This February is sure to be a busy one despite being the shortest month of the year - although we are blessed with an extra day from the leap year. With the Chinese New Year celebrations starting at the end of January and continuing into February, you can expect plenty of celebrations in Yokohama, especially in Yokohama Chinatown. It also seems that this month ahead of us is a celebration of all things alcohol with plenty of Japanese sake, beer, and wine festivals being held across the city. It certainly makes getting through the last winter month a lot easier!
February is also the month of love thanks to Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day in Japan comes with traditions that are a little different from those in the West, although one thing they have in common is that there’s chocolate everywhere. Not ideal if you’re on a diet. In Japan, the women are expected to give the men in their life’s chocolate, not just to those they fancy or love, but to those who are important, too. This is then followed up the following month, March 14th, known as White Day, where those men who received the chocolates return the sentiment with other gifts.
As you know, here at byFood, we’re obsessed with all things food in Tokyo. So, here’s our list of top food and drink events that are happening in Tokyo this February.
With Chinese New Year being at the end of January, celebrations of the New Year continue into February as it’s a 15-day celebration. Yokohama’s Chukagai (Chinatown) is hosting traditional Chinese performances such as lion and dragon dances, acrobatics, songs and more. The year of the rat festivities are set to take place in Yamashita-Cho Park and performances are between 1pm – 2pm, 2:30pm – 3:30pm, and 4pm – 5pm. While you’re there, why not indulge in some Chinese street food that’s on offer such as xiao long bao (soup dumplings) or siu mai dumplings and wash it all down with some bubble tea. Check out our Yokohama Chinatown Street Food Guide for an overview of the best bites!
Dates: February 1 – 2, 2020
Time: 1pm – 5pm
Location: Yamashita-Cho Park, Yokohama
Mamemaki (soybean throwing) is a ceremony held as part of the Setsubun celebrations which celebrate the end of winter and the start of spring. It’s held throughout Japan to ward off bad luck and disasters and bring good fortune and good health. Zojoji Temple is to host a bean flinging ceremony with men and women born in the year of the current Chinese zodiac sign (2020 is the year of the rat) while kitted out in samurai garb. It’s a unique spectacle that you’re unlikely to see again if you’re not living in these ends, so make the most of it if you’re in the area.
Date: February 3, 2020
Time: 12pm – 1pm
Location: Zojoji Temple, Shibakoen
The Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse will be filled to the brim with all things strawberry for 11 days in February. The Japanese really make the most of seasonal flavors and when something is in season, you can expect to find seasonal flavored everything, and in this case, it’s strawberry. The market will serve a number of strawberry desserts such as strawberry cheesecake, chocolate strawberries, strawberry parfait, and other themed goods for you to enjoy. You’ll be able to buy punnets of freshly picked strawberries as well as strawberry flavored drinks and beverages to quench your thirst.
Dates: February 6 – 16, 2020
Time: Weekdays 11am – 6pm, weekends 10am – 6pm
Location: Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, Yokohama
The Lantern Festival is traditionally held on the 15th and final day of the Chinese New Year celebrations. There will be a display of paper lanterns on which people’s hopes and wishes for the year ahead will be written on, and it’s truly a beautiful sight to behold. You can expect more lion dances and other traditional Chinese performances to take place. It’ll be held at the Ma Zhu Miao, Shrine to the Goddess of the Sea in Yokohama’s Chinatown. If you get peckish there are plenty of options such as Taiwanese fried chicken or hearty steamed custard or pork bun to satisfy any craving.
Date: February 8, 2020
Time: 1pm – 7pm
Location: Yamashita-Cho Park, Yokohama
Why not head on down to Ueno Park and enjoy the fourth Liquor Corner Fest. Here you can find a selection of sake, shochu, and wine. They’ll also be sake and shochu tastings on offer to help you taste the difference if you haven’t tried them both before. Don’t worry if you’re a bit of a lightweight, there will be plenty of food options available to help soak up all the alcohol.
Dates: February 8 – 11, 2020
Time: 11am – 7pm
Price: Advance sale ¥2,500, at the door ¥2,800
Location: Ueno Park, Ueno
Over 650 plum trees are set to blossom in Setagaya’s Hanegi Park from early February to early March. It’s sure to be an awesome natural display of stunning blossoms brightening up the once bare branches. Traditional performances such as tea ceremonies and koto sessions are to be held in the park on the weekends, for people of all ages to enjoy. There will also be stalls selling refreshments and plum themed foods for you to enjoy.
Dates: February 8 – March 1, 2020
Location: Hanegi Park, Setagaya
The annual Beer1 Grand Prix Festival is back, and you can expect over 70 craft beers to be available from over 30 companies. You can try as many types of beer as you want and vote for your favorite. Votes are counted and taken into consideration and then the beer judge committee votes on the number one, and the winter is crowned the number one craft beer in Japan. There will also be food stalls from local Sumida restaurants, and it’s all-you-can-drink so pace yourselves!
Date: February 23, 2020
Time: 2pm – 6pm
Price: ¥4,500 (all-you-can-drink)
Location: Sumida Industry Hall, Sumida
The 8th annual Tokunoshima Fair is held to promote tourism to the Tokunoshima and Amami-Oshima Islands that lie about 100km northeast of Okinawa. They’re beautiful islands with clean sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters with a warm climate pretty much all year round. At the fair, you can expect stalls selling regional foods made with local produce such as soup using the first spring harvest of the potato, and brown sugar shochu made from sugarcane grown in the region. You can expect traditional and lively performances throughout the day to entertain guests.
Date: February 23, 2020
Time: 9:30am – 4pm
Location: Yoyogi Park, Yoyogi
The Sake Festival and Wine Festival are to be held simultaneously in Yurakucho. It’s the perfect place for those new to sake to try and taste the beloved spirit and learn more about it. There will be at least 10 different varieties of sake to taste on show from breweries across Japan. At the Wine Fest, you can expect over 100 red, white, and rose wines for you to indulge in. Again, there will be some food stalls where you can buy foods and snacks that go swimmingly with the alcohol on offer.Dates: February 28 – 29, 2020
Time: Friday 2pm – 9pm, Saturday 10am – 7pm
Japanese Sake Festival ¥3,000
Wine Festival ¥2,500
Combination Ticket ¥4,500
Location: Tokyo Kotsu kaikan, Yurakucho