Jigenji Temple and Sakado’s secret sakura spots
Jigenji’s weeping cherry is a natural monument of Sakado City. It is also an image on a 2021 postal stamp! Honestly, while the weeping cherry is famous and attracts hundreds of visitors annually, it wouldn’t make any of my personal “top 10” or even “top 100” lists. However, there is some really stunning sakura in the area. And some of the sakura spot locations are so secret they are not even on Google Maps. And in this day in age, in this part of Saitama, that is really rare. I introduce one of Sakado’s dozen secret sakura spots in this post. And also another stunning spot, Higashi Sakado Danchi, that is not secret as such, but it is surprisingly not that famous. But it is well known within Saitama Prefecture.
Jingenji Temple Weeping Cherry
The weeping cherry at Jingenji is more than 250 years old. It started to decay and was threatened around fifteen years ago. But a group of volunteers in the neighborhood started preservation efforts and brought the tree back to life. However, it is a continuous effort to keep the cherry alive and well. Thus, around the time of the bloom the volunteer group normally organize some fundraising. Prime viewing is generally the fourth week of March. It normally blooms until the end of the first week of April. 2023: I visited on March 17th 2023 and it was at about 40% bloom.
Jingenji is not only famous for its weeping cherry, but for the dozens of statues within the temple. In a non coronavirus year, the temple is open to the public during the period of the weeping cherry blossoms. You can peruse their collection of statues, some of which are unique or rare. For example, the statue of the King of Hell “Enma”. However, this year the opening times are still limited on account of the pandemic.
Cherry Blossom Festival and Night Light up
The opening hours of the temple are not only limited. Unfortunately the pandemic has also effected the events at the temple. Normally, during the bloom period the temple host a cherry blossom festival on one day. Generally on a weekend at the end of March or early April. During the day they have live performances. They also have a live performance at night. Moreover, the 15 meter tall weeping cherry is lit up at night. However, there has been no festival between 2020 and 2022 due to the pandemic. There is currently no information for 2023.
But even though there has been no festival since the pandemic began, they have been lighting up the tree at night during the pandemic (during the bloom period only). Unfortunately, there is no information online about the light up in 2023 and there was no-one at the temple today (March 17th 2023) to ask. I had hoped there might be a poster or flyer on the grounds, but I didn’t see one. But I also didn’t have a lot of time to look around properly. The parking lot was closed so I had to park on the road, which I don’t like doing, so I just ran in for a quick prayer and quick look for information! I had really hoped there would be somebody there, because I also wanted to ask if there was somewhere else for parking!
Higashi Sakado Danchi
A danchi is the Japanese for a large cluster of residential apartment blocks or houses. When it is houses it is what we call a housing estate in Ireland. I don’t think we have a word for a group of apartment blocks like what you see here in Japan. There’s literally dozens of four storey apartment blocks in Higashi Sakado Danchi. There is no parking for casual visitors at the danchi, so we park at Jingenji and walk down. It is just a five minute walk from the temple. But the walk along the river is a good 700 meters one way.
When there is no pandemic you can picnic under the cherries. And it is a very popular place for locals to hanami. However, in 2021 they had signs up to say you couldn’t sit under the sakura. They also requested that you do no not eat and drink in the area. I don’t know the situation in 2023. But as of March 17th 2023, the sakura have started to flower.
Secret Sakura Spot Sakado
A short drive from the danchi there is a stunning sakura spot. Its a small park, more like a garden, but the sakura are breathtaking. It is not actually a place I had planned for today’s post. I was going to introduce another secret location. But we serendipitously ended up at this secret spot today and I just have to introduce it. I will hopefully get around to introducing other “secret spots” in the area in due course.
Thanks to my love of adventure and propensity for taking back roads we ended up at this gem today. The kids recognized it once we got closer. Ironically, it turns out it is a place my husband has brought the kids on bike rides several times over the years. But today was my first visit. There is little park there. And there’s only about 40, maybe 50, trees. But it is really beautifully done. There is a portaloo toilet. There are also a few benches and even a picturesque gazebo. Moreover, there is beautiful rapeseed in the area too.
Unfortunately, in 2023 they are still doing some work in the area and the parking lot is still off limits.
The unnamed secret Sakura spot
This sakura spot has no name that we can find! There are a couple of stone monuments in the park that explain the purpose of the park. And that the trees were planted in 2008. As I said above, the location is not on Google Maps. Nor is the only identifying building beside it. The park is not on a physical Mapple map either. However, Mapple thankfully names the building next door. Its called Satsuki Clean Center.
The park is in Sakado, but it is right on the border of Kawagoe. On the embankment at the top of the small park you can stand with one foot in Kawagoe, one in Sakado! However, if you are coming by car, you have to come in from the Sakado side. A small tributary of the Oppe River divides the two cities. There is no way to get over it from Kawagoe by car. You can do it along the embankment by foot or bicycle.
Thankfully despite its remote location and obscurity there is actually a large sized car park. Update 2023: unfortunately the car park is still off limits (as it was in 2022 too) as they are doing some work in the area. I think the car park may actually be for the rainwater catchment pump which is another landmark in the area – also not on Google Maps (insert sideward laughing face here!).
In the area
If you happen to be in the area to visit the famous Seitenkyu or strawberry picking at Shimura Farm or visiting Jigen-ji, it is a nice secret sakura spot to stop off at. It is also a nice spot for a rest on a cycle along the Oppe or Koaze rivers. The two rivers run parallel in this area. This area featured on the news a lot back in 2019 after typhoon Hagibis, because it was very badly flooded. From the embankment, you can see the old folks home frequently mentioned on the news back then as it was flooded by the Koaze River.
You can also see the Asahi Heliport from the embankment. But whatever you do don’t use that as a landmark for Google navigation. Asahi Heliport is located between both Koaze and Oppe Rivers and is equally hard to access by car and the entry point is miles from the entry point for the sakura-spot with no name! I digress. Within the nameless sakura park, there is a spot, right between two sakura trees where you can see one of the helicopter take off pads. We waited for ages today for a helicopter to take off, but unfortunately none did while we were there. It would have made an ace photo!
South East Sakado Sakura Information
|Address:||Jigenji Temple, 285 Nakaosaka, Sakado, Saitama 350-0206|
Higashi Sakado Danchi, 2 Chome Higashisakado, Sakado, Saitama 350-0205
The sakura spot with no name, 1668-1 Kōya, Sakado, Saitama 350-0204
|Phone:||Jigenji – 049-280-2205|
The Sakado City Tourism Bureau – 049-283-1331
|Online:||Jigen Temple (Jigen-ji) official english web page|
All photos by me! And are unedited.
you forget what it’s like when you haven’t been for ages. Wow!
How long has it been?