Wintersweet Festival

Wintersweet Festival on Mt Hodo, Nagatoro, Saitama

Early Jan
Late Feb
Venue: Mt Hodo When: Early Jan - Late Feb 2023
Outdoor events can be subject to cancellation or postponement due to weather or unforeseen circumstances. Our listings are only updated periodically, so please check the official site closer to any event if you wish to attend.

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 around the 10th of January until February 24th. 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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Lynda Hogan

Lynda Hogan @lynda.hogan

Lynda has been in Japan for 20 years and blogging about Saitama on her personal blog for 14 of them.  Despite its central location, just North of Tokyo, Saitama is still quite unknown to the international tourist, but frequented by domestic travelers. It is a great place to experience some off-the-international-tourist-trail locations and meet with locals and national tourists. I hope to introduce a taste of what there is to do and see in my articles on Japan Travel and help you with your Saitama travel planning.  Be sure to stop by my website where you will find 600 things to do in Saitama and 400 active events! 

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S a year 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 a year ago
Peach blossoms have a faint scent too. Poor old wintersweet get overlooked, but they brighten my January every year :)
Kim a year ago
Would love to time it right and enjoy both the wintersweet and the plum blossoms!
Lynda Hogan Author a year ago
Yes, that would be awesome. My next mission!
Elena Lisina a year ago
I'd like to see plum festival some day!
Elena Lisina a year 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.