Kawagoe Kumano Shrine

Kawagoe Kumano Shrine is famous for many things, including warding off back luck. There are special events throughout the year to enhance these powers. For example, the shrine is a popular place for good fortune rituals such as Chinowa Kuguri and Yatagarasu Suzu no Wa. Chinowa Kuguri is one element of their “Natsumode”, summer prayers, while Yatagarsu Suzu no Wa is performed during “Akimode”, autumn prayers. There are also several other events throughout the year. In this post you will find a summary of those events as well as general information for the shrine.

Kawagoe Kumano Shrine

Kawagoe Kumano Shrine was established in 1590, at which time it was part of Renkeiji. The symbol of the shrine is the Yatagarasu, which looks like a three legged crow. Each leg of this sacred bird represents the triad of heaven, earth and people. The legend goes that the yatagarasu guided Emperor Jinmu (711 BC), the legendary first emperor of Japan, when he got lost. Therefore, the Yatagarasu are believed to help people achieve a goal.

There are various points of interest at the shrine, but currently this post focuses on seasonal events that ward off bad luck at the shrine:

Pass through a ring of grass

a Ring of Bells at Kawagoe Kumano Shrine

Pass through a ring of grass to ward off bad luck each season. A few times a year there is a chigaya ring of grass up at the shrine to perform a ritual that has different names by season. For example, in Autumn the ring is called a “three legged crow ring of bells”, Yatagarasu Suzu no Wa. Each time the ring is up for a few weeks.

The act of passing through the Yatagarasu Suzu no Wa is a ritual much like Chinowa Kuguri. And like Chinowa Kuguri, the ritual is to ward off bad luck and welcome good passage as you enter a new season. However, with Chinowa Kuguri, you pass through the ring twice, in the shape of infinity. But at Kumano shrine, for Yatagarasu no Wa and again in December for toshikoshi harai, you pass through the ring three times. You go through the ring of bells in the shape of infinity, but then pass through the ring again one more time on the left hand side only:

A diagram of how to do Yatagarasu Suzu no wa at Kawagoe Kumano Shrine

Prayer seasons

There are five main prayer seasons at the shrine: Harumode, Natsumode, Akimode, Fuyumode and Hatsumode. That is, spring, summer, autumn, winter and “first” or “new year” prayers. The ring of chigaya is put up in summer, at which time it is for the regular chinowa kuguri, and again in autumn and winter when you pass through the ring three times. During these different seasons they have different editions of their seal stamps (goshuin). Furthermore, they have Hitogata de kiyome oharai, a type of purification using dolls, that you can try during the period of each prayer season. They also usually change the display around the purifying font where you wash your hands before praying:

Kawagoe Kumano shrine purifying font with snow decorations December 2023
December 12th 2023

In 2024

  • Spring Harumode – from March 17th to May 6th. An official event of the larger Koedo Kawagoe Spring Festival.
  • Summer Natsumode – awaiting confirmation
  • Autumn Akimode – awaiting confirmation
  • Winter Fuyumode – awaiting confirmation
  • New Year first prayers Hatsumode – from January 1st to 31st.

Lanterns at Kawagoe Kumano Shrine

There are now two walls of lanterns at Kawagoe Kumano. However, the lanterns in the first picture have been halved in quantity. But now there is also a wall of lanterns on the other side of the shrine, on the Taisho Roman Yume Street side, shown in the second picture at night. There are also two large lanterns hanging either side of the torii. You will also find a few lanterns on the grounds all year round. However, for festivals only, they string lines of beautiful lanterns with the yatagarasu on them:

Strings of lanterns at Kawagoe Kumano Shrine for festival period only

There is so much I want to say about this shrine, really I should have given it a blog post of its own by now! But, unfortunately, today is not the day for that. Hopefully, someday I can write more about the history of this shrine and all it has to offer. Even better still – you’ll get to see it and discover its charms for yourself. But thankfully, there is also a really detailed post in English on Kawagoe Info Net.


Information

Event: Harumode 2024

Date: from March 17th to May 6th 2024.

Time: the precincts are open 24 hours, but the shrine’s offices close at 5 pm.

Venue: 川越熊野神社 Kawagoe Kumano Shrine, 17-1 Renjakucho, Kawagoe, Saitama 〒350-0066 . View on Google Maps.

Access

The closest station is Hon-Kawagoe station which is only a few minutes walk away. Kawagoe-shi station is about a ten minute walk away. And Kawagoe station is about a 15 minute walk from the shrine. If you are coming on foot from Kawagoe station you come in from Taisho Roman Street, the side that has torii. From the other two stations the closest entrance is the back entrance, where there are no torii, but you can see the wall of lanterns.

There is no parking at the shrine. There is a large, but expensive, car park at the top of Taisho Roman Yume Street. You can also find several smaller coin parking lots in the area.

Official website

Don’t Miss

Hatago Coedoya Hotel is next door to Kawagoe Kumano Shrine. During the day you can even access the hotel from a side entrance. However, the side entrance is locked at night, from 5 pm. On the first floor of the hotel there is a very popular food court “Lover’s Alley” where there are six trendy gourmet restaurants, including the famous Mrs Hamburger. Also, not to miss if you are visiting on the third Saturday or Sunday of October: the incredible Kawagoe Festival – one of the largest Autumn Festivals in all of Japan.

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