The latest information for the floral fonts (water font with floating flowers) at 800 year old Saimyouji, a LGBTQ+ friendly, discrimination free temple in Kawagoe. Includes information for pink ribbon month in October annually.
The temple is also known as Yokoyama Saimyouji, or Saimyoji or Saimyo / Saimyou Temple. Interestingly, Saimyouzi is the official English spelling of the temple. The temple is located on the outskirts of Kawagoe, beside Kawagoe Park.
Saimyouji is one of only a few temples in Japan that will perform same sex marriages. Moreover, it was the second temple ever in all of Japan to openly promote LGBTQ+ weddings. They started around the time Kawagoe started offering same sex couples special “partnership certificates” that are said to be equivalent to marriage. Saitama City also offer the certificates and Sakado and Kitamoto will do from this month (October 2020).
I found one post by Tokyo Weekender in English, about the very interesting and open minded monk, Akihiro Senda. Father Senda is the 57th chief monk of Saimyou Temple. The thing that stood out most to me from his interview is that he doesn’t just want the temple to be discrimination free, he is working hard to make it that way. He welcomes people of all walks of life, regardless of race, religion or any other reason. I am also impressed by the work he is doing in and for the community. For example, raising awareness about various social issues and extending a hand to those in need.
In order to attract people to the temple the monk Senda introduced two temple mascots. The characters appear on temple merchandise and promotional material. They are even on the vending machine on the grounds. Furthermore, on the grounds of the temple there is a photo prop with the temple mascots. You can put your own face in for a memorable photo! In 2023 they started a unique floral font gachapon. The gacha are made by in a nearby center for people with special needs. But it is the floral fonts, which change regularly with the seasons, that have proved the most successful in attracting visitors…
The temple is perhaps most famous for its stunning floating flowers in water fonts. The flower fonts in Saimyouji are not the type where you wash your hands. That is, they are purely for decorative purposes. If you want to see a floral water font that is also a purifying font (chozuya) in Kawagoe, there is one at Hachimangu with a dragon head font. At Saimyouji at any one time there is at least four water fonts with floating flowers. One of the displays, by the main gate, is a pair set. When they fill all of the fonts at the temple there is a total of seven fonts. The displays change every month, so there is always something new to see at the temple. Moreover, in October 2023 they introduced a brand new, beautiful water font:
The pair font by the temple gate is generally used for anime themed displays. I’ve accumulated a lot of photos over the years, as I tend to visit every month (except for summer)! My favorite display to date was probably the Sailor Moon display, followed closely by the My Neighbor Totoro display. You can see photos of those displays and many more on page 2.
Seasonal flower fonts
There is a font beside the entrance to the temple’s office that is used for seasonal themes. At the moment they have Halloween decorations in the font. Dinky little decorations, no bigger than a finger. And they change year on year – the Halloween font this year is different to last year and the year before! They also put decorations in for Christmas and the Dolls Festival and other occasions throughout the year.
There are several annual events at the temple to foster community and simultaneously create awareness about various social issues.
Temple light up
Saimyouji Pink Ribbon Month
October is Pink Ribbon Month at the temple. In 2020 they gave away free pink ribbon stickers in the temple’s characters motif. In 2021 they have partnered with J Posh, a NPO, for the pink ribbon festival. They have some goods by the the entrance to the temple’s office including a free information booklet about Buddhism. For the occasion, the largest hanachozu has a pink ribbon in the floral display. Also, another display has pink ribbons hanging above it. Furthermore, the temple is lit up pink every (dry) night from October 1st to October 29th 2023, from 6 pm to 9 pm. The light up post linked above this paragraph has more details.
Pink Ribbon Festival
In 2023, they will have a pink ribbon festival on Saturday October 28th from 3 pm to 8pm. At night, they will launch 50 pink sky lanterns, which were donated by the Japan Sky Lantern Association. They are currently accepting applications for the lanterns. You can apply and find more information on their Instagram account:
Saimyoji Temple Information
|Yokoyama Saimyouji Temple
|61 Ogaya, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-1104. View on Google Maps.
|9 am to 7 pm except when there is light up and the temple grounds are open until
|Free to roam, services and merchandise have varying costs. A donation is always polite when you visit a temple (or shrine).
|Official website (interestingly the temple’s official English is Saimyouzi Temple)
The temple is located on the east side of the Kawagoe Park. You can actually walk to the temple from the park via a side entrance by the east side of the lake in the park. Therefore, a bus to the park will also bring you to the temple! Buses bound for Kawagoe Suijo Koen – 川越水上公園 – go from Kawagoe Station. Nishi Kawagoe station, which is on the Kawagoe Line, is about an 11 minute walk from the temple.
If you are approaching the park with its main archway entrance in front of you, the temple is just on the right hand side. You can’t miss the rainbow colored flags. However, they aren’t always up. In order to get into temple by car though, you have to take a steep right turn then wind through narrow residential area roads. There is parking past the temple on the right hand side.