As the chilly weather finally loosens and the end of winter comes into sight, February is a month full of events. There’s a host of annual celebrations, including setsubun and the Chinese New Year, while exhibitions and performances happening only this season are also on our list of unmissable events. Here are 10 events to visit to get the most out of the very start of spring.
The World of Traditional Performing Arts
Dive into the world of traditional Japanese performing arts. The Tokyo National Museum is hosting a two-month exhibition that’s all about experiencing art for yourself. Immerse yourself by standing on the very stages used in performances such as Kabuki and Bunraku. Costumes, instruments and props will also be on display for visitors to examine the fine details of Japanese craftsmanship. Video materials will also be available for those who want to see behind the scenes of traditional performances.
General ¥1,500, University students ¥1,000, High school students ¥600
Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan
13-9 Ueno Park, Taito-ku
February 4 – 27
The Mind of Belief in Ukiyo-e
Unbeknownst to some, ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock print) had a similar role to modern-day SNS. From recent news of earthquakes to rumored mermaid sightings, ukiyo-e was responsible for communicating and spreading a variety of information through Japan during the Edo period. Get a glimpse of the Edo social buzz by seeing the vast collection of preserved woodblock prints on display at the Ota Memorial Museum of Art this February.
General ¥800, University/High school students ¥600, Middle school and under free admission
Ota Memorial Museum of Art
1-10-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Sensoji Setsubun Bean Tossing
Drive away the evil spirits and welcome good fortune for this year with one of the most well-known Japanese traditional rituals. Sensoji in Asakusa was the first temple to hold setsubun on a large scale in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Unlike other temples, the chant when tossing beans “Oni wa soto (Devils out)” is not Sensoji’s original tradition as it’s believed that there is no devil near Kannon in Sensoji. Instead, remember the chant “Senshu banzai. Fuku wa uchi. (Long life. Welcome good fortune.)” before visiting the temple then you’re good to go.
Sensoji 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku
Chinatown Lion Dance
While the Japanese traditional way to drive away evil and welcome good fortune is lobbing beans at one another, the Chinese tradition features a much more intimidating method: a powerful lion dance. The dance at Yokohama Chinatown will be performed on the first day of February to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The dancers mimic lion movements which are rooted in ancient kung fu martial arts disciplines. The performance will take place throughout the Chinatown area, visit for Chinese New Year and receive the blessing of the lions.
Yamashitacho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa
February 10, 22
One of the most traditional and popular ways to play with relatives and friends in the winter season in Japan would be kite flying. This kite market in Oji Inari Shrine originated when kites were purchased as charms to protect against fires. This tradition has continued from the Edo period until now. This market is held on the horse day of February based on the lunar calendar every year and, besides kite shopping, you can browse over 100 stalls selling various kinds of foods, drinks and sweets.
Oji Inari Shrine
1-12-26 Kishicho, Urawa, Saitama
The works of Miquel Barceló have finally arrived in Tokyo after popular exhibitions in Osaka and Mie. Barceló is a Spanish artist internationally renowned for his contemporary artworks which draw on non-traditional materials, such as volcanic ash, food, seaweed, sediments and homemade pigments. About a hundred works inspired by diverse cultures and locations experienced throughout his career will be showcased in this exhibition.
General ¥1,200, University and high school students ¥800
Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery
3-20-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
World Press Photo 2021 Exhibition
People were asked to refrain from going out due to the state of emergency; it was the 10th anniversary of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami; the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were held without spectators for the first time in the history of the Olympics; a House of Representatives election ended with the advent of a new administration. This World Press Photo 2021 Exhibition covers all such events that happened in 2021, with about 300 photos captured by journalists from 36 different countries.
General ¥400, University students ¥300, High school students ¥200, Middle school and under free admission
Yokohama Media and Communication Center
11 Nihon-odori, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa
The Tokugawa Clansmen: The People Who Supported the Shogunal Family
The Edo era was the longest in Japanese history. It was established by Ieyasu Tokugawa and continuously ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate even after the death of Ieyasu, lasting more than 260 years. However, not all the Tokugawa Clansmen were the direct descendants of Ieyasu. The noble families, including the Kii family and the Hitotsubashi family, joined the Tokugawa Clansmen from outside and contributed to the successful continuation of the shogunate. This exhibition explores those Tokugawa Clansmen who supported the shogunate.
General ¥600, University students ¥480, High school students ¥300, Middle school and under free admission
1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku
Concert Until February 6, Exhibition until February 14
Hypnosismic: Division Rap Battle
During February, rap project Hypnosismic is holding a concert series as well as a special exhibition. Hypnosismic originally began as an audio drama and has since expanded to comic books, a videogame app, stage play and anime. A total of 18 main characters belong to each of the six teams ー Ikebukuro division, Yokohama division, Shibuya division, Shinjuku division, Osaka division and Nagoya division. The concert series, entitled “Rule the Stage – Track. 5” will introduce audiences to the story of the legendary team “The Dirty Dawg” where four leaders of Ikebukuro, Yokohama, Shibuya and Shinjuku used to belong. The exhibition will showcase the costumes worn by the cast members during the previous live performance series “Rule the Stage – Battle of Pride.”
Tokyo Dome City Hall
1-3-61 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku
2-5-8 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku
The fin. Album Launch
Indie rock duo, The Fin. will be debuting their 3rd album Outer Ego at Ebisu LIQUIDROOM on February 18. The duo has drawn domestic and international attention since 2012 for their releases which blend elements of dream-pop, shoegaze and chill wave and Outer Ego, released late last year, has been a welcome addition to their peerless catalog. Tickets are available online or at Lawson stores, check the website below for details.