Tunnel of pinwheels in Saitama Prefecture March 2022

Pinwheels Kawagoe – 風車・川越氷川神社。In 1922 Kawagoe City was inaugurated as the first ever city in Saitama Prefecture. Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine itself has been the heart and soul of Kawagoe for more than 1500 years. In celebration of the 100 anniversary the pinwheels are already up, much earlier than normal. Normally, they are put up in June before the much more famous wind chimes.

In 2023 the event will only be on in June as was also the case prior to the anniversary event (2022). Information for 2023 (and beyond) is here.

Pinwheels in Kawagoe

Photo of red and white pinwheels commemorating the accession of Crown Prince Naruhito to Emperor at Kawagoe Hikawa SHrine may 2019 saitama japan
A special red and white pinwheel display in celebration of Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne in 2019

This is not the first time they have put up pinwheels early to mark a celebration. In 2019 they put up the pinwheels, special red and white ones, in celebration of Emperoro Naruhito’s ascension to the throne. Although the pinwheels have been an annual event in June at the shrine since about 2016, the 2019 event was the first time the pinwheels really went viral.

For the special event in commemoration of the Emperor’s ascension to the throne the pinwheels were red and white. But usually they are a pale blue and white and a light purple and white. However, this year for the centennial celebration they also have introduced a beautiful pale pink almost beige color in the main display area. Moreover, on April 1st they changed some of the pinwheels to another new color, of deep pink. See the “2022” section below for photos. The display on the east side is on the opposite side of the road. It is actually the old dai ichi car park and they are in front of the new Kaikan. These ones, that were introduced in 2021 are cream and white and blue and white.

Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine new pinwheel section 2021
New pinwheel section in 2021, also up in spring 2022

Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine has always been a popular shrine. But when they introduced a summer wind chime event in 2014, the number of annual visitors multiplied exponentially. It became on of the key places to visit in the summer and firmly put itself on the best list of things to see in Kawagoe. The wind chime event has proved to be an extremely popular event and put them on the international map, attracting more expat and foreign visitors more than ever before. The pinwheel event initially wasn’t as well known, but it is growing in fame and popularity since 2019.

Pinwheels in 2022

The pinwheels were put up on March 3rd, as far as I can tell. I noticed them on March 4th when I was driving by and researched thereafter. I didn’t have time to stop on Friday, but I went the day after I published this post! The photos above are from then: March 7th 2022. Moreover, on April 1st they changed out some of the pinwheels by the stone torii to a new color: a deep pink as in the photo below:

pinwheels at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
Deep pink pinwheels added April 1st

They haven’t put an end date up yet, but have implied they will be up until at least the end of the sakura season. Update April 15th 2022 – their website says now they will be up until at least the end of Golden Week. I presume at this stage, they will keep them up until the usual end of June end date. I will update here if there is any change to that.

If you are coming at the end of March or early April, don’t miss the cherry blossoms out the back of the shrine. One of the official 100 best scenes of Kawagoe. Also, here are 9 other places for cherry blossoms in Kawagoe. Also, the Koedo Kawagoe Spring Festival will be starting shortly.

Access pinwheels and wind chimes

Address: 2-11-3 Miyashita Machi, Kawagoe, Saitama Phone: 049-224-0589

You can walk from Hon-kawagoe or Kawagoe stations along a tourist route, but it takes about 40 minutes. There is a tourist bus or a regular bus that will bring you close. There is free parking for 300 cars. 

Source: An account of visiting the wind chimes

Hours: From 9 am. In a normal year the precincts are open until 9 pm and they have lit the pinwheels up in the past. However, as the prefecture is currently under a “preventative measures” directive, the shrine may close earlier than normal. For much of the pandemic, the precincts have been closing at 8 pm. The shrine itself has been closing at 5 pm.

Please note as of April 2021 there is no longer any official and / or free parking for Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. Dai Ichi car park is now the new pinwheel display area! But Dai Ni parking lot is still there, but it is now a coin parking lot. It costs 100 yen for half an hour.

Official website

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