Some have red and white spots n a white body, or have red, black and white markings.

URL: Nishikigoi
Admission: free
Access: Ryutsu Center Station on Tokyo Monorail from Hamamatsucho
Google Map
Telephone: 0258-83-3345 (All Japan Nishikigoi Promotion Association in Ojiya, Niigata)/ 03-3767-2111 (Tokyo Ryutsu Center)

Hatsu Uma
Feb. 12 (Sun)
Toyokawa Inari at Akasaka, Minato-ku.

Hatsuuma is the first horse day of the new year in lunar calendar. It is commonly regarded as the day for festival of Inari shrines. Inari shrines are generally marked with red torii and fox statues. Originally inari was the guardian deity of farmers. Word "Inari" is a combination of two words "ine" (rice plant) and "naru" (grow). The festival is extensively observed in Inari shrines throughout the nation. While most of the inari are Shinto shrines, Toyokawa Inari is a Buddhism temple.

URL: Toyokawa Inari
Nearest Stn. Akasaka Mitsuke on suways Ginza Line and Marunouchi Line. 5 minutes walk.
Telephone: 03-3408-3414
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Tako Ichi (Kite Fair)

Feb. 12 (Sun) and Feb. 24 (Fri) from around 10 a.m.
Oji Inari Shrine in Oji, Kita-ku. The shrine sells kite-shaped charms which are believed to be effective in preventing fires for 1,200 yen. Kites are also sold at open-air stalls in the compound of the shrine.

Oji Inari was a big shrine during the Edo period being a chief Inari shrine of Kanto district.

URL: Oji Inari
Nearest St.n. Oji on the JR Keihin Tohoku Line and Oji on Subway Nanboku Line.
03-3907-3032 (Oji Inari Shrine)

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Shunsetsu (Chinese New Year)
Jan. 28 (Sat) through February 12 (Sun) in 2017 at Yokohama Chinatown. Shunsetsu means Spring Festival.

History of Chinatown in Yokohama begins with Japan's opening of Yokohama port to foreigners in 1859. Today it is the largest Chinatown in Japan. Every year about 18 million tourists visit the town. Streets and tangled alleys include more than 200 restaurants and over 300 shops which market Chinese products - clothes, decorations, accessories, silk works, interiors, herbs, furniture, antiques, etc. The center of the town is Kantei-byo a shrine dedicated to Guan Yu, a warlord and guardian deity of Chinatown.

The celebrations including dragon dances, lion dances, traditional music and dances of China, acrobatics will be performed at Yamashita-cho Koen inside the Chinatown on Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 (three times a day 14:30-15:30, 16:00-17:00 and 17:30-18:30).

The highlight of the festivity comes on Saturday Feb. 4 from 3:30 p.m. A fantastic parade of people in traditional wardlobes accompanied by dragon dances and lion dances will be held along the main streets of the Yokohama Chinatown.

URL: Chinatown Shunsetsu

Access: Ishikawacho Station on JR Keihin Tohoku Line.
Telephone: 045-662-1252
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Hari Kuyo (Mass for Used Sewing Needles)
Feb. 8 (Wed) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Every year the same day of the month.
Shojuin Temple in Shinjuku

Mass for used sewing needles is held in the precincts of the Shojuin temple in Shinjuku-ku.
It is considered needles life has been sacrificed in service for sewing and people in appreciation for the needles' services, the mass is held. On a special altar, offerings of rice cake and fruit are placed and into a large tofu (a soft bean curd), used needles are thrust in order to give them a comfortable rest after their hard working life.

The ceremony was widely held in in old Japan throughout the country by housewives, clothes makers and students of sewing schools. Sewing was an important chore for women and housewives in the old time.

Nearest Station. Shinjuku Gyoen-mae on Subway Marunouchi Line. 10 minutes walk.
Google Map
Telephone: 03-3341-1416
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Yushima Tenjin Ume Matsuri
Feb. 8 (Wed) through March 8 (Wed)
Yushima Tenjin Shrine, Yushima, Bunkyo-ku.

The shrine is a prime viewing spot for plum blossoms since the Edo era. "Ume Matsuri" (Plum Blossom Festival) is held in February and March delighting many visitors.

On Saturdays and Sundays, many attractions are scheduled from noon (cancelled if it rains).

Yushima Shiraume Taiko (Japanese drums): Feb. 11,12,18,19,25,26 and March 45 from 3 p.m.

Nodate (open-air tea ceremony): Feb. 12,19,26 and March 5 from 10:30 a.m.

Mikoshi: Feb. 26 (Sun), 1 p.m. starting from Matsuzakaya Department Store at Hirokoji, Ueno to Yushima Tenjin arriving at 3 p.m.

The best time to see the blossoms will be middle of February to early March.

URL: Yushima Tenjin
Nearest Stn.: Yushima on Subway Chiyoda Line, Okachimachi on JR Yamanote Line. From Yushima Station 3 minutes walk and from Okachimachi Station 10 minutes walk.
Telephone: 03-3836-0753

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Record Setting Snow Fall in Tokyo

A heavy snow storm packing strong winds hit Tokyo on Saturday (February 8). The snow reached 27cm high in the metropolitan Tokyo. It is the heaviest snow since 1969 in Tokyo. Temperatures in the Kanto region centering on Tokyo stayed below zero all day.

Operations of public transportations - flights, bullet trains and commuting trains and others were badly disrupted. The Japan Meteorological Agency issued the heavy snowfall warning in advance calling on residents not to go out unless necessary. This time the forecast came true resulting in lesser damages and confusions. In Tokyo, NHK reported 136 were injured but no deaths in Tokyo.
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Ta-asobi (Fertility festival or Rice field ritual)
Feb. 11 (Sat) from 6 p.m. for two hours. Every year on the same day of the month.
Kitano Shrine in Tokumaru, Itabashi-ku

A pantomime of the various tasks of rice production in the old time will be reenacted to pray for a plentiful harvest at the beginning of the year. The same festival in a different style will be held at Suwa Jinja Shrine on the 13th from 7 p.m. Both are designated as national intangible cultural assets.

Nearest Stn. Kitano Shrine - Take a bus for Akabane from Tobu Narimasu Station to Kobai Shogakko (elementary school). 5 minutes walk from the bus stop; Suwa Jinja Shrine - Shin Takashimadaira Stn. on Subway Mita Line. 15 minutes walk from the station.
Google Map
Telephone: 03-3579-2636 (Itabashi-ku Kyoiku Iinkai (Board of Education)

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Ta-asobi (Fertility festival or Rice field ritual)
Feb. 13 (Mon) from 7 p.m. for two hours. Every year on the same day of the month.
Akatsuka Suwa Shrine in Daimon, Itabashi-ku

Ta-asobi is a traditional ceremony to pray for good harvests and family prosperity prior to the beginning of a new planting season. The ceremony includes a presentation of replicated acts with gestures and movements that represent the thorough process of rice cultivation, which is dedicated to a local guardian deity. The ceremony is held at various locations nationwide during the Lunar New Year. The ceremonies at Suwa Shrine and Kitano Shrine in Itabashi are rare cases in which original forms of the rituals have virtually been unchanged until today. Both are designated as nation's important intangible folklore cultural assets.

Nearest Stn.: Shin-Takashimadaira Stn. on Subway Mita Line. 15 minutes walk from the station.
Google Map
Telephone: 03-3938-6400
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Ume Matsuri at Koishikawa Korakuen
Feb. 11 (Sat) through March 5 (Sun).

Koishikawa Korakuen was the Edo residence of Yorifusa Tokugawa - the founder of the Mito Tokugawa family. The garden was completed by the second clan ruler Mitsukuni Tokugawa (1628-1701). The garden features a central pond and hills, making it perfect for a stroll. When Mitsukini set about constructing the garden, he incorporated some concepts of the Chinese Confucian scholar Shushunsui of the Ming dynasty, including a garden reproduction of Seiko Lake (China), a "Full Moon Bridge" and other features with cultural origins in China. Mitsukuni loved ume (Prunus mume) blossoms so much that he named this ume grove "bairi" (home of ume). There are 20 types of blooming ume trees in the grove.
(From Koishikawa Korakuen Pamphlet)

URL: Koishikawa Korakuen
Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed: Year-end holidays Dec. 29 through Jan. 1)
Admission: 300 yen
Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku
Access: Iidabashi Stn on Toei O-edo Line/ Iidabashi Stn. on JR Sobu-Chuo Line.
Telephone: 03-3811-3015
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Suigyo Kokuto-e

Feb. 15 (Wed) at 1 p.m. (every year same day same time)
Nose Myokendo Temple in Ishihara 4-chome, Sumida-ku

A ceremony of cold-water purification in pray for peace of the nation is practised at the temples which belong to the Nichiren sect of the Buddhism Nichirenshu founded by Nichiren.

Nichiren (1222-1282) is known for his teachings being aggressive and nationalistic.

Believers in loin cloth pour cold water over themselves reciting the sutra.

Nearest Stn. Honjo-Azumabashi on Subway Toei Asakusa Line. 10 minutes walk.
Google Map
Telephone: 03-3623-2485

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Ume Matsuri (Japanese Apricot Blossoms Festival)
Feb. 4 (Sat) through March 5 (Sun)
Kameido Tenjin Shrine in Koto-ku.

The blossoms of ume are welcomed as the first flower of spring in Japan from long past. The tree originally came from China.

Tenjin shrines which are found in many places in the country enshrine Sugawara Michizane (845-903) who is nicknamed Tenjin-Sama. He was a noble man, a politician and a great scholar. His famous poem "Kochi Fukaba Nioi Okoseyo Ume-no Hana Aruji Nashitote Haruna Wasureso" (The east wind has come and it is now spring. Apricot trees in the garden, do not forget to put flowers though I will not be here) is believed to be made when he had to leave Kyoto to his exiled place at Dazaifu in Kyushu.

Today, he is adored as a god of learnings and many students come to pray for their success before the entrance examinations.

URL: Kameido Tenjin
Nearest Stn. Kameido on JR Sobu Line. 15 minutes walk. Telephone: 03-3681-0010

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Ume Matsuri (Japanese Apricot Blossoms Festival)
Feb. 11 (Sat) through March 5 (Sun)
Mukojima Hyakka-en Garden in Sumida-ku.

The garden was built in the early 19th century by a wealthy merchant of Edo, Sahara Kiku-u. Hyakka-en means A Hundred Flowers Garden. The garden covers little more than 2 acres but is intensely planted with trees, deciduous shrubs, flowering bushes and a tunnel of bush clover. When the garden was first built, it featured 360 ume trees. Visitors can enjoy various flowers throughout four seasons.

Photos include a fan tossing game and a person listening to "music" made by water trickling into a vase.

URL: Mukojima Hyakkaen
Time: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Dec. 29-Jan. 3)
Access: Higashi-Mukojima on Tobu Isezaki Line from Asakusa. 15 minutes walk. Closed on Mon. Admission: 150 yen.
Telephone: 03-3611-8705
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Mito Kairakuen
Mito Ume Matsuri
(Feb. 18-March 31 Best time to see is the end of Feb. to early March). Every year about one million people visit the city for the festival.

Kairakuen in Mito was a landscape gardening project started by Nariaki Tokugawa (1800-1860) Ninth feudal lord of the Mito Clan of Tokugawa Shogun family. The park opened in July 1842. The name "Kairakuen" comes from a saying within The Book of Mencius which states, "The ancients would share the pleasure with people, so their pleasures would be hearty and deep." Korakuen was built for not only feudal lords or feudal warriors, but also for commoners. Therefore, the design incorporates characteristics from modern parks as well as formal Japanese landscape gardens. In early spring, about 100 different types of 3,000 plum trees put flowers, making Kairakuen one of the three most famous parks of Japan. Mito is about 70 miles northeast of Tokyo and one hour train trip by Super Express Hitachi from JR Ueno Station. The train runs every one hour from Ueno.

URL: Kairakuen
Address: Tokiwa-cho, Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture
Telephone: 029-244-5454
Admission: free
Open: Open all day 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Access: 15 minutes by bus from JR Joban Line Mito Station
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Plum Trees at Kinuta Park in Setagaya-ku

The metropolitan park was built in 1957 at the place where a metropolitan golf field was before. The park covers a wide area of 391,262 square meters. Inside the park are The Setagaya Museum, a soccer field, a baseball field, a cycling course, a restaurant, etc. Fee charging car parking is available at a space near the museum.

The park enjoys many visitors for plum tree flowers and cherry blossoms in spring and colored leaves in autumn.

URL: Kinuta Park
Address: 1-chome, Okura, Kinuta Koen, Setagaya-ku
Access: 20 minutes walk from Yoga Station on Tokyu Den-en Toshi Line/ Tokyu Bus for Setagaya Museum from Yoga Station (get off at Setagaya Museum)
Telephone: 03-3700-0414
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Kawazu-Sakura Matsuri

Kawazu Town, Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture
Feb. 10 (Fri) through March 10 (Fri)
Best time to see will be from middle to toward the end of February. Please check the festival website below.

The Kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms have become famous as some of the earliest-blooming cherry blossoms in Tokyo's outlying areas. Typical cherry trees in Tokyo "somei yoshino" put flowers between late March and early April and the flowers are in bloom very short time. While Kawazu-zakura flowers' outstanding characteristic is that they are large and pink and they are in bloom for about a month. There are 8,000 cherry trees in Kawazu, and the area holds "The Kawazu-zakura Cherry Blossom Festival" in the blossoming season, to which a million both Japanese and foreign tourists visit.

URL: Kawazu Kanko Kyokai
Access: Kawazu Station on Izukyu Line from Atami
Telephone: 0558-32-0290 (Kawazu Tourist Association)
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Katsuura Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) Feb. 24 (Fri) through March 5 (Sun).
Katsuura City, Chiba Prefecture

1,200 traditional Hina Dolls are placed on the 60 steps of the Toomisaki Shrine in Katsuura City, Chiba Prefecture and 24,000 hina dolls decorate the entire city at various festivity spots from Feb. 24 till March 4. (if it rains, the hina dolls at the shrine will be removed).

Hina Matsuri is a festival for girls on March 3. On this day, ornamental court dolls representing the emperor and empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian Period are displayed on a specially set up red carpet in the homes, and games played, stories told and a feast given. Girls and guests are served with ama sake (sweet drink made from fermented rice). The altar is also decorated with boughs of peach blossoms and make offerings to the hina dolls of freshly made rice cakes (mochi), either flavored with a wild herb or colored and cut into festive diamond shapes.

URL: Katsuura Hinamatsuri
Access: Katsuura Station on JR Soto-bo Line. About 2 hours train trip from Tokyo.
Telephone: 0470-73-6641
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The Japan Grand Prix International Orchid Festival 2017

Feb. 11 through Feb. 17, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at Tokyo Dome, Suidobashi, Bunkyo-ku

The world's largest and most prestigious orchid show fills spacious Tokyo Dome with approximately 3,000 kinds and over 100,000 flowering orchid plants (tropical, temperate, oriental and Japanese). The show attracts over 200,000 visitors every year.

Exhibitors come from 20 countries and regions this year to participate in the show.

For individual plants, only one from the hundreds competing is selected as "Japan Grand Prix" with 2 million yen and a car Benz A180.

URL: Orchid Festival
Admission: 2,200 yen (Advance tickets are available at 1,900 yen until Feb. 10 at convenient stores)
Access: Suidobashi Station on JR Chuo-Sobu Line
Telephone: 03-3591-0551
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Ikazuchi-no-Daihannya (Festival) at Shinzoin Temple in Kasai, Edogawa-ku on Feb. 26 (Sun) at 8:30 a.m.
Ikazuchi is the old name of this town which is now called Higashi Kasai. The event is held every year on the last Sunday of February.

Young Men dressed in long colorful kimono undergarments (naga-juban) run from house to house to chase evil spirits away. The legend tells the priest of Shinzoin temple visited house to house carrying scrolls of Hannya Kyo the Wisdom sutras (Prujna-paramita-sutra) of 600 volumes to chase evil spirits away when cholera prevailed in Edo (Tokyo) toward the end of Edo era. This attempt was successful and prevented cholera to spread in the district. In the festival, the Hannya sutras are carried in 6 containers.

Another legend tells a man who lived in this district dressed in women's kimono to drive away evil spirits for his sister who was suffering from tuberculosis.

Google Map
Address: 4-38-9 Higashi Kasai, Edogawa-ku
Access: Kasai Station on Subway Tozai Line
Telephone: 03-3680-4853
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Tokyo is located at 35.41N in latitude and is a little more to south than Athens in Greece and approximately the same as Tunis in Northern Africa, and midway between San Francisco at 38N and Los Angeles at 33N. Hence, snow is a rare thing in Tokyo. It snows only a couple of days a year. But if it snows, it often paralizes the metropolitan area transportation systems. We had a considerable snow (10 cm) on Feb. 29 in Tokyo.
This year (2012), winter was long and cold and it snowed a lot in the districts facing the Japan Sea. The cold winds from the continent pick up a lot of moistures while passing over the Japan Sea and it drops heavy snow when the winds from the continent hit the high mountains of mainland Japan. The cold winds which dropped moistures become dry and cold air and blow into the districts facing the Pacific Ocean. In Kanto district, the strong dry wind in winter is called "kara-kaze."
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