Cherry blossom festival, Kitain Temple, Kawagoe City, Saitama, Japan 2020. Kitain is a stunning Buddhist temple with pagoda in the tourist city of Kawagoe – a popular day trip destination from Tokyo.
There are two main ways you can celebrate the blooming of cherry blossoms in Japan; hanami, which involves picnicking under a cherry tree, or a Sakura matsuri, literally cherry blossom festival. Each year Kitain Temple have a festival from around the end of March to early April, but in 2020 it will be more a hanami without the picnic.
In 2020 in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 Novel Coronavirus, some changes have been made to the Cherry Blossom festival at Kitain. The festival is scheduled from March 21st to April 10th. For the 2020 sakura (cherry blossom) season drinking and eating on the grounds of Kitain are forbidden. Subsequently there will be no food and drink stalls this year. And they also request that you do not bring your own food and drink either.
There is no advice on their website yet as to whether you can sit under the sakura. If they’ve put out blue sheets, as per the above photo, you can sit under the trees so long as you neither drink nor eat. They have also not yet released information about whether they will have any performances or other special events, but it seems unlikely at this point in time. And it remains to be seen if they will put up the festival lanterns.
Our experience at Kitain Sakura festival
We have visited the sakura matsuri in Kitain several times in the past. Generally we buy food there as a treat for the kids. They enjoy eating festival food and shaved ice. It is a shame they will have neither in 2020 due to Coronavirus. Usually, apart from blue sheets under the trees to sit on, they also have tables and chairs in tent like eating areas made from tarp covers.
When my kids were smaller they also liked playing in the colorful playground at the temple. Its small, but its away from the main area and relatively quiet and a good place for kids to chill out.
But even without a festival, the cherry blossoms at Kitain are stunning. I would have loved to attempt taking some artistic shots, but with 4 kids in tow that was not a possibility. But even for the non photographer like myself, with such mature rich cherry blossoms its easy to get a decent shot of the captivating blooms.
Hours: 9 am to 4 pm, the temple usually opens late for the festival until 9 pm.
Dates: open seven days a week
KITAIN TEMPLE OFFICIAL SITES
In English: https://www.kawagoe.com/kitain/english/
In Japanese: https://www.kawagoe.com/kitain/
Access from Kawagoe Station
All prices from 2015.
Koedo Kawagoe bus one day pass allows you unlimited travel on the Koedo Kawagoe buses. It costs 300 yen. In the bus they have a monitor with sightseeing information. Some tourist places give discounts on souvenirs or entrance tickets to people with a one day pass.
Koedo Meguri (Loop) Bus from Kawagoe station. You can buy a one day pass that allows you unlimited travel on the Meguri Bus. It stops at 16 different locations. 104 different shops, offer discount services such as souvenirs, food, and entrance fees to facilities for holders of this day pass. There are announcements in English and Chinese as well as Japanese so foreigners can feel at ease.
More information here:
Kawagoe Access by train from Tokyo and Omiya
- 31 minutes from Ikebukuro on a express train on the Tobu Tojo Line. 470 yen
- 44 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku on a Red Arrow Limited Express. 420 yen for the express ticket, plus base fare.
- 66 minutes from Shinjuku or 62 minutes from Takadanobaba on Seibu Shinjuku Line. You can buy one round trip ticket for 700 yen for either of those stations.
- 54 minutes from JR Shinjuku on a rapid train of the Saikyo/Kawagoe line. 760 yen.
- 28 minutes on a regular train from Omiya on the Saikyo/Kawagoe Line or 22 minutes on the rapid train.
- The Fukutoshin and Yurakucho subways connect to the Tobu Tojo line at Wako-shi. Some of them go all the way to Kawagoe (and beyond) too.
Access by Car
About 21 kilometres from Nerima to Kawagoe using the Kanetsu Expressway. The toll for the expressway is about 840 yen.
About 40 kilometres from Hinode using the Ken-o highway. The toll is about 1400 yen.
Other seasonal information about Kitain
Autumn Leaves at Kitain Temple:
New Year’s Special Event every year on January 3rd:
First written in 2015 and updated in 2020 with the information regarding the effects of COVID-19 on the annual cherry blossom festival.