Cherry Blossoms and boat ride, Shingashi River – Kawagoe is just 31 minutes from Ikebukuro, Tokyo, on the Tobu Tojo line. It is a popular tourist town. One of Kawagoe’s most spectacular spots to enjoy “sakura” is out the back of Hikawa shrine, where the cherry blossoms line the Shingashi River. Until recent years it was mainly locals and off-the-beaten-track tourists who enjoyed its splendor, but nowadays the cherry blossom attract thousands of admirers. Last update, March 26th 11.59 pm.
One of the reasons it is such a popular cherry blossom viewing spot is because you can get a photo of a paddle boat being steered down the river under the blossoms, by a man in a festival happi coat and a traditional sugegasa hat. Moreover, if you time it right you get to see a stunning river of pink petals, as per the above photo. There are some more pictures of the pink river near the bottom of the post. In addition, you can even see the cherry blossoms at night as they are lit up. The image above is from Hikawa Shrine’s Facebook page, circa 2015.
Cherry Blossoms Shingashi River
- Shingashi River Sakura at the back of Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
- The latest news
- Current condition of the cherry blossoms
- Boat ride
- River of pink
- Night Light up
- Information and access
Shingashi River Sakura
There are approximately 100 mature cherry blossom trees (and about 60 young sakura) along a 500 meter stretch of the Shingashi River behind Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. The cherry blossoms aren’t actually part of Kawagoe Hikawa SHrine, but they are often associated with the shrine due to the proximity of the shrine to the river and the sakura. Plus, Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine usually run updates on the sakura during the season.
However, it was actually the then owner of Kameya Eisen, a shop established in 1783 and that still exists today, who planted the sakura in 1957. He planted 300 seeds in commemoration of the war dead (of which about 100 still exist today), including two of his own sons who never made it back from World War II. He did plant the sakura near the shrine intentionally though, as Kawagoe Hikawa shrine is the guardian shrine of Kawagoe. And he named the cherry blossoms “Homarezakura”. In Japanese, 誉桜 – homare means honorable, so “honorable cherry blossoms”.
The latest news
In 2022, for the 100 year anniversary of Kawagoe becoming a city (from a domain), they planted some new cherry blossom trees along the Shingashi River. They have actually planted a few others over the years to ‘fill’ a couple of blank spots along the river. Moreover, in
December 2022 (delayed, postponed until) March 19th 2023, Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine will reveal its new garden which will be visible from this cherry blossom spot. Until 2019 they had a large building that backed onto the river. The front of the building was very picturesque, but the back of it which was what was visible from the cherry blossom avenue, was quite unsightly. The new building and garden will blend much better and add an extra aesthetic to this already beautiful cherry blossom spot.
Current condition ~ Latest update March 20th 2023
Update ④ March 26th 2023: unfortunately I have no photo for this update. I had planned to visit again this weekend, but it wasn’t to be. But according to Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine the sakura have been in full bloom (which means more than 70% bloom) since around Friday. Please note, this weekend’s non stop rain may have greatly effected the condition of the sakura.
Update ③ March 20th 2023: they are in bloom! Not 100% and some more than others, but they should definitely be in full bloom for the weekend. Moreover, they were putting up the festival lanterns while I was there. Whoop! They’ve been in storage for three years so they look a bit grubby up close, but its so good to see them again! And as you can see from today’s photo – there is a boat going up and down the river. Just one today, but, weather permitting, I’d say they will have two from the 25th.
The festival lanterns have a special meaning to me, so the photo above is a bonus photo for this update! As you can see, they are currently only on one side of the river. But as aforementioned, they were only putting them up this afternoon so by tomorrow you should be able to see them on both sides. The current featured photo, at the top of the post, was also taken today.
Update ② March 15th 2023: several buds tree have opened on the tree closest to the bridge. There are also a few trees with one to five buds that have opened. There are still no festival lanterns up.
Update ① March 10th 2023: buds on the trees. And the two kawazuzakura (so as not to confuse the issue, the kawazuzakura have a post of their own) are in full bloom, about 9 days earlier than last year. There are no festival lanterns up yet, but they have small camp lanterns hanging on the fence.
The boat ride on the Shingashi River under the cherry blossoms is one event during the larger Kawagoe Spring Festival. Normally, the Cherry Blossoms Shingashi River boat ride isn’t accessible to the general public, but each year on one day it is open to the public. However, in both 2020 and 2021 the event was cancelled on account of the Coronavirus. BUT in 2021 the boat did go up and down the river, sans passengers, during the peak period. Thus, you could get a photo of it. In 2022, the event was limited to Kawagoe residents only. In 2023, there are once again conditions, but thankfully it is not restricted to Kawagoe-jin only.
In 2023, the date that the general public (who have a ticket) can ride the boat is Sunday March 26th. Please note that all the tickets have been sold for this event. But you can still enjoy the sight of a man in a festival happi coat and a traditional sugegasa hat driving the boat down the river. March 26th is the one and only day that the general public can ride the Cherry Blossom Boat, but the boats go up and down the river every fine day. A lot has changed with this event since before the pandemic. For one, you didn’t need to buy a ticket in advance before the pandemic. The event was free and tickets were distributed on the morning of the event. Now, you have to pay 800 yen and you have to buy a ticket well in advance. You can get all the details for the 2023 event information in the exclusive boat ride event post:
Boat ride behind Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
River of pink
After many years of trying to time it right, I finally got to see the river completely decorated in pink petals with my own eyes on April 10th 2017. Regrettably I am not a photographer. Moreover, I didn’t have my Canon camera at the time so I couldn’t do it justice at all. However, this will give you an idea:
Night light up
While the cherry blossoms are in full bloom you can also view them at night until 10 pm as they light lanterns along the riverside walkway. In 2021 even though the festival was cancelled, they actually lit up the cherry blossoms at night. Not with lanterns though, just with flood lights. In 2022, Kawagoe City said they weren’t lighting them up at night. BUT, they actually did light them up (as seen with my own eyes on March 29th 2022!). In 2023, the festival lanterns have gone up for the first time in years.
Information For Cherry Blossoms Shingashi River
The cherry blossoms don’t ‘belong’ to Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, but they are often referred to as the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine cherry blossoms. Because the sakura and the Shingashi river are located behind the shrine. In 2022 for the centennial celebrations of the city, Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine displayed pinwheels from early March until at least the end of the sakura season. However, in 2023, there are currently (March 20th) no pinwheels at the shrine.
※You might also like: autumn flowers along the Shingashi River in Kawagoe.
Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
Address:2-11-3 Miyashitamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0052
Cherry blossoms and parking mapped. (However, please note since last year – 2021 – the parking is no longer free):
Scroll below the map for directions
The cherry blossoms are about 21 kilometers 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. It is about a 20 minute drive from both the Kawagoe Interchange of the Kan-etsu expressway AND the Kawajima Interchange of the Ken-o expressway to the car park.
By Public Transport
Access from Kawagoe Station
Koedo Kawagoe bus one day pass allows you unlimited travel on the Koedo Kawagoe buses. It costs 300 yen. In addition, the buses have a monitor with sightseeing information. Moreover, 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. Also 104 different shops, offer discount services such as souvenirs, food, and entrance fees to facilities for holders of this day pass. In addition, there are announcements in English and Chinese as well as Japanese so foreigners can feel at ease. More information here:
Getting to Kawagoe from Tokyo and Omiya
- It takes just 31 minutes from Ikebukuro on a express train on the Tobu Tojo Line. 470 yen
- However, from Seibu Shinjuku it takes 44 minutes 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 also connect to the Tobu Tojo line at Wako-shi. Some of them go all the way to Kawagoe (and beyond) too.
Shingashi River, behind Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine in Saitama, just North of Tokyo
Shingashi River, behind Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, Saitama, just North of Tokyo
More on Hikawa Shrine on this blog:
- Early bloomers on the Shingashi River and a randoseru blessing!
- Wind chimes (Furin) at Hikawa Shrine
- Autumn Leaves at Hikawa Shrine
Other points of interest in Kawagoe
The below is just a small sample, use the Kawagoe tag to find even more posts about Kawagoe!
- 10 Cherry Blossom Spots Kawagoe
- Free Shoyu Factory Tour at Matsumoto Soy Sauce | KAWAGOE
- 10 things to do in Kawagoe with kids
- Kawagoe 3D Trick Art Museum | KAWAGOE
- Hatsuneya Garden Cafe | KAWAGOE
Editor’s note: the original date of this post was lost due to frequent updates! But it was republished on March 31st 2016 with the latest information for that year. Between 2016 and 2023 I updated it annually, but never republished. I opted to republish in on March 20th 2023, so the information would be visible to new followers and older subscribers who haven’t gotten a notification for this post in 7 years!