You can find one of the official top 100 Natural Scenic Spots of Saitama, a manjushage* colony, in Kawagoe. It is on the outskirts of Kawagoe in an area called Hiratsuka Shinden. It is located along the Iruma river, between Ochiai bridge on route 254 and Hiratsuka bridge on route 256. I cycled in this area a lot when I first moved to Saitama Prefecture. And once upon a time, this manjushage colony was worthy of the accolade, but quite frankly for the last few years it has been hit and miss. I think the colony in neighboring Kawajima, backdropped by a water pipe bridge, is currently far more deserving of the honor.
*Manjushage has many names in both English and Japanese. I call them red spider lilies mainly, but others call them (as a very small example, as there are literally hundreds of names) Hurricane or Equinox flowers or cluster amaryllis or lycoris radiata. Similarly in Japanese I use higanbana mainly even though there are several names for them. But the meaning of Manjushage is my favorite – “flower of the heavens”.
Saitama Top 100 Nature Spots selection
The signboard in the precincts of Hiratsuka Shinden Hikawa Shrine denoting the colony as one of Saitama’s top 100. It reads:
100 Nature Spots of Saitama Prefecture,
Manjushage colony ~
Kawagoe City Hiratsuka Shinden, Iruma River Left Bank Embankment,
For about 700 meters* from Hiratsuka Bridge over the Iruma River to Ochiai Bridge.
“Around the autumn equinox, the sight of the bright red bloom is elegant”
*The accredited area is about 700 metres, but at one point they spread for about 2 kilometres. Not entirely continually, there were spaces in some places.
Back when I used to cycle by the colony, I had actually already started this blog. However, I never shared this location, because I had no photos of it. In those days, all I brought with me on my cycles was water, an iPod (remember those!?) and an old “garakei” flip phone. The camera on the flip phone was useless, so I never took photos.
Then I had kids and I forgot all about the accredited, but not famous, manjushage along the Iruma River in Kawagoe. Until 2020, when you know what happened! In 2020, between Kinchakuda being closed (and the flowers cut) and various State of Emergencies detering us from travelling outside our own neighborhood, I looked to local spots for higanbana once again.
Kawagoe actually has a really great selection of manjushage spots. None as large or impressive as Kinchakuda or Gongendo park, but this colony should have made a good alternative during the pandemic. But ironically, due to the pandemic, they didn’t cut the grass along the embankments in 2020 or 2021, so you couldn’t actually see the red spider lilies. They were there, but they were hidden by the long grass.
This year, they thankfully did cut the grass and once again you can see the red spider lilies along the embankment. However, they no longer stretch for two kilometers like they once did. Its just about 400 meters at the key area, where the sign marking their accolade is at Hiratsuka Shinden Hikawa Shrine. There used to be spider lilies on the shrine’s grounds too, but not in 2021 or 2022. But you can also see some manjushage in bursts, here and there along the rest of the 1.5 kilometers.
Location: 371 Hiratsuka Shinden, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0813. The colony is along the non river side of the Iruma River embankment, by Hiratsuka Shinden Hikawa Shrine in Kawagoe. The colony is actually marked on Google maps, you can see it here.
Access: by foot or bike is best. There is a small car park for one or two car parks at the shrine, but there is only a dirt road leading to it.
Online: Kawagoe City have removed all their web pages about this location in recent years. This is the only one remaining. Saitama Prefecture doesn’t have anything online about their 100 top nature spots in any language. (That I can find anyway). Also, even in Japanese there are very mentions or posts about this colony. But thankfully Kawagoe Yell has some photos and information in Japanese about this spot, from 2011.
All photos taken September 23rd 2022, no filters and no edits.