Category Archives: SHRINES & TEMPLES

Gingko Trees at Ukishima Inari Shrine | Kawagoe

Ukishima Inari Shrine is a little shrine you pass on the walking route from Miyoshino Shrine and Kitain Temple.

 

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The grounds of the shrine have a beautiful water feature and old stone bridge, which unfortunately have been blemished with a vulgar white fence.

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I have passed it a few times in other seasons and just took a mental note of a playground on the grounds.

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However, on passing it on my most recent Kawagoe walking tour, the resplendent Gingko Trees brandished their Autumn glory sparking an interest in this rarely mentioned shrine.

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#NaBloPoMo Post #29

 

Crunching colourful leaves at a Shinto Shrine

Saitama is abundant with free playgrounds. You can find them in the most random of places. Some are huge play jungles with elaborate equipment and others are small minimalist nooks with basic equipment. On our cycle today, we found the latter.

A lot of shrines and temples in rural Saitama have some sort of community facility attached to them. The one we visited today, has both a community centre and a playground. The community centre is locked up, as this type normally are, and only opened for special occasions. It is probably used mostly for the local summer festival.  I often think its such a waste, that it would be great, if they could be used more openly. The playgrounds at shrines and temples, thankfully, tend to be open 24 hours as they have no gated fences around them.

Today, the trees greeted us with the first hints of the splendidness that is to come with the changing of the leaf colours. There were also more leaves carpeting the ground than I had expected. The kids delighted (and I’ll ‘fess up; I did too) in crunching through the green, red and orange leaves decorating the sacred grounds.  It’s been a while since I did a snippet of life type post, so to speak, and with the trees so beautiful today, I was inspired to share!

The Autumn leaves in Japan are absolutely magnificent. 紅葉 ・kouyou Autumn leaves are tracked, reported on and celebrated up and down the country. I never truly appreciated the beauty of Autumn colours, until I had spent a couple of Autumns experiencing their beauty here in Japan.  Have you any recommendations of places to enjoy the splendid colours of Autumn? Please do share in the comments below.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share or comment. 🙂

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/

 

The play area and sakura at Miyoshino Shrine | KAWAGOE

Shinto shrines are plentiful in Japan, almost every village, town or city has one. There are usually amenities available at popular and / or large shrines, including toilets, baby feeding rooms, vending machines and eateries. However, even the smaller shrines usually come with at least one piece of playground equipment. A lot of them have free parking, but in tourist areas it is not uncommon to have to pay. Typically, weekdays it is easy to find a free parking spot, unless it is during a shinto festival time such as the 7-5-3.

Miyoshino Shrine

I really love bringing the children to play on the grounds of a shrine. The surroundings are always pleasant and the grounds are well maintained. The atmosphere is serene and majestic as you enter by a torii onto a stone pavement. The area is usually surrounded by trees, some of which are yorishiro (place inhabited by a kami‘s spirit). There are purification fonts to cleanse your hands, the komainu (lion-dogs) guard the inner shrine, wooden plaques hang with visitor’s prayers and wishes, there is usually at least one minature shrine often with a fox, the diety of rice supposedly. The playground is usually to the side or back of the shrines.

Miyoshino Shrine

Miyoshino Shrine in Kawagoe is one of my favourite shrines to bring toddlers. The playground there is relatively new and the equipment is really suited to children under four. Young kids love the equipment in the shape of a train with climbing and slides. For older children they have a climbing frame, a flying fox, a spring see saw and there is the hill beside the playground that kids love to climb.  There are also swings and a sand pit for children of all ages. The sand pit is enclosed which keeps out the cats and keeps the kids in!

During sakura season this park is ideal for hanami with small children. There are only a few sakura trees, but they are mature and really beautiful in full bloom. It is a popular spot to enjoy a picnic under the cherry blossoms for locals, so do arrive early to secure a spot under a tree. There is plenty of other space on the grounds if you don’t manage to get one of the prime locations. 🙂

Kawagoe Tourist bus passing Honmaru Goten

Miyoshino shrine has free parking (very busy on weekends), toilets, vending machines, a small shop, a pay phone and a yaki-soba counter. There is also a rent-a-bike station nearby. It is right next to the popular tourist attraction Kawagoe Honmaru Goten, the only surviving building of Kawagoe castle.

Address: 2 Chome−25, Kuruwamachi, Kawagoe City, 350-0053

紅葉 Last of the Autumn Leaves? Hikawa Shrine

I went to Hikawa Shrine in Kawagoe today, in the hope of enjoying some vibrant Autumn Leaves. I think I was too late. There is a river out the back entrance to the shrine (where the famous cherry blossom boat ride takes place) that is usually quite impressive, but today I was disappointed that there are few leaves left. I’ll just have to wait until next year!

Access to Hikawa Shrine in Japanese can be found here: http://www.kawagoehikawa.jp/#/access/

Or more information in English on this blog:

Cherry Blossoms on Shingashi River | Kawagoe

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Kawagoe is just 31 minutes from Ikebukuro, Tokyo, on the Tobu Tojo line (jump to access f…

Source: insaitama.com/cherry-blossoms-on-shingashi-river-kawagoe/