early blooming sakura and a randoseru blessing at 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

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

Update March 22nd 2022: the trees are currently in full bloom. And FYI, Kawagoe Hikawa currently have beautiful pinwheels up for the 100 year anniversary of Kawagoe city.

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.

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.

Randoseru Blessing

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.

2022 dates: In 2022 they had four different dates ~ February 20th, March 5th, March 13th and March 21st.

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.


The main Shingashi Cherry blossoms

March 22nd 2022: the trees have started to bloom. Please check this article for information on the main cherry blossoms by Hikawa Shrine, its updated frequently.

2019 Information:

The Shingashi River cherry blossom boat event is the third most popular post on my blog of all time. In the last week it has had thousands upon thousands of views (thank you) and not just from within Japan. It is the most globally read post on the blog. With that in mind, for those coming on a short term visit to Japan, I want to update on the status of the cherry blossom trees.

Festival Lanterns went up today March 21st 2019

This is 2019 information: I was at the famed sakura spot this morning, March 21st 2019. The cherry blossom trees are currently as bare as bare can be. This in stark contrast to last year when the cherry blossoms were already blooming on the same date. When we pulled up at 9 am there were work men arriving at the side of the river. When we were leaving at 11.30 am they had put up all the festival lanterns along the main sakura section.


More information on Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine:

And general information / an account of a visit to the Shingashi River cherry blossoms:

2 Comments

    1. Author

      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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