You hear so much about “ajisai dera” (hydrangea temples) at this time of year in Japan. But what about hydrangea shrines? Hundreds of shrines throughout Saitama have some hydrangea on their grounds, but for some reason its all about the hydrangea temples! Well there is an actual reason – hydrangea’s long and intricate connection with Buddhism, but that’s beside the point! In Tokyo of course Hakusan Shrine is famous for its hydrangea, but Saitama?
There are a few, but they just don’t have the exposure of neighboring Tokyo’s hydrangea spots. There is one place in particular in Saitama that always comes to mind when I think of hydrangea and shrines. A quaint neighborhood shrine that is neither big nor prominent, but they have a beautiful garden boasting dozens of hydrangea. It is well known among Saitama-jin, but I am not sure it is that well known outside the prefecture borders…
Hydrangea Shrine in Saitama City
The hydrangea shrine is located in the Sashiogi area of Nishi Ward, Saitama City. It is an Hikawa Shrine. The Sashiogi Hikawa Shrine, one of hundreds of Hikawa Shrines in the Kanto plain. Have you ever heard of Sashiogi Hikawa Shrine? It is quite a small shrine and garden in the middle of a built up residential area. But amazingly it has a parking lot. It fits about six cars. Moreover, it has the most beautiful hydrangea as well as a selection of other seasonal flowers including varieties of daylilies. Even without flowers in bloom the shrine is very picturesque with intricate wood carvings and a red roof, as you can see above.
The hydrangea normally bloom around the middle of June. However, in 2021 they were already coming into bloom early June. And in 2022 there were already photos of the hydrangea flowering on social media , as of May 25th 2022. I have visited every year in early June as I couple a visit here with Aobaen. The hydrangea at Aobaen are always early, but they are later at Sashiogi, so I’d normally only get to see the white variety. However, in 2023, I finally got to see the Sashiogi colored hydrangea in their prime too (and I’ve added some of those photos to this post), as I also visited on June 7th.
Sashiogi Hikawa Shrine Hydrangea Festival 2023
The hydrangea festival is currently scheduled for Saturday June 17th and Sunday June 18th, between 10 am and 3 pm. The festival usually coincides with the prime bloom of the colored hydrangea. However, no guarantees. The hydrangea seem to be blooming particularly early, around Saitama Prefecture, in 2023. (For posterity; the festival was on in 2022 too, but it was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic)!
As you can tell from the photos above, in 2021 I visited a little too early for the hydrangea. But the daylilies and the Japanese meadowsweet were blooming beautifully.
You don’t need a lot of time at this shrine. Moreover, if you are coming by car, you can’t really park for long either. But if you are in the neighborhood and looking for an hydrangea shot that isn’t already all over Instagram, Sashiogi Hikawa Shrine might be an option for you!
Don’t miss: just a 25 minute walk or 5 minute drive from the shrine is Aobaen where you will find even more hydrangea.
Autumn Leaf Festival
Sashiogi Hikawa Shrine will have an Autumn Leaf Festival on Saturday December 3rd and Sunday December 4th 2022. On both days it will be on from 10 am to 3 pm in their “kaede garden”. Official brochure.
Sashiogi Shrine Information
|Address:||2810 Sashiogi, Nishi Ward, Saitama, 331-0047|
|Cost:||As little or as much as you want to donate to the prayer box. Free parking|
|Hours:||No official hours|
|Online:||Sashiogi Shrine doesn’t appear to have an official website. There is a very basic page on the Saitama Shrine website here.|
It is called the Sashiogi Hikawa Shrine 指扇氷川神社, but Google Maps currently has it as “Akabane” Hikawa Shrine. I’ve sent in a request to have it edited, so hopefully it will be amended in the next few days! If not searching Akabane Hikawa shrine in Nishi ward should bring it up, or use the map below. There isn’t really much of a parking lot, moreover, during the festival I doubt you can use the little bit of space that is there for cars.
The shrine is about a 12 minute walk from Sashiogi Station on the JR Kawagoe Line.