In the blink of an eye, we’re more than halfway through the first month of the year. We hope that 2019 has been good to you cheapos so far.
If you made a New Year’s resolution to go out and explore the city, here’s your handy guide to Tokyo February events. Aside from these festivities, you can also catch the last of the winter illuminations. Additionally, keep an eye out on the plum blossoms—they start blooming in late February, and we’ve got a guide here. And if you’ve got plans for Valentine’s Day, we’ve got some ideas for you as well.
1. Setsubun (Feb 3)
Where: Various temples and shrines all over Tokyo
When: Usually from 12:00 pm onward
Drive out bad luck and evil spirits in your life, and welcome good fortune with Setsubun, a festival during which people throw soybeans while chanting, “Out with demons; in with good fortune!”
This bean-throwing ceremony is held in most temples and shrines around Tokyo—even small ones—but if you want to go big, the following are known to have large-scale Setsubun celebrations:
- Senso-ji (access: Asakusa Station)
- Zojo-ji (access: Daimon, Onarimon, Shibakoen, or Hamamatsucho Station)
- Kanda Myojin (access: Akihabara or Ochanomizu Station)
- Toyokawa Inari Tokyo Betsuin (access: Akasaka-Mitsuke or Nagatacho Station)
- Tomioka Hachimangu (access: Monzen-Nakacho Station)
These temples and shrines often have celebrities helping to throw beans, as well as other activities lined up. Examples include ritualistic dances, performances, and free food and goodies.
2. Chinatown Lunar New Year celebrations (Feb 5-19)
Where: Yokohama Chinatown (access: Motomachi-Chukagai or Ishikawacho Station)
Time: Varies depending on activity
In 2019, the Lunar New Year falls on February 5 (Tuesday), and you can be sure that the residents of Yokohama Chinatown will have colorful, festive celebrations to ring it in. For starters, there will be a countdown event on the 4th, right before the stroke of midnight brings about the New Year.
Expect dragon and lion dances (there will be lion dances around Chinatown from 2:30-8:00 pm on the 5th), martial arts demos, traditional song-and-dance numbers, and more. To mark the closing of the celebrations, there will be a lantern festival at Mazu Temple at night on February 19.
3. Tokyo Tower Taiwan Festival (Feb 9-11)
Where: Tokyo Tower outdoor square (access: Akabanebashi or Daimon Station)
Time: Feb 9: 5:00 pm-9:00 pm; Feb 10: 11:00 am-9:00 pm; Feb 11: 11:00 am-6:00 pm
Admission: 500 yen
Celebrating both Lunar New Year and Taiwanese culture is the Tokyo Tower Taiwan Festival. Head over to this event for a taste of Taiwan’s delicious street food and for some stage performances by Japanese and Taiwanese artists. Details are still sparse as of this writing, but the event website says that this festival will also serve as a glimpse of a Taiwanese Lunar New Year celebration, as well as a chance to experience Taiwanese arts and culture.
4. World Valentine Festival (Feb 9-10)
Where: Yoyogi Park Events Square (access: Harajuku or Meiji-jingumae Station)
Time: 10:00 am-7:00 pm
Whether you’re single or you have a special someone to spend Valentine’s Day with, drop by this festival if you want to learn about different Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world. Expect food, booze, and performances at this event, which is now on its fifth year.
5. Some no Komichi (Feb 22-24)
Where: Around Nakai Station
Time: Around 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Nakano Ward may be known for the collector’s paradise Nakano Broadway and the shopping arcade leading to it, but less-known to many are the neighborhoods of Nakai and Ochiai. In the early 20th century, these areas were filled with dyeing factories, which led to this area’s unique heritage and reputation as a hub for traditional dyeing.
Having inherited the craft, descendants of the first dyeing artisans have continued finding ways to keep traditional dyeing alive—and Some no Komichi is one way to spread the word.
During this town-wide event, you’ll see cloth strewn over the river, creating a “river gallery.” Shops will also proudly showcase their noren (Japanese-style curtains), dyed the old-school way. There will be exhibitions and hands-on workshops; in previous years, there were also guided tours in English.
A famous park, a former black market and a whole heap of museums—get to know Ueno: