A couple of years ago on my way from Aina Water park to Kawagoe Water park, I thought I’d attempt to beat the traffic and take a back road. On the way I passed this beautiful temple with a wooden gate. I was so intrigued I actually turned the car around, parked and got out of the car for a gander. I was so glad I did. Because there in the middle of a back road in rural Kawagoe lies a beautiful lotus pond. Even though I visited well out of lotus season, I could appreciate the beauty of this unexpected find. A quick look on Google Maps confirmed that it is very popular with those that know it. Moreover, when I researched it that night, it would seem the lotus pond is quite famous.

Zenchoji

Zenchoji Kawagoe’s ancient lotus temple

The name of the temple is Toyoda Zenchoji or just Zenchoji for short. Toyoda is the name of the founder. There is very little information online about the temple’s history. But from what I can tell it was founded early in the 16th century. The current building seems to have been rebuilt in 1785. What is known is that the lotus are approximately 2000 years old. Blows the mind, doesn’t it?

ancient lotus in kawagoe

I attempted to go back last year to see the lotus, but unfortunately I timed it wrong. Supposedly these particular lotus are only in full bloom for a short period of time. If you don’t time it right, like me, you’ll have to wait a whole year to see these 2000 year old lotus in bloom. As for the bloom period: there are very conflicting reports online about this. Some say early June, others say mid July! This year, for what its worth I aiming for the third week in June. At least if I’m too early I can always go back again! They say the best time of the day to see lotus (generally, not just here) is early morning, between 6 and 8 am.

Zenchoji temple lotus garden kawagoe

However, if you do miss the bloom, even out of season the temple grounds are quite picturesque. Even the lotus pond without blooms. The pond is not of the size or scale of Kawagoe’s most famous lotus spot, but like Isanuma these lotus are ancient. Moreover, thanks to the large leaves with the wooden temple gate on one side and the beautiful temple building, the pond is scenic without the flowers in bloom. The red moon bridge in the middle of the pond is barely visible with the wild leaves, but even still it is very photogenic.

Update May 25th 2021: there are some water lilies blooming in the lotus pond:

water lily at Zenchoji May 2021
Water lily at Zenchoji May 25th 2021

Information

There is a vending machine on the grounds. And there are even some places to sit on the temple grounds. On the West side of the temple grounds, beside the graveyard there is a little park – also named after Hayato Toyoda – with some playground equipment. Including an unusual piece – a climbing frame in the shape of an airplane.

The car park for the temple is just across the road and parking is free. There are plenty of spaces for a quiet day, but I imagine during prime lotus viewing it gets quite busy and its hard to get parking. By public transport, the lotus temple is about a twenty minute walk from JR Nishi Kawagoe Station. The park is a short drive to Saimyouji which has gorgeous floral water fonts (chōzuya). Kawagoe summer pools and park is even closer.

Kawagoe’s Lotus / Hasu Temple “Zenchoji”
Address:〒350-1118 Saitama, Kawagoe, Toyodahon, 3-chome−13−8 (Zenchoji Hasu Ike)
Phone:+81492433734
Hours:Unknown, but they seem to be pretty relaxed about people coming and going (within reason of course)
Cost:Free
Online:No official website. Basic page on a temple directory (not official).

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