Kawazu at shrines and temples Sumiyoshi Sakado

Information for shrines and temples and other things to do and see in the Sumiyoshi area of Sakado. All located near the early blooming ‘Kawazu’ cherry blossoms of Sumiyoshi Sakura no Sato, Meiji Chocolate factory and Seitenkyu. Each of those three have a post of their own as they are the main attractions in the area. Please note that the cherry blossoms of Sumiyoshi Sakura no Sato do not bloom every year. However, there is a shrine nearby and a temple not too far away, shared below, that also have a couple of kawazu cherry blossoms that do bloom annually. Even without the cherry blossoms this area of Sakado is a nice place to ramble if you like shrines and temples.

There are also a few other local attractions outlined below and mapped too:

Shrines and Temples Sakado

The area around Sumiyoshi Sakura no Sato is very rural. However, it has a lovely collection of temples and shrines as well as a couple of other attractions. The area that the kawazu zakura – early blooming cherry blossoms – are in is actually called Tsukagoshi. I’ve also included a couple of attractions in the neighboring Ishii, Konuma and Aoki areas. All of which are in the North East of Sakado, on the border of Kawajima Town.

Saikoji Temple

Closest to the promenade of Kawazu Zakura is Saikoji. From the cherry blossoms, taking a dirt road and avenue of bamboo brings you to the temple in just 3 minutes on foot. Saikoji is approximately 500 years old. One of the more unusual features of the temple are the ‘nioman’ guardians. They are smaller and a different design than most.

Saikoji temple of the blog post shrines of temples of North East Sakado

The temple has a beautifully ‘balanced’ landscaped garden. Moreover, it is at its best at the end of February, just as the kawazu zakura at Sumiyoshi Sakura no Sato are blooming. Among the blooms in the garden there are two weeping plum blossoms, a red plum blossom, a wintersweet, and witch hazel among others. The avenue to the small ‘park’ (really just a playground) is lined with white plum blossoms. More information in Japanese.


Omiya Sumiyoshi Shrine

Omiya Sumiyoshi shrine Kawazuzakura

Literally across the road from Saikoji is the back entrance to Omiya Sumiyoshi Shrine. It has a very different atmosphere to Saikoji. Furthermore, there is a practically tangible spiritual force here, often referred to as a “power spot” in Japan. Sumiyoshi shrine doesn’t have many blooms. However, there are a couple of plum blossoms and it even has some kawazu sakura of its own.

Shrines and temples of North East Sakado

What the shrine does have is some truly magnificent Japanese cedar (Sugi) trees. They are under the protection of Sakado City. In the center of the shrine grounds there is a 27 meter high cedar decorated with the rope (shimenawa) and white paper streamer (shide) to mark its sacredness. Moreover, it is famed for its Kagura which is a designated intangible cultural folk property of Japan. Information in Japanese on the Official website.


Benten Pond

Benten Pond Sakado

Across from the front entrance of Sumiyoshi (Saikoji is at the back entrance) is a little shrine on a pond. Benten pond is small, but very picturesque. It also has a couple of kawazu cherry blossoms, but they are still very young. They will look amazing in the future. There are carp in the water. You can feed the carp for 100 yen, if there is feed there. There was no feed today, which we realized after we’d put the money in the safe! (It works on the honor system – deposit your money in a little safe, take the feed).

There are about a dozen (presumably feral) cats living around the pond. They are quite friendly, because they are hungry. About 3 of them were pretty aggressive in begging us for food. Unfortunately we had nothing with us. We’d have given them some of the carp feed had there been any there!


Suguro Shrine

All of the above are South of the cherry trees. But there is one shrine close to the sakura on the North side. Suguro Shrine is about a three to four minute walk North west of the promenade. And a very special shrine it is. For the history buffs, especially those interested in Shogun, this is sure to be of interest. For not only is a Shogun enshrined here, he is also interred at the site. Moreover the shrine is actually on top of the “kofun” burial mound.

Suguro Shrine Sakado temples and shrines

The enshrined God and the interred Shogun is Takenuna Kawakake. He is one of the four great Shoguns of ancient times, Before the Common Era. His data is recorded in the Nihon Shoki (Japan Chronicles) and the “Kojiki”. The Kojiki is the ancient historical record of Japan recording not only the events of the time, but myths of the creation of Japan and the exploits of the Gods. That his remains have been there for over 2000 years just blows the mind. Official website


Shokoji

Shokoji Temple Sakado

Shokoji is further away than all of the temples and shrines mentioned so far. But it is one of the locations were you are guaranteed to see kawazuzakura in bloom annually. There are only two trees, but they are mature and truly beautiful. This spot is quite well known in the area. There is a bust of Heizaburo Okawa on the grounds, pictured above. He is the nephew of Eiichi Shibusawa, one of Japan’s most prolific entrepreneurs, who features on the 10,000 yen note in Japan. But Heizaburo Okawa is famous in his own right, for his work in improving the production of paper in Japan and for all he did in this area of Saitama Prefecture.


Seitenkyu Temple

If you go about a kilometer South of Benten Pond, there is the famous Seitenkyu Temple. A Taoist temple gifted from the people of Taiwan, Seitenkyu is known as the temple of the 5000 soaring dragons. It is the largest Taoist temple in all of Japan. Seitenkyu temple is a well known “insta” spot. But long before Instagram, it always attracted cosplayers as well as video creators. Many people pair a trip to the temple with the free Meiji Chocolate factory. The factory is just a 15 minutes walk from the temple. (In the opposite direction of the Sumiyoshi sakura). Even more information in English here.


Bonus Content

Other points of interest in the North East area of Sakado near Sumiyoshi Sakura no Sato.

House of Pirates, Zunchaku Skate Park

House of Pirates, Zunchaku Skate Park Sakado City

Located south east of the cherry blossom promenade Zunchaka skate park is an indoor skateboarding center. They do have an outdoor ramp too and a nice stove to keep the cold at bay. It is possible to take skateboarding lessons too. Facebook page

Sakado City History Folk Museum

It is just a small museum, but worth a mention in case if you happen to be caught in the area in a sudden rain shower. The museum showcases local relics and archaeological finds. I personally have not been here yet, but I’ve been to all other locations. Information in English for the Sakado City History Folk Museum on the prefectural website.

Strawberry picking

Strawberry picking with a play area in Sakado
On a clear day you can see Mt Fuji almost 160 kilometers away

There is a strawberry picking farm relatively near the cherry blossom promenade. However, only if you walk along the river embankment. If you take the roads or go by car it takes twice as long. You can just buy strawberries if you prefer not to pick. If you do want to pick, they advise you ring ahead. They are open every day but Monday from January 4th until around Golden Week. More information in English.

Wild Swans

The swan reserve of Kawajima is a stone’s throw away, but with two rivers in between! To get to the swan reserve you have to walk east along the embankment and cross over a beautiful wooden bridge. The bridge has featured in a few TV dramas. Possibly 1994’s “At Seventeen” was the first to put it on the map. Once you cross over the bridge head West on the embankment until you come to the first the stairs leading down to the river. (Not the stairs on leading down to the street). However, the swans are only there until around the end of February. Sometimes they leave as early as mid February.

Meiji Chocolate Factory

Love Meiji Chocolate

This is quite a walk from the cherry blossoms, but if you are coming by car it is only a ten minute drive. Unfortunately, in 2022 it is only possible to combine a trip to the chocolate factory with a visit to the kawazuzakura if you live in Saitama Prefecture. The factory was closed to the public on account of the Coronavirus for most of 2020 and 2021. But it reopened to people living in Saitama on January 17th 2022 and has been going strong ever since. See all the details:

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