Category Archives: SHRINES & TEMPLES

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 in 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, 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

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 will bring you close. There is free parking for 300 cars.  The event closes August 31st.

On August 7th Hikawa Shrine have their annual Tanabata (Star) Festival. At that time, 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.

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/

Play areas at Shinto Shrines

Shinto shrines are plentiful in Japan, almost every village, town or city has one. There are usually amenities available at popular 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.

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.

Today, we visited Miyoshino Shrine in Kawagoe for the first time. It is not that far from us, 15 minutes by car, but I never knew it was there until planning a route to a library on google maps last night! It has free parking, toilets, vending machines, a small shop and a yaki-soba counter. There is also a rent-a-bike station nearby. The playground is most suited to smaller children, but there is a flying fox and climbing frame that is geared towards older children. It has a sandpit and swings suitable for all ages. Some photos of the shrine grounds and playground equipment below.

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/