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Japanese Events in February
Related Resources
Japanese Events in January
Expressions Including "Oni"

The Japanese word for February is "ni-gatsu(二月)." In the old days it was called "kisaragi(如月)." (Click here to learn the old names of the months.) The calendar might say it is the beginning of spring, but Februaryis still quite cold in Japan and snow and ice festivals are held in many places. One of the most popular ones is theSapporo Snow Festival.

Here are some events in February.

Around 3rd Setsubun
Bean Scattering Ceremony
(The Last Day of Winter)
Around 4th Risshun
The First Day of Spring
8th Hari-kuyou
Sewing Needle
Memorial Service


National Foundation Day
(National Holiday)

"Risshun" is a day that marks the beginning of spring. The day before "risshun" is called "setsubun," which literally means "the parting of the seasons." On the night of "setsubun," people yell "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Out with the ogre! In with good fortune!)" as they scatter roasted soybeans inside and outside their homes. After scattering them, it is said that if you eat the exact number of beans as your age you will be in good health during the year. At temples and shrines bean scatterings (mamemaki) are held on a big scale. Click here to learn some expressions including the word "oni."

"Hari-kuyou" is a memorial service for old sewing needles. "Hari" means "noodle" and "kuyou" is a Buddhist memorial service. "Kuyou" is usually held for the sprits of the dead, but has been held for other than human beings, for example, the things used for a long time has been broken or has become useless. On February 8th (or December 8th) broken or damaged sewing needles are stuck into tofu or konnyaku and offered to a Shinto shrine.

"Kenkoku-kinenbi" is a national holiday. Although it is called "kenkoku (National Founding)," it is not a specific historical date. It is based on the myth that the first Emperor Jinmu ascended to the throne on this day.

Click here to learn how the Japanese celebrate Valentine's Day.

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