Cherry Blossoms 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.
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. Pictures of that near the bottom of the post. In addition, you can even see the cherry blossoms at night as they are lit up. The featured image above is from Hikawa Shrine’s Facebook page.
Cherry Blossoms Shingashi River
- Shingashi River Sakura at the back of Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
- 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 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, 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”.
Current condition: this section will be updated as the trees start to flower. In 2021, the sakura on Shingashi River bloomed earlier than an ‘average’ year. You can see the most recent photos, from 2021 here. On January 9th 2022, the trees were still completely bare.
The boat ride on the Shingashi River under the cherry blossoms is one event during the larger Kawagoe Spring Festival. Currently, 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.
Before and after the event, 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, but it is only once a year that the Cherry Blossom Boat Ride is open to the general public and free. When the event is on, it is open to the public without a booking and is free. Tickets are distributed, subject to availability, from in front of the Kita Kominkan on the far side of the bridge to the Hikawa shrine back entrance. In addition, the location is marked on a map I made below the access map.
Boat ride behind Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine 2022
I will put the information here when it becomes available. In the meantime, you can see some photos of the cherry blossoms and boat above!
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.
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.
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
Its 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.
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!