I went to Hikawa Jinja in Kawagoe today, in the hope of enjoying some vibrant Autumn Leaves. I didn’t time it very well; I was too early with the autumn blooms still nowhere in sight. Also, the higanbana that also in Autumn on the Shingashi river where gone by then. But I knew they would be as they have a short blooming period at the end of September and early October. However, the cosmos on the river were still in bloom. Jump to shrine renovation news for 2020.
When I wrote this post in 2013, Hikawa jinja was nothing more than our family shrine. In fairness, it was famous as the shrine from which the Kawagoe Festival began. And for good fortune in love as well as the mysterious unknown treasure secured in the shrine. But it did not enjoy the volume of visitors it does today. The shrine put itself on the tourist trail with younger visitors in particular thanks to a number of marketing drives. Perhaps, the most famous and popular is the annual wind chime display which started a year or two after I wrote this post!
For many years Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja was the place where my family and I conducted shinto rituals, such as 7-5-3 in Autumn and blessings for our babies when they were born. It is also where we bought (sometimes still do) amulets and blessings. Ironically, we rarely get to pray or carry out rituals there anymore because of its popularity. For example, for many years we celebrated hatsumode there. We had to stop due to the queues. Its actually normal for there to be queues for hatsumode, but not to the level of Hikawa. The last time we tried to worship there for New Year the queue – no exaggeration – was a kilometer long.
However, there are times of the year when it is not too busy and we can still carry out some rituals. For example, the randoseru blessing in early March. That happens before the somei yoshino come into bloom on the Shingashi river behind the shrine. Which is another annual event that attracts thousands of visitors. There are actually some early blooming cherry blossoms that bloom around the time of the randoseru blessing and before the somei yoshino.
Autumn at Hikawa Jinja
There aren’t that many colors in Hikawa Jinja even in Autumn. Kitain Temple is where you want to go for spectacular autumn scenery in Kawagoe. But there is a little maple tree that has colored our omiamaeri and 7-5-3 photos over the years. And there are also more maple by the back entrance to the shrine.
Also at the back entrance to the shrine there are a few camellia trees that are usually quite impressive, but I was too early for them too. Both the maple and camellia tend to be best in early December. I’ll just have to wait until next time! The trees on the Shingashi river are bare, but they look quite picturesque bare. At the time of writing this in 2013 the Shingashi river at the back of Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja was somewhere only locals enjoyed. But thanks to the efforts of the shrine and social media the river and its cherry blossoms with a boat ride went viral circa 2015.
Hikawa Jinja Photos Autumn 2013
Without further ado, the photos I did take today!
Another annual event at Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja not to miss is the “glistening river” in summer:
News for Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine in 2020
On August 1st 2020, the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine announced that they would be tearing down the Kaikan (function rooms and Enmusubi cafe). The kaikan was left unveiled for a few weeks after the announcement, for people to take commemorative photos. However, by mid September they had put up hoarding. On my last visit, December 11th, 2020 they had already started to demolish the building.
The shrine are downsizing the kaikan and will instead build a smaller function hall. The land will be transformed into a landscaped garden with a “warm and refreshing forest”. And there are also plans to add another stone torii. They initially said they planned to be closed for almost two years. No re-opening / unveiling date has been set. I will update nearer to the time when the release the date, but it looks like that might be 2022.
Hikawa Jinja Information
Hours: 9 am to 9 pm
Cost: free to roam the grounds and take photos. If you wish to worship you can use anything from a 1 yen contribution. Omikuji, religious fortunes, cost about 300 yen on average. Amulets cost around 500 yen. Religious ceremonies and rituals have varying costs. As a guideline a 5000 yen donation or more is required.
Kawagoe Access by train from Tokyo and Omiya
- 31 minutes from Ikebukuro on a express train on the Tobu Tojo Line.
- 44 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku on a Red Arrow Limited Express.
- 66 minutes from Shinjuku or 62 minutes from Takadanobaba on Seibu Shinjuku Line.
- 54 minutes from JR Shinjuku on a Saikyo/Kawagoe line rapid train.
- 28 minutes on a regular train from Omiya on the Saikyo/Kawagoe Line or 22 minutes on the rapid train.
Access by Car
The shrine is about 21 kilometers from Nerima to Kawagoe using the Kanetsu Expressway. The toll for the expressway is about 840 yen (2015).
The Kawajima Interchange of the Ken-o expressway is about seven kilometers from the shrine. Take route 254 to the main crossroads for the Saitama University Hospital and turn right.