early blooming sakura and a randoseru blessing at Hikawa shrine

Information for the two stunning early blooming cherry blossom trees on the Shingashi River and for a randoseru blessing at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine.

At this stage, the cherry blossoms on the Shingashi River in Kawagoe need little introduction. It has become one of Saitama’s most popular and famous cherry blossom viewing spots. However, before the famed trees bloom at the end of March there are two early blooming sakura nearby that awe us with their beauty. Most locals know about these two trees, but few tourists do. I am not suggesting for one minute that these trees are worth going out of your way to visit. However, for those who happen to live in the area or visit Kawagoe mid March, a public service announcement that they exist! Moreover, for those who live in the area, the randoseru blessing information might be of interest.

Early blooming cherry blossoms on the Shingashi River

The two early blooming cherry blossom trees are near the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. They are located south of the shrine, directly across from each other on either side of the river. The one on the opposite side of Miyashita bridge near the main (large) torii of Hikawa shrine not the back entrance. The two trees are near the back entrance to the Kawagoe Gyomu. Most recent photos, March 18th 2024:

In 2023:

early blooming kawazuzakura on the Shingashi River near Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine March 10th 2023
March 10th 2023

In 2023 the trees reached full bloom around March 10th, about nine days earlier than in 2022:

Kawazu zakura cherry blossoms and snow on the Shingashi River near Gyomu, Kawagoe
March 22nd 2022

In 2022, they reached full bloom around March 22nd, as in the photo above. I was lucky enough to see them with snow. And at the time, Kawagoe Hikawa had beautiful pinwheels up for the 100 year anniversary of Kawagoe city.

Mix 2019 – 2022:

Kawagoe Hikawa shrine is my family’s shrine of worship for decades. Thus, we visit it often. Although nowadays, since the shrine became overly famous, we avoid it during busy periods such as New Years and the wind chime events. We visited the shrine on the day I first wrote this post (2019) for a randoseru blessing for my daughter. As luck would have it the two stunning early blooming trees were in full bloom and we were able to get the kids with their randoseru and beautiful blossoms. And they were putting up the festival lanterns for the main cherry blossom display too:

Festival Lanterns going up March 21st 2019

Randoseru Blessing, Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine

Before children start elementary school in parents, grandparents or guardians buy each child a Randoseru. Most children receive their randoseru well before the school year starts. The school year in Japan is from April to March. Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine offer a randoseru blessing for local children, at a fee, before the school year starts. It costs 3000 yen per child. For that you get a blessing, a mini randoseru amulet, an ema prayer votive with a children’s motif on it, a ‘hamaya’ decorative arrow, candy and a few other small bits. There is usually three different dates scheduled between February and March. In 2024, the dates are February 18th, March 3rd, 10th, 16th and 20th. Due to the popularity of the event, the number of randoseru blessings has increased year on year. But so has the speed of how quickly the places fill up! You would want to apply the day that they release the dates on their website:

Participating in a randoseru blessing

randoseru blessing kawagoe hikawa shrine
As part of the Randoseru Blessing children receive a randoseru shaped amulet

You have to book ahead for it. Moreover, you have to contact the shrine directly to inquire about booking. And it has to be two weeks before the date you want to do the ceremony. We are registered worshippers of Kawagoe Hikawa shrine, but we still had to submit our interest by letter (2019). They only take 20 families per ceremony. To date is has been operated on a first come first served basis. I mention this because sometimes these type of things are lottery based. They send out a letter of confirmation of your booking which you bring along on the day.

Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine on maps:

And some more general information in English:


The main Shingashi Cherry blossoms

Please check the main article for the Shingashi River for the most up-to-date information on the main cherry blossoms by Hikawa Shrine. Its updated frequently.

2 Comments

    1. Really popular with people from overseas, it seems there are quite a few coming just for the boat ride. I hope they aren’t disappointed!!

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