Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine by night: the illuminous “Hikaru Kawa”, glistening river. All the photos in this post are from 2019. In 2020 the wind chime event went ahead. However, the night time events were cancelled. Currently (April 2021), it is not yet known if there will a light up event in 2021.
The glistening river
Legend goes that the Iruma River used to glisten at night. And the source was the Hikawa God…
Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
There are two particularly famous Hikawa Shrine in Saitama. In total, there are actually more than 200 Hikawa Shrine in the Saitama / Tokyo area alone. Omiya Hikawa Shrine is famous for being the headquarters of the Hikawa Shrines and for having the longest entrance walkway to the shrine in the whole of Japan. Kawagoe Hikawa shrine is famous for housing a secret treasure and being the birth place of the Kawagoe festival.
Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine national fame began with the birth of the highly acclaimed Kawagoe Festival. It is also well known for its love blessings. In recent years the shrine is also known for its “twinkling river” at night and summer wind chime display.
Events at the shrine
- Ritual Blessings all year round
- Pinwheels in June
- Matchmaking Wind chimes “enmusubi furin” in July, August and September
- Tanabata festival in August
- Twinkling river “Hikaru Kawa”
Since 2014 Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine has held an annual wind chime event, which features on this blog. At the start of this summer I also shared a report for the 2019 event during day time. At night it is even more glorious; a stunning scene of light and colours, with a dash of the milky way thrown in.
Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine by night
Throughout the year the shrine is open until 9 pm at night. During the hot weather, from early July to early September, the acclaimed wind chimes are displayed.
The 888 wind chimes, a significant number in Shinto religion, are lit up at night.
In 2019 they introduced a light ball attraction, literally called “love light” or koi akari in Japanese. They were selling these as amulets too. They were available from the 27th of July to August 31st. Due to the popularity, I expect we’ll be seeing the love lights again soon.
Milky Way Stream at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
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 pm. They use projection mapping and dry ice to create the impression of the milky way.
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
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.
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. The main car park is opposite the shrine, on the far side of the road. It is quite small. There is also a larger car park beside Shingashi river.
Although, not officially a part of the shrine, the Shingashi River cherry blossoms are associated with Kawagoe Hikawa.