Japan in winter is mysterious not only because of its picture-perfect snowy landscapes, but also for hundreds of exciting winter festivals and events. Besides, the country itself is a great place to enjoy hot springs (onsen), plum blossoms viewing in late winter, and a list of winter outdoor activities during this time of the year.

The Hokkaido and Tohoku regions boast of having Japan’s most stunning snow festivals and winter illuminations. Although these two regions are said to be the prime winter holiday destinations, yet there are other renowned festivals to be experienced in other parts of Japan.

Snow monsters of Zao Onsen, Yamagata Prefecture, Tohoku. Photo Credit: Zao Onsen.

Winter festival in Japan does always associate with snow. For example, if you go to Okayama prefecture on the third Saturday in February, you will witness a festival called Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri or Naked Festival where nine thousands men wearing loincloths battle with one another to get a pair of lucky sacred sticks thrown by the priest.

Those of you, who are very much keen to enjoy a festival that highlights giant snow and ice sculptures including glorious night illuminations, should pay a visit to one of Hokkaido’s top winter festivals.

Seriously, if you are looking for the ultimate winter getaway in Japan, you have got to know the schedule of the events and festivals celebrated by locals and tourists alike throughout the country. For the best Japan winter festivals including events and to make your trip full of surprise, here we share a list of must-see 2020 Japan’s winter festivals with opening and closing dates.

Event & FestivalPlaceDate
Sapporo Snow FestivalSapporo, HokkaidoJanuary 31 to February 11, 2020
Otaru Snow Light Path Festival Otaru, HokkaidoFebruary 8-17, 2019
Asahikawa Winter FestivalAsahikawa, HokkaidoFebruary 6-11, 2020
Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival Lake Shikotsu hot springs, Chitose, HokkaidoJanuary 25 to February 17, 2019
Tokachi River Swan Festival SairinkaTokachigawa hot spring resort, Otofuke town, HokkaidoLate January through late February
Tomamu Ice Village Naka-Tomamu, Shimukappu, Yufutsu, Hokkaido, Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU.December 10, 2018 - March 14, 2019
Obihiro Ice FestivalMidorigaoka Park, Obihiro city, HokkaidoEarly February
Sounkyo Ice Waterfall FestivalSounkyo hot springs resort, Daisetsuzan National Park, HokkaidoFrom late January to late March
Noboribetsu Onsen Hot Spring FestivalNoboribetsu Onsen, Iburi Subprefecture, HokkaidoFebruary 3-4, 2019
Yokote Kamakura FestivalYokote City, Akita, TohokuFebruary 15-16, 2019
Hiburi Kamakura FestivalKakunodate Samurai District, AkitaFebruary 13-14, 2019
Paper Balloon Festival of KamihinokinaiSemboku City, AkitaFebruary 10, 2019
Kariwano Giant Tug of WarDaisen City, AkitaFebruary 10, 2019
Namahage Sedo MatsuriShinzan Shrine in Oga City, AkitaEvery year on the second Friday, Saturday and Sunday of February
Inukko FestivalYuzawa Town, AkitaThe second week of February for 2 days on Saturday and Sunday
Takeuchi (Bamboo Fight) MatsuriMisato Town, AkitaFebruary 15, 2018
Tokamachi Snow FestivalTokamachi City, NiigataFebruary 15-17, 2019
Iwate Snow FestivalKoiwai Farm, Morioka City, IwateFebruary 2-11, 2019
Hirosaki Castle (Yuki-Doro) Snow Lantern FestivalHirosaki Park, AomoriFebruary 9-12, 2019
Zao Snow Monster FestivalZao Onsen, YamagataEarly February
Aizu Painted Candle FestivalAizuwakamatsu City, FukushimaSecond week of February
Yunishigawa Kamakura FestivalYunishigawa Onsen, TochigiLate January to early March
Dosojin Fire FestivalNozawa Onsen, NaganoJanuary 15, 2019
Niino no Yuki MatsuriIzu Shrine, NaganoJanuary 15, 2019
Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festival)Saidaiji Temple, OkayamaHeld on the third Saturday in February
Hachinohe Enburi FestivalHachinohe City, AomoriMid February
Nagasaki Lantern FestivalNagasaki CityFebruary 05-19, 2019
Sapporo White IlluminationSapporo City, HokkaidoLate November to Mid March
Hakodate IlluminationHakodate City, HokkaidoEarly November to Late February
Ashikaga Flower Park Flower FantasyAshikaga Flower Park, Tochigi October 27, 2018 through February 5, 2019

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