Kawagoe has dozens of equinox flower, aka red spider lily, spots. Several of them quite hidden from the mass public. Equinox flowers is the literal translation of “higanbana”, a flower most commonly called red spider lily in English. I generally use “Red Spider lily” myself, but for this post I will use Equinox flower to make that term searchable. Also, I’ve included a little on the origin of the “higanbana” equinox flower name.
Kawagoe Equinox Flowers
Remarkably, Kawagoe is not a city that is particularly known for its equinox flowers aka red spider lilies. Despite having one location that is actually in Saitama’s official top 100 scenes. However, my favorite are not the listed equinox flowers, but hidden equinox flowers in an unknown corner of Kawagoe. So completely off the beaten path in wasteland that I have only once ever met another living soul there. And that’s saying a lot as I go there often during the equinox season! However, the flowers were cut down prematurely in 2020 and they were not maintained in 2021, so they haven’t been at their best since 2019. I am optimistic that in 2022 they will once again enchant the hidden woods in rural Kawagoe*.
*Update September 21st 2022: Unfortunately, the spider lilies are not great this year. I think its due to the typhoon that passed through on Monday. There are broken branches from trees, leaves and debris all around the park. And many of the spider lilies were decapitated or are keeling over. There is just one small area where they went unscathed.
One, of many, names for spider lilies in Japanese is “higanbana”. Bana (from hana) denotes flower and Higan is associated with the Autumnal equinox. Moreover, higan means “the other side”. Ohigan falls on the equinoctial week and is the name of a 7 day Buddhist event when people pay their respects to the dead. Higanbana were thus named because they usually bloom around the Autumnal equinox.
In 2022, September 20th is “higaniri” 彼岸入り , which is the start day of the 7 day period of Ohigan to honor the dead. The main day of the period is “higan no chuunichi” or, these days, most commonly called “Shubun no Hi”. Which is thee day of the Autumnal equinox. The event is so significant in Japanese culture that “higan no chuunichi” aka “Shubun no Hi”, what we call the autumnal equinox day, is a national public holiday annually. This year its September 23rd. Thus September 26th will be “higanake”, which marks the end of the equinoctial week.
Secret Equinox Flower Spot in Kawagoe
The hidden equinox flowers of Kawagoe are in a very small park called Ikebe park. Despite being remote and on wasteland, Ikebe park is actually relatively close to Kawagoe Park, by car. Kawagoe park also have spider lilies. Not just in the park, but also along the adjacent road called “Higanbana Komichi” or Spider Lily lane in English! Despite several visits to the secret spot in Ikebe park, I have never managed to get a good photo of the spider lilies there. None of the photos I have do it justice. But hopefully the video above will give you an idea of what its like.
The entrance to the park is hidden down a dirt road to the floodplains of the Iruma River near Yase Bridge. Which is a good spot to watch the Kawagoe Fireworks when they are on at Aina Water Park. As you may have already heard, in 2022 you need a ticket to watch from Aina Water Park* where the fireworks are launched. The tickets sold out within days of going on sale. The Yase Ohashi Green Space, which can be accessed from the same dirt road as Ikebe park, usually has a view of the fireworks. But I make no promises / no guarantees. Please, if you are mentioning this to anyone else, please keep your karma good and credit insaitama!
*The Kawagoe Fireworks alternate launch sites each year. In 2022, they were at Aina Water Park, in 2023 they will be at Isanuma Park on the other side of Kawagoe. The Yase Ohashi Green Space is only viable when the fireworks are launched at the Aina Water Park.
Ikebe park Information
Address: 1234 Ikenobe, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-1171.
Phone: to Kawagoe City Hall
Hours: 24 hours in theory, but the car park maybe roped off at night.
There is no official website or even web page, but Kawagoe City has a couple of mentions of it on their website. However, its not even listed on their “Parks” page, which could be interpreted a few different ways. For example, they may want to keep it hidden. But what I fear – it may not be around for much longer. Just speculation though and hopefully unfounded.
About eight minutes from the Kawagoe Interchange of the Kanetsu expressway or twenty minutes from the Tsurugashima Interchange of the Ken-O expressway. The park is close to the Yase Ohashi Minami intersection of the Kawagoe-Ogose line, which is route 114. Please note there are only four parking spots.
The Kawagoe City route 23 Loop bus actually goes relatively close. The park is about a five minute walk from the Ikebe bus stop.