Jan 20th
Feb 25th

Wintersweet Festival

Wintersweet Festival on Mt Hodo, Nagatoro, Saitama

Venue: Mt Hodo When: Jan 20th - Feb 25th 2024

Wintersweet is the first tree to bloom each year. Wintersweet are also known as Allspice or Robai in Japanese. Before the plum blossoms or Kawazuzakura (early blooming cherry blossoms) the wintersweet spoils us with blooms as early as the first week of January. And they are the most beautiful blooms of bright yellow buds with a distinctively sweet smell. In Saitama Prefecture, Mt Hodo has the most famous wintersweet festival annually in January and February.

The wintersweet garden is on the side of the summit of Mt Hodo. You can either hike or take a ropeway up to see the bright yellow blooms color the mountainside. It is well worth the journey. The wintersweet festival coincides with the bloom of the flower. As such, the dates are never confirmed until close to the opening of the festival. They announce the dates when they have a good idea of when the trees will be in bloom. By and large though, the festival is from late January to late February. And for one weekend only, the last weekend of the wintersweet, the wintersweet festival overlaps with the plum blossom festival on the mountain.

Getting there

The wintersweet garden is located on the side of Mt Hodo. You cannot drive up to it, but you can park at the foot of the mountain and either hike or get the Hodosan ropeway up to the top. By ropeway it only takes a matter of minutes to reach the summit. On foot it takes about an hour.

The ropeway and hiking trails to the top of the mountain are about a 20 minute walk from Chichibu Tetsudo Nagatoro Station. During the weekends of the festival they usually have a shuttle bus service from / to the station. It may not be available in 2021 on account of the Coronavirus.

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Join the discussion

Elizabeth S 3 years ago
Wintersweet! It's funny how the very first flower to bloom in January, wintersweet is so fragrant. And it's followed by plums, which have their own heady perfume. Cherry blossoms are gorgeous but can't hold a candle to the earlier blossoms.
Lynda Hogan Author 3 years ago
Peach blossoms have a faint scent too. Poor old wintersweet get overlooked, but they brighten my January every year :)
Kim 3 years ago
Would love to time it right and enjoy both the wintersweet and the plum blossoms!
Lynda Hogan Author 3 years ago
Yes, that would be awesome. My next mission!
Elena Lisina 3 years ago
I'd like to see plum festival some day!
Elena Lisina 3 years ago
I've read that Ume Matsuri is in February and early March when it's still rather cold. We have winter half a year here and summer is not too hot, so I prefer travelling when it's warm. That's why I miss ume.