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 experience 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.

If are interested in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, Hokkaido is the right place you have to visit in Japan. Besides, the region is also quite famous for highlighting giant snow and ice sculptures including glorious night illuminations through a number of 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 2020-2021 Japan’s winter festivals and events with opening and closing dates.

Event & FestivalPlaceDate
Sapporo Snow FestivalSapporo, HokkaidoFebruary 4-11, 2021
Otaru Snow Light Path FestivalOtaru, HokkaidoFebruary 6-13, 2021
Asahikawa Winter FestivalAsahikawa, HokkaidoFebruary 6-11, 2021
Lake Shikotsu Ice FestivalLake Shikotsu hot springs, Chitose, HokkaidoJanuary 29 to February 23, 2021
Tokachi River Swan Festival SairinkaTokachigawa hot spring resort, Otofuke town, HokkaidoLate January through late February
Tomamu Ice VillageNaka-Tomamu, Shimukappu, Yufutsu, Hokkaido, Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU.December 10, 2020 - March 14, 2021
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, 2020
Yokote Kamakura FestivalYokote City, Akita, TohokuFebruary 15-16, 2021
Hiburi Kamakura FestivalKakunodate Samurai District, AkitaFebruary 13-14, 2021
Paper Balloon Festival of KamihinokinaiSemboku City, AkitaFebruary 10, 2021
Kariwano Giant Tug of WarDaisen City, AkitaFebruary 10, 2021
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, 2019
Tokamachi Snow FestivalTokamachi City, NiigataCancelled
Iwate Snow FestivalKoiwai Farm, Morioka City, IwateEarly February - Mid February 2021
Hirosaki Castle (Yuki-Doro) Snow Lantern FestivalHirosaki Park, AomoriFebruary 9-12, 2019
Zao Snow Monster FestivalZao Onsen, YamagataDecember 26, 2020 to February 28, 2021
Aizu Painted Candle FestivalAizuwakamatsu City, FukushimaSecond week of February
Yunishigawa Kamakura FestivalYunishigawa Onsen, TochigiLate January to early March
Dosojin Fire FestivalNozawa Onsen, NaganoJanuary 15, 2021
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 12-26, 2021
Sapporo White IlluminationSapporo City, HokkaidoLate November to Mid March
Hakodate IlluminationHakodate City, HokkaidoEarly November to Late February
Ashikaga Flower Park Flower FantasyAshikaga Flower Park, TochigiOctober 17, 2020 through February 7, 2021
Tsunan Snow FestivalTsunan city, Niigata PrefectureMarch 14, 2020

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