Glistening river, love lights and glowing wind chimes: Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine by night in 2022.
An illuminous “Hikaru Kawa”, glistening river, love lights and wind chimes lit up at night. Legend goes that the Iruma River used to glisten at night. And the source was the Hikawa God. The Hikaru Kawa is a tribute to this legend, outlined below. All the photos in this post are from 2019. In 2020 the wind chime event went ahead. However, the night time events were cancelled, thus the glistening river wasn’t on. In 2021, the wind chimes were lit up at night, but the glistening river wasn’t on. Thankfully in 2022, they are planning a more “usual” summer and currently (May 20th 2022) everything is scheduled to go ahead. The only difference is – the precincts will close at 8 rather than 9 pm.
Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine by night
Since 2014 Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine has held an annual wind chime event. A few years ago they also started lighting up both the chimes and the small stream on the grounds of the shrine at night. Night time, in my humble opinion, is even more glorious. Particularly the “hikaru kawa”, glistening river, a stunning scene of light and colors, with a dash of the milky way thrown in. But first, the light up…
Throughout the year the shrine is normally open until 9 pm at night. However, since 2020 the shrine is closing at 8 pm due to the pandemic. The shrine is lit up most nights. But during the summer, for two glorious months, they also light up the small river at the shrine. Moreover, the famous and hugely popular wind chimes are also lit up. In 2022, the period of light up is from Saturday July 2nd to Sunday September 4th.
The 888 wind chimes, a significant number in matters of love in Japan, are lit up from dusk to closing. There are actually 2000 wind chimes in total, at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, but they light up the main “tunnel of love”. There are also some lit up by the stone torii! In 2019 they introduced new night time illuminous wind chimes “love lights” (koi akari in Japanese) that are displayed from the end of July to the end of August only. You could buy them as amulets too.
Glistening river / Milky Wave
One of the main and most photographed attractions at the shrine is the “glistening river” / milky wave stream. The small religious stream on the grounds of the stream is lit up each night between 7 and
9 8 pm. They use projection mapping and dry ice to create the impression of the milky way. Unfortunately the event did not run in 2020 or 2021 due to the Coronavirus. It is scheduled for 2022 though.
The legend of the glistening river
An old document pertaining to the history of Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine claims the reason the current site was chosen for the location of the shrine was due to a glistening river.
Legend says that from 1,500 years ago the Iruma river used to glisten at night. When the light source was followed it led to the site where Hikawa shrine now stands. As it was believed the light source was that of the Hikawa God, they chose that location for the shrine.
The Milky Way stream annual event at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine is a tribute to the legend.
Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine Information
Hours: 9 am to 9 pm (8 pm since 2020)
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. The “koi akari” love lights are more expensive. Religious ceremonies and rituals have varying costs. As a guideline a 5000 yen donation or more is required for a ceremony.
Events at the shrine
- Ritual Blessings all year round including, for example, hatsumode at New Year and 7-5-3 in autumn
- Randoseru blessing in March
- Pinwheels in June (in 2022 they are on from February in celebration of 100 years of Kawagoe city)
- This “enmusubi furin” and twinkling event in July and August
- Tanabata festival in August
- Kawagoe Festival in autumn
Address: 2-chōme-11-3 Miyashitamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0052
The majority of the tourist buses, such as Coedo Loop bus, have a bus stop near the shrine. You can also get several different Tobu buses that will drop you near the shrine. It is possible to walk to the shrine from Tobu and JR Kawagoe stations, Tobu Kawagoeshi station or from Seibu Honkawagoe stations. It takes upwards of 20 minutes on foot from each.
If you are coming by car the turn for the shrine on route 254 is quite clearly marked. Since April 28th 2021 there is no official car park for Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. The old “dai ni” car park is still there though. However, it is coin parking now. It costs 100 yen for 30 minutes.
Although, not officially a part of the shrine, the Shingashi River cherry blossoms are associated with Kawagoe Hikawa.