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Japan in Winter

Festivals and illuminations

February is the time when all things winter launch into full effect. There are still winter illuminations on display in places like Nabana no Sato, it’s peak season in the ski fields, with February boasting some of the best powder around and there are even some winter festivals on the go.

The Sapporo Snow Festival (or Yuki Matsuri) which began at the end of January continues through until the second week of February, and if you head even further north, Asahikawa has it’s own Snow Festival celebrations. Massive snow and ice sculptures line the streets and attract crowds from all over the world. Just a short 40 minute train ride from Sapporo, you can find the city of Otaru – a small seaside town that holds a Winter Light Festival. 120,000 candles line the canal that runs through the city, creating a spectacular display of lights.

Chinese New Year

Nagasaki hosts Japan’s largest Chinese New Year celebration with a Lantern Festival that runs for 15 whole days in the city’s Chinatown.

For those that aren’t interested in the snow, the Plum Blossoms (Ume) begin to bloom in mid February and last until mid March.

Valentine’s Day in Japan

Did you know? Valentines Day is pretty big in Japan. In Japan on Valentines Day, men don’t have to do anything! They don’t need to think about flowers or gifts or chocolates – in Japan, it’s the ladies job to buy chocolates to give to her chosen sweetheart. The women in Japan will also purchase what are called ‘giri chocolate’, or ‘obligation chocolate’. These are chocolates they buy to give to bosses, co-workers, brothers or fathers. Not for any romantic purposes, of course, simply out of obligation! Men get to reciprocate, giving chocolates and gifts to their own sweethearts one month later on White Day, March 14th.

source: JNTB