The Tanabata Festival (Star Festival) is normally held from August 4th to August 7th annually in Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. The main date of the festival is August 7th and they have additional events that day. Sometimes they put up the tanabata decorations earlier, like in 2015 when this post was first written. I visited on July 31st that year and the decorations were up. As were the popular wind chimes that Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine is famous for.
Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine Tanabata 2022
Its still a bit early for the tanabata information: they only just released information for the 2022 wind chimes on May 18th 2022. In 2020, due to the Coronavirus, they did not open the religious services to the public, just priests. But they did have the strips of paper out for you to write your wishes on. Moreover, in 2020, they also had their chinowa kuguri from July 31st to August 6th, so it overlapped with the star festival event for three days.
By the by, if you haven’t visited Kawagoe Hikawa shrine in the last two years, you might be surprised to see the kaikan is gone! They have been tearing it down since last Autumn. Just before the wind chimes in 2021, when the pinwheels were up, they got rid of the last remaining wall. That’s not the only change at the beloved shrine. There are two new buildings. One in the former main car park, the other in the former dai ni parking. Some of the dai ni car park remains, but it is now a coin parking lot. Thus, there is no longer any official parking at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine.
Tanabata “Star” Festival
The shrine is decorated beautifully with bands of color from the Tanabata wish strips. You can enjoy the decoration all day and add your own wish to the bamboo trees, but the festival itself is in the evening from 6 pm on August 7th. There is usually music and festival stalls. In addition, they read kamishibai and have music and dance including shakuhachi flute performances. However, the kamishibai and performances may not be on in 2022 due to the pandemic.
During the Tanabata (Star) Festival at Hikawa Shrine, you can see colored strips of wishes tied to bamboo trees. You can also write your own wish to add to the bamboo shoots.
As the tanabata celebration falls during the wind chime season, you can also buy wind chime prayer plaques called an ema. You can write your prayer and tie it to the chime – please ask at the office for information. Some areas have colored chimes, while others are clear. The precincts are particularly spectacular at night, when the chimes are illuminated and there is a light show in the water feature at the front of the shrine grounds. Occasionally, there is also live music to accompany the whole sensual experience.
Information and Access
Address: 2-11-3 Miyashita Machi, Kawagoe, Saitama
The shrine is normally open from 9am to 9pm, but during the pandemic it has been closing early. In 2022 that is 8 pm. The illumination starts from dusk. The Musubi cafe, which used to be next door, offers seasonal sweets in association with the event. However, the ‘kaikan’ that the cafe was located in was knocked down in 2020. There is another cafe now across the road in what used to be a car park. Whether they have seasonal sweets or not remains to be seen.
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 no longer free parking at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. In 2021, they built on two of the car parks and the large “dai ni” car park was turned into a coin parking lot. It costs 100 yen for half an hour.
Getting to Kawagoe from Tokyo
From Ikebukuro, cost and route from hyperdia.com;
From Shinjuku, cost and route from hyperdia.com;
You can take a video tour of the wind chimes at the shrine at the official website: https://www.hikawa-fuurin.jp/