Naritasan Kawagoe Betsuin Hongyoin Temple is a branch of the Naritasan Shinsoji Buddhist Temple of Narita, Chiba. It has a very interesting, but complex history with many layers of detail. The founder Ishikawa Tomegoro, with the financial backing of wealthy locals, restored what was previously the ruined Hongyoin Temple to be the first branch of Narita’s Shinsoji Temple. However, the temple is actually best known for its monthly antique fair.
Naritasan Temple Kawagoe
The story goes that Ishikawa, a farmer, lost his eyesight and tried to commit suicide. He was unsuccessful three times. Therefore, after the third attempt he believed it was sign from the Gods and entered the Buddhist priesthood. There he regained his sight. Thus, the temple is now a popular place to pray for poor eyesight and general eye health. After touring all round Japan Ishikawa finally settled in Kawagoe at a Shinto Shrine (Hachiman Shrine). There a temple to the Fudo Myo-o, the Wisdom King Acala , a protective Deity, had been established. That Acala Temple was then moved to what today is the Naritasan Kawagoe Betsuin Hongyoin. Unfortunately there is very little comprehensive information in English to direct you to, but there is a little on the Kawagoe Koedo Naritasan page.
The Kawagoe branch of Naritasan Shinsoji Temple is represented by the Ofuda-sama, the common name for Fudo Myo-o, at the North Gate. The North Gate is the one to right of the main building as you face it. It is beside a turtle pond.
Here you will find a statue with lots of baby paraphernalia laid to the God and to Jizo for Mizuko, literally water baby, which are babies that have passed away. Jizo are the most venerated bodhisattva in Japan. They are believed to be a the patron of children, aborted / miscarried babies, expectant mothers, firemen, travelers and pilgrims. In addition, they are also said to protect babies in limbo.
You can write a prayer plaque for 500 yen to leave for the soul of a child that has passed away. The temple also offer other services for a lost child, miscarriage or abortion.
Seven Lucky Gods
There are many other statues and prayer points on the temple grounds. Including an area to worship Ebisuten, one of the Seven Lucky Gods of Kawagoe. There is a popular 6 kilometre pilgrimmage of the seven temples of which each worship one of the seven lucky Gods. They even have an area where you can get your God stamp for that temple! Naritasan is the 4th stop on the pilgrimage. Ebisuten is the God of purity of unselfishness and the symbol of good luck and happiness. The temple sell Ebisuten Ema, which are votive prayer plaques, that you can write your prayer or request on and hang from a designated prayer plaque area.
The temple sell a number of other Ema, prayer plaques, and omamori, a type of amulet / talisman. One of the more popular ema is that for eyesight, due to the background of Ishikawa and his regained sight. To me a Japanese omamori is a hybrid of an amulet and talisman. From my understanding, an omamori has both the protective power of an amulet and the good luck of a talisman. Naritasan is most famous for their traffic safety omamori. Currently, they are receiving attention for their Rilakkuma omamori. Rilakkuma which means relaxed bear in Japanese, is a popular fictional character and its merchandise is very popular. These amulets / talisman also seem to be very popular. They cost 700 yen a piece (2017 price).
Monthly Antique Fair
Despite its interesting background and the amount of prayer spots in the temple, Naritasan is not as well known to international tourists as its neighboring temple of Kitain. Kitain is one of Kawagoe’s most famous and popular tourist spots. It is also a station on the Seven Lucky Gods pilgrimage. Perhaps in modern society Kawagoe Naritasan is actually most famous for its antique fair and flea market. The antique fair at is held on the grounds of Naritasan temple on the 28th of every month. Moreover, it is said to be one of the best antique and flea markets in the Kanto area and always draws crowds.
- 13 minute walk from the Seibu Shinjuku Line Honkawagoe Station
- 22 minute walk from the JR Kawagoe Line and the Tobu Tojo Line Kawagoe station
- 17 minute walk from the Tobu Tojo Line Kawagoe-shi station
You can take a bus from both Kawagoe and HonKawagoe for Minami Furuya station (南古谷駅行き）and alight at Naritasan Mae bus stop「成田山前バス停」
Alternatively, you can also take the Tobu Koedo Loop Bus from Tobu Tojo and JR lines Kawagoe station and alight at Naritasan Mae bus stop
You can take the Eagle Bus Coedo Loop Bus from Tobu Tojo Line and JR LIne Kawagoe station and Hon Kawagoe stations to Kitain Temple 「喜多院バス停」 . It is about a 2 minute walk from that bus stop.
- 15 minute drive from Kawagoe Interchange on the Kanetsu Expressway.
- 20 minute drive from the Kawajima Interchange of the Ken-O Expressway.
- Free Parking for about 20 cars
Kawagoe Access by train from Tokyo and Omiya
- 31 minutes from Ikebukuro on a express train on the Tobu Tojo Line. 470 yen
- 44 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku on a Red Arrow Limited Express. 420 yen for the express ticket, plus base fare.
- 66 minutes from Shinjuku or 62 minutes from Takadanobaba on Seibu Shinjuku Line. You can buy one round trip ticket for 700 yen for either of those stations.
- 54 minutes from JR Shinjuku on a rapid train of the Saikyo/Kawagoe line. 760 yen.
- 28 minutes on a regular train from Omiya on the Saikyo/Kawagoe Line or 22 minutes on the rapid train.
- The Fukutoshin and Yurakucho subways connect to the Tobu Tojo line at Wako-shi. Some of them go all the way to Kawagoe (and beyond) too.
Kawagoe Access from Tokyo by Car
About 21 kilometres from Nerima to Kawagoe using the Kanetsu Expressway. The toll for the expressway is about 840 yen.
About 40 kilometres from Hinode using the Ken-o highway. The toll is about 1400 yen.