the temple of 5000 soaring dragons, Seitenkyu in Sakado Saitama

A must visit in the Year of the Dragon: Seitenkyu, 聖天宮 Sheng Tian Gong, the Holy Celestial Palace of 5000 Soaring Dragons, Japan’s largest Taoist temple.

Dragon temple Seitenkyu

Less than two weeks until the year of the dragon begins. If you want to get some dragon photos for your nengajo (Japanese New Year cards) or your social media posts, one of the best locations for dragon photos is in Saitama Prefecture. Saitama Prefecture is located beside Tokyo. And this dragon location with 5000 soaring dragons is near enough to Tokyo to travel to – it only takes one hour by car and just over that by public transport. For my regular readers you will recognize this temple as I have shared it within other posts several times over the years, but with the year of the dragon soaring, its time to give it a post of its own…

Seitenkyu – the temple of 5000 soaring dragons

According to the temple there are 5000 dragons in one form or other at this temple in rural Sakado City, Saitama Prefecture. Many of them are statues; either large statues that are clearly visible at a glance or smaller statues intricately woven into the embellishment. The remaining dragons are mostly in the magnificent carvings and paintings you can find throughout the temple. You can see some of them holding a “dragon ball”, from which they get their power from the Gods.

Seitenkyu was gifted to the people of Japan from Taiwan. The temple is not a Buddhist temple, it is related to Lao-tsu religion. It is the largest Taoist temple in Japan. Taoism comprises two facets, ‘religion’ and ‘philosophy’ known as the ‘Tao’ or ‘the way’. Unlike the Buddhist temples of Japan which are used for worshipping the dead, Lao-tsu temples are more for praying for the living. Another difference to Buddhist temples is that Laotsu temples actually have statues of their Gods in them. Three Gods are enshrined and you can see three statues of them behind the altar.

10 features not to miss

There are numerous points of interest at / in the temple. The temple highlight the following ten as ‘not to miss’:

  1. The guardian lions – each of which was carved from a single stone.
  2. Commemorative stone monument – carved from a single stone with the words embossed and gilded in gold leaf.
  3. Pillar of 9 dragons – carved from a single 5 meter pillar stone. The nine represents ‘omnipresent’. As they are of the east they are considered auspicious and don’t need wings to fly.
  4. Portal guardians – carved from a 4 meter single piece of solid wood.
  5. The ‘Bagua” – assembled from 10,000 embedded wood parts.
  6. The Yang Bell – symbolizes the beginning.
  7. Yin Drum – symbolizes the end.
  8. Nine dragon web – carved from a single stone and symbolizes the expanse and reach of the Divine.
  9. Qilin with tong zi – an auspicious beast with a hermit boy.
  10. The Tai chi – a particularly large and rare amalgam roof made from curved wood parts embedded in a spiral, swirling as it divides the Yin and and the Yang.
seitenkyu in sakado insaitama.com
Beautiful crepe myrtle grows on the grounds in summer

The temple is located in rural Sakado, with little directly around it. But there are several things to do in the area, including child friendly strawberry picking and a free tour of a Meiji Chocolate factory. Both of those require an advance booking, but you don’t need to book for Seitenkyu. For even more things to do in the Tsukagoshi area of Sakado:

Year of the Dragon

Seitenkyu is just one of dozens of places you can find dragons in Saitama Prefecture. Another of the better ones is Yamaguchi Kannon in Tokorozawa, which I hope to share more information about soon. Seitenkyu used to have a dragon festival, when I first moved to Saitama, but I haven’t seen any information for it in recent years. But in neighboring Tsurugashima there is a not to miss dragon festival on each year of the Dragon;

Information

Temple: Seitenkyu, 聖天宮 Sheng Tian Gong

Season: open all year round, 365 days a year. 2024 and 2036 are the next years of the dragon. Particularly beautiful in spring when the weeping cherry blossoms are in bloom or in July when the crepe myrtle are flowering.

Hours: from 10 am to 4 pm.

Cost: 500 yen entrance fee.

Address: Seitenkyu 51−1 Tsukagoshi, Sakado, Saitama 350-0209. View on Google Maps.

Access

There is free parking at the temple. By public transport the nearest station is Wakaba Station on the Tobu Tojo line. From that station it is about a 30 to 35 minute walk, but you can also get a bus part of the way. From bus stop number 2 get a bus to in front of Tomiya Crossroads 戸宮交差点前, it takes about four or five minutes and then its about a seven minute walk from the bus stop to the temple.

Official website

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