Winter season is one of the busiest and most eventful seasons in Osaka. From December through February, parties, illuminations, and other colorful holiday events are held everywhere. Check out some activities and events that you can enjoy if you plan to visit Osaka this February 2018!
Want to experience flower viewing but too early for cherry blossom season? Like cherry blossoms, plum or ume plays an important role in Japanese culture. These two beautiful flowers have a lot of similarities in appearance that you might confuse them with each other, especially if you are not familiar with their differences.
February is the month wherein plum blossoms start blooming. While cherry blossoms signal the coming of spring in Japan, plum blossoms signal the end of winter.
Here are some places where you can go plum blossom viewing in Osaka:
i. Osaka Castle
There are around 1,270 plum trees of more than 100 varieties inside Osaka Castle Park. They were planted all over the park but a large number of them are inside the Plum Grove. You can enjoy their beauty in full bloom from February to March every year. Admission is free except when you are going inside the castle. Other facilities like shops and toilets are also available in the area.
ii. Domyoji Tenmangu
800 plum trees of different varieties were also planted around this shrine, making it a colorful place when the flowers are in full bloom. During the flower viewing season in February and March, the plum garden is open from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. Entrance fee is 300 yen for adults and free for high school students and below.
iii. Expo ’70 Commemorative Park
Expo ’70 is one of the biggest parks in Osaka. It has different cultural and recreational facilities like museums, gardens, and a sports area. Aside from plum blossoms, other seasonal flowers are also grown in its gardens. This is probably one of the best places to go for flower viewing.
Setsubun, also known as Bean-Throwing Festival, is a Japanese event celebrated to mark the end of winter and to welcome spring. Traditionally, roasted beans are thrown at a member of the family wearing an Oni mask outside the door while saying “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi,” meaning “Demons out! Luck in,” in English. Although this tradition is still performed in most Japanese households, there are people who visit shrines and temples to celebrate Setsubun.
This annual festival is celebrated every 3rd of February as part of a week-long spring festival. This can also be your opportunity to taste Japanese street food since there are usually food stalls or yatai around the shrines and temples. Here are some places you can visit for this event in Osaka:
i. Sumiyoshi Taisha
Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of the biggest and oldest shrines in Japan. Its annual Setsubun events usually start from 9:00 AM onwards.
ii. Ishikiri-Tsurugiya Shrine
— OsakaBobファミリー【公式】 (@Bobfamily_ogtb) January 22, 2017
At Ishikiri-Tsurugiya Shrine, more than 50 priests in samurai costumes participate in the ritual to ward off evil spirits and pray for good luck.
iii. Dojima Yakushido Setsubun Omizukumi Festival
— suizou (@suizou) February 3, 2017
At Dojima Yakushido, the rituals are performed a little differently – people toss prayer sticks into the fire. This ritual is called “Goma-daki” and is held every Setsubun. There’s also a dragon parade in the evening at around 6:30 PM.
— 新･続増駄堂本店 (MASUDA-DO) (@Masudado_MAIN) February 20, 2017
The One Night Kanjo Festival, or Ichiya Kannyo, is an annual local festival where rituals are performed to console the spirits of the girls who saved the village from the disaster of the Yodo River. It is held every 20th of February at Nozato Sumiyoshi Shrine and has been designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Asset of Osaka Prefecture. If you are looking for a small and local traditional festival, this one should be on your list.
Osaka indeed has lots of interesting things to offer its visitors, and February is not too late for your winter travel plans. Also, some illumination events that started as early as November are still ongoing until February 2018. All that and other famous tourist attractions make Osaka worth visiting. Come experience the beautiful and colorful traditions and culture of Osaka this winter season!