Wind chimes at Hikawa Shrine | KAWAGOE

Each summer, Hikawa Shrine displays hundreds of wind chimes during the months of July and August. Today, a storm was brewing up and I instantly thought of going to see the chimes! Last year (2014), when we went the air was so dead that the chimes were also lifeless. Today, we could enjoy their soothing sounds. (Video used with permission).

During the wind chime season, you can add your prayers to the wind chimes by buying an ema, a small wooden plaque, to write your prayer and tie to the chime. Some areas have coloured chimes, while others are clear. At night-time, it is particularly spectacular as the chimes are illuminated and there is a light show in the water feature at the front of the shrine grounds.  Occasionally, there is also live music to accompany the whole sensual experience.

Regular Ema for writing your prayers at Hikawa Shrine
Regular Ema for writing your prayers at Hikawa Shrine
The "ema" (wooden plaques for writing prayers) of Hikawa shrine wind chimes
The “ema” (wooden plaques for writing prayers) of Hikawa shrine wind chimes

During the wind chime period they also have their Tanabata “Star” Festival. It is held annually on the 7th of August:

Tanabata “Star” Festival at Hikawa Shrine


During the Tanabata (Star) Festival at Hikawa Shrine, you can see coloured strips of wishes tied to bamboo trees. You can also write your own wish to add to the bamboo shoots. They have some additional festival stalls and music on that day. The main event is in the evening, usually from 6 pm, when they have some special traditional music performances and they read kamishibai to children.

Information and Access

The wind chimes will be available from July 1st for the 2017 season.

The shrine is open from 9am to 9pm. The illumination starts from 7pm. The cafe next door, Musubi cafe, offers seasonal sweets in association with the event.  You can walk from Hon-kawagoe or Kawagoe stations along a tourist route, but it takes about 40 minutes. There is a tourist bus or a regular bus that will bring you close. There is free parking for 300 cars.  The event usually ends late August to early September.

Getting to Kawagoe from Tokyo

From Ikebukuro, cost and route from hyperdia.com;

From Shinjuku, cost and route from hyperdia.com;

 

Address: 2-11-3 Miyashita Machi, Kawagoe, Saitama

Phone: 049-224-0589

You can take a video tour of the wind chimes at the shrine at the official website: http://www.hikawa-fuurin.jp/

 

Akihanomori Park in Nishi Ward | SAITAMA CITY

We stumbled across this park by accident while taking a respite from visiting a relative in nearby Saitama Iriyo Center.  Unless you find it by accident as we did, you would need a car and a satnav (GPS) to get to this rural park in Nishi-ku (Saitama). It is a relatively new park, but the access roads are very old and very rural. If you are in the area with young kids, or are looking for a place to barbecue, it is worth a visit.

There are two areas with playground equipment. As you come in to the main parking, in front of the baseball pitch, there is a combination equipment piece with climbing and slides among other things. There are also spring rides. In the picnic area there is another combination unit with climbing and a slide. There is also a sand pit. There are also some net climbing equipment. Near the main parking there is the “Center House” which manages the park. There are meeting rooms there that you can book to use. There are clean toilets there. The barbecue area is very popular. It costs 700 yen to book a pit / seating area for one day. The barbecue area is open for use from April to November. They have a multi-purpose ground, which is marked out for baseball, and a soccer pitch. You can book either of them. The latter costs money.

Parking is free and abundant. It is spread out though. There are a few spots in front of the baseball pitch and front playground, but the main car park is past the pitches. This parking is a bit of a walk to the barbecue area. The car park is open from 9 am to 5.15 pm.

The park is located in Nishi Ward of Saitama City, but it is close to both Ageo and Kawagoe.

URLhttp://www.city.saitama.jp/004/006/003/003/p033548.html

 

Summer Festivals in Saitama July 17th – 20th 2015

What an absolutely fabulous hotchpotch of festivals on offer this weekend. There is something for everyone in Saitama this weekend. From the very traditional, history rich Japanese festivals, to a taste of Brazil in a Summer Carnival. From family friendly children processions to beer garden alcohol laden adult friendly festivals!  The choice is as extensive as it is diverse.

Below is a list of the some of the larger, more famous or well attended festivals you can enjoy this weekend, with links to more information in Japanese. Please note, that due to typhoon nangka there maybe changes to the planned schedules and possibly cancellations, too.

Summer Carnival in Tsurugashima

July 18th

SUmmer Carnival tsurugashima
Image taken fom the Saitama Tourist Office

This colourful carnival, just a minute from Tsurugashima station, is quite different from the traditional festivals at this time of year, but just as fun and vivacious.  This event will take place even it is raining. Image taken from the Saitama’s Tourism Bureau.  More information from the Tsurugashima City Official website here .

Fukiage Festival

July 18th and 19th

From the Kounosu City Official website

This local festival in Kounosu is not as well-known or well attended as the Paper Lantern festival, but its a fun day out all the same. There is a portable shrine during the day and an illuminated float at night. You can also enjoy a beer garden. It is held near the Fukiage station on the JR Takasaki line.

More information here.

Sugito Festival

July 18th  and 19th

2014 Flyer from the official website

Sugito is most famous for the Tobu Zoo and amusement park. The town really bands together for their annual festival. There is a fantastic line-up of events over the 2 day festival, including child friendly attractions, even a children’s parade. From the official website: More information here

Honjo Festival

July 18th and 19th

From the Honjo Tourism website

This festival occurs every year on the 2 days preceding “umi no hi”, an annual holiday in Japan. It attracts about 40,000 people. There are 70 stalls. One of the unusual features of this festival is the 雨乞獅子“rain begging lions” or lion dancers performing rain dance; a very unique twist on a shishimai performance, which is most common at New Year. There is a children’s portable shrine procession and parade from 3.30pm on the Saturday, at the community plaza public space.

You can find more information and the schedule on the official website.

Yono Festival

July 18th and 19th

From the Saitama Tourism and International Relations Bureau website.

There are a couple of local festivals in Yono this weekend. You can get more information on the Saitama Tourism and International Relations Bureau website here.

Yoshikawa Summer Festival

July 18th and 19th

From the offical Yoshikawa website

This 400 year old festival is the pride of Yoshikawa city. It is quite different to other festivals in that it is spread out geographically and does not take place in one central location.  You can find out more on the official website here.

Kazo Festival

July 18th  and 19th

Image taken from Kazo City’s website

Please keep an eye on their website for updates, as it maybe cancelled due to the typhoon. The official website:Kazo City festival

Sakado Festival

July 18th – 19th

Image taken from the Sakado city website

It is not as big as some of the other summer festivals this weekend, but there is dance and parading floats. Please check out the official website for more detail on this local Sakado Festival.

Omiya Summer Festival

July 19th

Taken from Saitama Tourism and Internationl Relations Bureau (STIB)

The festival officially starts at 3pm, but the portable shrine progression will start around 5pm. It takes place to the south exit of Omiya station. This event will most likely NOT take place in the event of rain.

Information on the official website; Saitama Tourism and International Relations Bureau.

Chichibu Kawase Firework Festival

July 19th – 20th

Chichibu Kawase Festival

This festival is quite hard to get to, but people still come from far and wide to enjoy the cooler temperatures and the celebrations at the 2000 year old Chichibu shrine. It attracts about 40000 people and there are about 300 stalls.  There are also fireworks on the 19th from 20.00. 1300 fireworks will be launched.

This is NOT the official website, but it has the most detail: http://navi.city.chichibu.lg.jp/p_festival/1273/

Kagohara Summer Festival

July 19th to 20th

From the official Kumagaya City website

One of two festivals happening in Kumagaya this weekend. This one is much lesser known. It is held near Kagohara station.

More information on the official site here.

Urawa Yosakoi Festival

July 20th

Image taken from the STIB website

This dance and music festival is an all day event, starting from 10 in the morning. It is being held near the JR Minami Urawa Station.There are about 20 stalls at the festival. Generally about 50,000 people come to enjoy the yosakoi dance. More information can be found on the Saitama Tourism and International Relations Bureau (STIB).  There is also a festival taking place near Urawa station:

Urawa Mikoshi Festival

July 20th

Image taken from the STIB website

1 of 2 of Urawa’s festivals this Monday, which is a national holiday in Japan.  A “mikoshi” is a portable shrine, carried by many people who have trained for many weeks to carry it in tandem. This festival also has a children’s mikoshi. The mikoshi procession starts at 14.30 near Urawa station.

From STIB Saitama official tourist website: http://www.stib.jp/

Kumagaya Uchiwa Festival

July 20th – 22nd

An “uchiwa” is a type of Japanese fan, a much-needed accessory at this time of year in Japan. This festival stems from a custom of distributing free fans in the retail district, that started roughly 100 years ago. It attracts about 750,000 making it one of the biggest festivals this weekend. There are over 300 stalls. The festival starts on a public holiday and goes through to mid-week.

Image taken from the official website: Kumagaya Uchiwa Matsuri

ENJOY WHICHEVER FESTIVAL YOU ATTEND THIS WEEKEND, and be sure to let us know how you got on.

MORE FESTIVALS COMING NEXT WEEK!

SUMMER POOL SEASON IS HERE! Kawagoe Water Park

Today (2015), our local summer pool opened for the season. Kawagoe Suijo Kouen, or Kawagoe Water or Aquatic Park, is one of the bigger summer pools in Saitama. Like all the other seasonal pools, it only opens for 7 weeks over the summer holidays. Last year we spent most weekends there. It’s a great way to get the kids to go to bed early, have a deep sleep and sleep later than normal in the morning! All that water play really tires them out and they really really love it.

One of the main attractions of Kawagoe’s water park is the pool with waves. It is inclined; the shallow end starts at 0 and the deep end is 1.6 metres. The waves come every 10 minutes.
http://www.parks.or.jp/kawagoesuijo/common/img/pool/category06.jpg

Another popular feature of the water park is the large ship in the centre of the park. (photo from the official website).

http://www.parks.or.jp/kawagoesuijo/common/img/pool/category03.jpg

Of course, the various slides are very popular too. (These photos taken from the official website).

For small children there is a pool that is only 30cm and it has 2 small slides. My kids are in this one, somewhere!  Nappies/ Diapers are ok in this pool.

Children's pool, 30cm deep with two slides
Children’s pool, 30cm deep with two slides

There is also a 60cm pool with a fountain that my older two kids (5 and 4) can enjoy and my 2 year old with a float.
Kawagoe Suijo Koen Children's pool 60cm fountain

Other features include fountains, jets, sprays and a wading river at different points in the park. There is also a simple pool. You can use a small pop up tent in the park, in fact, most Japanese people do. We may have been the only ones without, the first time we went! There is limited shaded areas in the park, so these pop up tents are very practical and for my Irish skin 100% essential!

A sea of tents
A sea of tents

During the summer there is a special bus that runs to the park from Kawagoe and Honkawagoe stations. There are 2 restaurants, 2 kiosks and a number of vans that sell food and drink. There is also a shop that sells pool goods. There is a shower and locker room and plenty of toilets. There is also tennis, futsal and soccer. There are a number of events held over the summer including snorkelling classes. There is a no tattoo policy (see photo below). You can get a full list, in Japanese, plus more information on the official website: http://www.parks.or.jp/kawagoesuijo/  Update July 2016 – new website: http://www.saitamasuijo.com/

Please check there for up-to-date charges. The prices last year (2014):

2014/ 8/17 10:40

Additional information:

Outside the aquatic park there is a free public park with a small playground and a lake with swan boats for hire. On this blog:  紅葉 Autumn leaves at Kawagoe Water Park

Moomin theme park coming to Saitama.

For regular readers, you probably already know from my blog that Saitama has a free, small, Moomin-esque park in Hanno City.

“Moomin Valley”, Akebono Children’s Forest | HANNO

However, you may not yet have heard about the deal that has been signed to open an amusement park, METSA, at Lake Miyazawa in Hanno. This is set to be open for business as soon as Spring 2017. in before summer 2018. News was received at the start of 2017 that the completion of the park has been delayed and is now expected to be open for business sometime between Autumn 2017 and Spring 2018. It is being built adjacent to the current park, which will remain free. This will be the first Moomin themed park to be built outside of Finland.

Although, Hanno City borders Tokyo, it is not that easy to get to and it is quite rural. Here’s hoping they plan to improve infrastructure before the opening of the park. No doubt, the park will be a popular tourist attraction during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. There is quite a lot to do in Hanno City, for people of all ages and backgrounds. Outdoor activities include camping, BBQs, river related sports and activities, horse-riding and stay tuned for more! Another place of interest is their public library,  with its impressive wooden architecture.

Whenever I hear Finland mentioned, I automatically think of my blog buddy “Free but Fun” who maintains an excellent blog about things to do in Finland. As well as other free but fun ideas including crafts.  You can check that out here: https://freebutfun.wordpress.com/

Information for current free park

Address: 893-1 Azu, Hannō-shi, Saitama-ken 357-0046
URL: city.hanno.saitama.jp
Phone: 042-972-7711
Open: 9AM–5PM
Information in English on this blog:  Moomin Valley, Akebono Children’s Forest | HANNO

Affiliate link**: You can buy Moomin products on Amazon.jp:
http://amzn.to/2r5aII3

::As of June 9th 2017 Insaitama.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.jp

July Festivals in Saitama, 2015

Earlier in the week I shared the round up of the festivals this weekend in Saitama. Now I give you something even better; a Pinterest board with 30 Saitama festivals for the month of July.

My festival recommendation for this weekend:

Happy reading and happier festival-ing!! 🙂

Summer Festivals in Saitama July 10th – 12th 2015

The weather and the festival season are warming up here in Japan! While most festivals take place after children get their summer holidays in the middle of July, there are a few held in early July. Here are the main festivals being held in Saitama, beside Tokyo, the weekend of July 10th to 12th.

Fukaya Tanabata Festival

July 10th – 12th


The colours in Fukaya are magnificent as the streets don thousands of coloured streamers.  There are different highlights for each day of the 3 weekend celebration of Tanabata.

Takes place close to Fukaya Station.

Flyer from the official website: http://www.fukaya-ta.com/matsuritanabatamatsuri/

Kasukabe Festival

July 11th & 12th

The town of Crayon Shinchan comes to life with portable shrines and floats, music, dance and booths with food and games. Around the South exit of Kasukabe station. Image taken from the official website: http://www.kasukabe-cci.or.jp/sightseeing/

Hanyu Festival

July 11th

Like many of the summer festivals throughout the Japan this festival has a portable shrine, music, dance and food stalls.

Image taken from the official website: http://www.city.hanyu.lg.jp/docs/2014072400024/

Konosu Matsuri

July 12th

14.30 -21.00 A “mikoshi” which is a portable shrine weighing tons is carried 3 kilometres by a number of people down “heaven’s path” . They even have a small portable shrine that children carry. This event takes place 5 minutes from Konosu station.

From official website: http://www.konosu-kanko.jp/

Urawa Music Parade and Dance

July 12th

The music parade is from 13.30 to 15.30 and the “Urawa dance” is from 16.30-21.00. Many of the performers are school students and school bands. Access from Urawa Station West Exit.

From STIB Saitama official Tourist website: http://www.stib.jp/

Kuki Lantern Festival / Tenno Festival

July 12th (and again on July 18th)

This festival celebrates local folklore and is famous throughout Japan. Huge floats of paper lanterns are carried through the town.

From the official festival website: http://kuki.jpn.org/main/kankoukyoukai/maturi/

MORE FESTIVALS COMING NEXT WEEK!

Saitama Summer Festivals July 10th to 12th 2015

The weather and the festival season are warming up here in Japan! While most festivals take place after children get their summer holidays in the middle of July, there are a few held in early July. Here are the main festivals being held in Saitama, beside Tokyo, the weekend of July 10th to 12th.

Fukaya Tanabata Festival

July 10th – 12th


The colours in Fukaya are magnificent as the streets don thousands of coloured streamers.  There are different highlights for each day of the 3 weekend celebration of Tanabata.

Takes place close to Fukaya Station.

Flyer from the official website: http://www.fukaya-ta.com/matsuritanabatamatsuri/

Kasukabe Festival

July 11th & 12th

The town of Crayon Shinchan comes to life with portable shrines and floats, music, dance and booths with food and games. Around the South exit of Kasukabe station. Image taken from the official website: http://www.kasukabe-cci.or.jp/sightseeing/

Hanyu Festival

July 11th

Like many of the summer festivals throughout the Japan this festival has a portable shrine, music, dance and food stalls.

Image taken from the official website: http://www.city.hanyu.lg.jp/docs/2014072400024/

Konosu Matsuri

July 12th

14.30 -21.00 A “mikoshi” which is a portable shrine weighing tons is carried 3 kilometres by a number of people down “heaven’s path” . They even have a small portable shrine that children carry. This event takes place 5 minutes from Konosu station.

From official website: http://www.konosu-kanko.jp/

Urawa Music Parade and Dance

July 12th

The music parade is from 13.30 to 15.30 and the “Urawa dance” is from 16.30-21.00. Many of the performers are school students and school bands. Access from Urawa Station West Exit.

From STIB Saitama official Tourist website: http://www.stib.jp/

Kuki Lantern Festival / Tenno Festival

July 12th (and again on July 18th)

This festival celebrates local folklore and is famous throughout Japan. Huge floats of paper lanterns are carried through the town.

From the official festival website: http://kuki.jpn.org/main/kankoukyoukai/maturi/

MORE FESTIVALS COMING NEXT WEEK!