In early February, though still cold in Japan, days start to get noticeably longer, and it begins to feel that winter is on its way out. Pretty plum blossoms begin to bloom first, and an early-blooming cherry blossom variety called yama-zakura follows next.
Small, pretty birds called mejiro (white eye) begin to appear on blossoming trees, and beautiful migratory cranes begin to arrive in large numbers.
In February, unmistakable signs of Spring are everywhere in Japan.
Japanese mark the end of winter on February 3rd by celebrating the festival of Setsubun, the last day of winter in the traditional Japanese almanac (Nijushi Sekki).
During the festival, Japanese throw roasted beans around their houses and at temples and shrines, to ward off spirits and welcome the arrival of Spring, chanting Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Demons out. Happiness in!)
The following day, February 4th, is the first day of Spring, called Risshun.