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february festivals, miyajima

Miyajima Oysters Galore: Five Amazing February Festivals!

Thalia Harris

Thalia Harris

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A light display at a February festival in Japan. The Miyajima Oyster Festival also takes place during that time.

February in places like Miyajima is full of celebrations. These paint the country with hues of ancient rituals and modern revelry. Let’s journey through the heart of Japan’s winter festivals. Each event is a brushstroke contributing to the magnificent portrait of February events.

Miyajima Oyster Festival (Second Saturday and Sunday in February)

The Miyajima Oyster Festival is a well-loved event on Miyajima Island, famous for its strong connection to local cuisine, especially oysters. The festival usually happens in spring and brings together locals and visitors to enjoy a lot of fresh oysters. Different oyster dishes are the stars of the show, letting people try these treats made in both traditional and new ways.

People cooking oysters at the Miyajima Oyster Festival.
Oysters are the food of choice at this event! Image via Shutterstock

The festival is full of life with cultural performances, entertainment, and activities. These highlight how important oysters are in the local community. Miyajima, also called Itsukushima, is a beautiful island in the Inland Sea of Japan. The Oyster Festival adds to the island’s appeal by giving seafood lovers a unique food experience. The event is a chance to savor the best oysters. It’s also a way to celebrate the island’s rich food history and the lives of local fishermen.

Atami Baien Ume Matsuri (Ends March 3rd)

The Atami Baien Ume Matsuri, or Plum Blossom Festival, is a cool event in Atami, a famous hot spring resort town in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. It goes on for two months, from the second week of January to early March, all about celebrating beautiful ume blossoms.

Atami Baien, the stunning plum garden where the festival happens, has 450 plum trees with 60 different types, some more than 100 years old. The garden looks fantastic as the plum blossoms bloom, bringing in thousands of visitors worldwide.

Plum blossoms in Atami.
This event features over 50 plum blossom trees! Image via Shutterstock

During the festival, people can enjoy the different ume blossoms, join in cultural programs, and even try the traditional tea ceremony. This gives you a deep cultural experience. The festival is an extraordinary chance to see the natural beauty of plum blossoms in a gorgeous setting, surrounded by azaleas and maple trees.

The two-month duration means both locals and visitors from other countries can fully enjoy the beauty of the ume blossoms. Overall, this event is a window into Japan’s natural heritage and teaches you about the importance of the ume in Japanese tradition.

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Kasedori Festival (February 11)

The Kasedori Festival, also called the Strawbird Festival, is a really old and fantastic event in Kaminoyama, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. People have been celebrating it since the 1600s. It’s a lively tradition where folks dress up in coats made of straw like birds and shout “Kakkakaa!” while dancing in the streets. This festival comes from an incredible story about the kasedori, a mythical bird that brought water to extinguish fires.

People dressed in straw costumes at the Kasedori Festival.
The Kasedori Festival is based on an old legend. Image via Shutterstock

People join in by splashing water on the performers, wishing for a good harvest and successful business. Not to mention, the festival wraps up with a lively parade through the city. During the event, performers get soaked with water, which is believed to bring good vibes for the year. Overall, the festival is a fun and immersive cultural event. Locals and visitors gather to be part of this ancient tradition. Its connection to local stories and its role as a wish for safety and success make it a super important event in the area.

Yamanakako Ice Candles Festival (February 11)

The Yamanakako Ice Candles Festival is like a magical winter wonderland in the Lake Yamanaka area of Yamanashi Prefecture. It usually happens in early February and brings thousands of ice candles to life, making everything look breathtaking. Generally, real ice candles are lit along Lake Yamanaka’s shores, enchanting the whole place.

People dressed in straw costumes at the Kasedori Festival.
The Kasedori Festival is based on an old legend. Image via Shutterstock

And guess what? There are even fireworks! They add to the excitement of the event. It all kicks off in the late afternoon, so when you visit, you can see the transition from daylight to the evening glow of the ice candles, creating a memory you won’t forget.

Both locals and tourists love this one-day celebration of lights. It’s a chance to see the ice candles’ exceptional beauty against the lake’s backdrop and the winter scenery. The festival usually happens at the Yamanakako Communication Plaza “KIRARA,” and the sparkling ice candles and the fireworks together make it a truly magical experience.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival (February 10-17)

The Otaru Snow Light Path Festival, also known as Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi, transforms Otaru, Hokkaido, into a magical winter wonderland. This festive celebration also adorns the city with sparkling lights, snow candles, and little snow statues, creating a truly enchanting atmosphere every year.

A person standing in front of an illuminated snow heart display at the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival.
This festival features beautiful snow sculptures.Image via Shutterstock

The festival’s goal is to provide a space for visitors to relax, appreciate the gentle glow of candlelight, and take a moment for quiet reflection. The historic Otaru Canal and the former Japan National Railways Temiya Line light up every evening from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM, creating a romantic ambiance that attracts over 200,000 visitors annually.

Festival venues like the Unga, Temiyasen, and Tenguyama are conveniently close to Otaru Station. This makes it easy for visitors to explore the illuminated sites. Additionally, the festival offers a chance for travelers to enjoy the tastes of Otaru and the dreamlike scenery. Special tickets are available during the event. All in all, these allow visitors to enjoy affordable sushi, sweets, or noodles as they stroll through the beautifully lit streets.

Why should I check out these festivals in places like Miyajima?

Exploring festivals in places like Miyajima gives a unique glimpse into Japan’s cultural heart. The Miyajima Oyster Festival, for example, celebrates local cuisine and links the island’s history to its vibrant present. Joining these events deepens one’s understanding of Japanese heritage and community spirit. Have you ever been to one of these festivals before? Let us know in the comments below!

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