Weeping cherry blossom Nakain, Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, Japan
Nakain – Naka Temple – is the middle temple of a three Buddhist temple complex built in 830 ad. The most famous of the three is nearby Kitain. Collectively they were known as the Muryojuji. It is said that tea in the Kanto region started in the temples of these gardens, 25 years after tea was first introduced in Japan.
Supposedly a priest Jikaku brought the seeds from Mt Hiei which was part of the region where tea started in Japan, currently recognised as the prefecture Shiga. He planted them in the gardens of Muryojuji. The long and the short of it is that Nakain is recognised as the birthplace of Sayama Tea. There is a large stone monument commemorating this claim to fame in the garden of the temple.
That Nakain is the birthplace of green tea in Kanto is surprisingly a little known fact outside of the tea community. But what Nakain is well known for is its weeping cherry blossom. The grounds of Nakain are quite small, but the garden is beautifully landscaped to shine in every season. Not least spring.
Weeping cherry blossom Nakain
This year 2020 we are still waiting to see if the annual light up of the weeping cherry blossom will go ahead. But even if it doesn’t, the temple is not closed to the public during this surreal time of COVID-19 closures and cancellations. As such you can still view the “shidare sakura” when it blooms. That is usually end of March to early April.
There are other cherry blossom trees on the grounds of the temples. About 20 in total. The temple is not as busy as other neighboring temples and is more of a tranquil retreat. However, during the period of the cherry blossoms it experiences an influx of visitors, particularly photographers.
Weeping Cherry Blossom and Green Tea
During the cherry blossom season Nakain goes back to its roots, pun intended, by combining a green tea experience with hanami in its Sakura Cafe. Unfortunately in 2020 it is likely that the Sakura cafe will not be available. We are still awaiting confirmation.
Nakain Temple Information
Hours: not specified. However, during the cherry blossom period the temple is usually lit up at night until 9 pm.
By car: About a 14 minute drive (5.5 kilometers) from the Kawagoe Interchange of the Kanetsu expressway. There is free parking in two separate car parks. One is in front of the temple and one is to the side. Both are on one way streets so do be careful how you enter or exit.
By public transport: about a 12 minute walk from Seibu’s Hon Kawagoe station. And about a 20 minute walk from the JR and Tobu Tojo lines Kawagoe station. You can also use the Koedo Meguri bus and alight at “Nakain” bus stop.
At the moment, we don’t yet. Many places have already given notification of cancelling events due to COVID-19, but as of March 4th 2020 Nakain have not yet released an official statement.
Yes there are two main free parking lots at Nakain in Kawagoe.