Similar to January the opportunity for winter sports continues in to February making it a great time to visit for the powdery snow and limited crowds, alongside the ice queen sculptures of the snow festival. If skiing isn’t your thing though the warm water baths of the onsens and hot water springs in the mountains are sure to entice the most hesitant of visitors, alongside the benefit of visiting before the arrival of the Cherry blossom season and its crowds.
The snow season continues in February on Japan’s northernmost island of Hakkaido, delivering the kind of powdery snow that is perfect for winter sports and making this month a popular time to visit the regions ski fields of Niseko and Sapporo. However it’s still possible to find yourself virtually alone on the slopes if you avoid weekends.
Besides significant snowfall, the famous Sapporo Snow Festival draws the crowds to Sapporo at the beginning of February when the city’s streets are filled with impressive snow and ice sculptures. Expect over-sized Hello Kitty snow statues, ice slides for the kids and ice bars for the adults!
Crisp and dry days continue across Honshu throughout February: it’s the second coldest month of the year in Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima (avg temp: 5 - 7°C), with experiencing slightly cooler temperatures and the possibility of snow.
Elsewhere in Honshu, February is peak season in the Japanese Alps ski resorts with snowfall especially around Nagano making it an ideal month for winter sports. If you’re not a skier, you can still appreciate the snow scenery from the therapeutic warm waters of a Japanese onsen, with the hot mountain springs of Tsumago particularly inviting: there’s nothing more comforting than relaxing in a steaming hot bath as the snow falls around you!
Despite being further south than Honshu, the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu are not much warmer during February and temperatures in Matsuyama are similar to those in Tokyo, although Fukuoka and Nagasaki may be slightly warmer.
Whilst the rest of Japan is experiencing plunging temperatures in February that rarely make it into double figures, Okinawa is the exception, enjoying warm, pleasant days (avg temp: 17°C). The sea temperature may still be cold but it attracts humpback whales during this time around Kerama and by the end of the month the much anticipated cherry blossom also makes an appearance in the warmer south.
Wander along the ancient trails of Kumano Kodo and its spiritual shrines, enjoying the peaceful, and enchanting surroundings as well as taking in the hospitality of local families along the way.