Jigenji weeping cherry blossoms

Jigenji’s weeping cherry, a natural monument of Sakado City, was declared “open” this morning, March 22nd 2024. Once ten blossoms have opened on the tree the tree is declared as ‘open’ or as we might say in English; ‘has started to bloom’. Historically, the start of the bloom has also coincided with the specimen tree in Tokyo being declared ‘open’. But this year is the first year that Jigenji’s has started to bloom before Tokyo’s benchmark tree at Yasukuni Shrine. For what its worth, the buds on the specimen tree at Yasukuni are showing signs of nearing bloom.

Jingenji Temple Weeping Cherry

Jigenji

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. Another bit of trivia: the image of the tree was used on postal stamps in 2021!

Prime viewing is generally the fourth week of March. It normally blooms until the end of the first week of April. Last year it was well early. I visited on March 17th 2023 and it was at about 40% bloom. The photos in this post are from March 29th 2021, which wasn’t a great year for the tree. I have seen it in full bloom many times over the years, but only in passing – its on a route I take sometimes!

Jingenji is not only famous for its weeping cherry, but for the dozens of statues within the temple. Before the pandemic, the temple was open to the public during the period of the weeping cherry blossoms. You could 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 unfortunately.

Cherry Blossom Festival and Night Light up

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 2024 due to the pandemic. They confirmed weeks ago there would be no festival in 2024 again.

However, 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, they don’t advertise it and there is information online about the light up in 2024. I will at some chance go to see

In the area

Right now, the Kanzakura at Kitaasaba Cherry Blossom Embankment (Nissai Sakura) are currently in full bloom (March 22nd 2024). They are well worth a visit. Also, the famous dragon temple Seitenkyu is nearby. There is a nice strawberry picking at Shimura Farm too. These secret sakura should start to bloom soon too.


Information

Jigenji Temple
Address:285 Nakaosaka, Sakado, Saitama 350-0206
Phone:Jigenji – 049-280-2205
The Sakado City Tourism Bureau – 049-283-1331
Hours:24 hours
Cost:Free
Online:Jigen Temple (Jigen-ji) official english web page

Access

The problem with Jigenji is access. Before the pandemic there was somewhere to park, but there has been nowhere official to park since 2019. Please do not park on the road or in the neighboring private resident’s land. By public transport you can get a bus from the east exit of Tobu Tojo line’s Wakaba station. Get the bus bound for Higashi Sakado Danchi 東坂戸団地 and get off at the last stop. The temple is about a ten minute walk from the bus stop.

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