2022 Information for the annual wind chimes and glistening river at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine.
The Enmusubi Wind Chimes at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine are generally displayed from around the first weekend of July to the first week in September. They follow the lesser known pinwheel event. I have visited the wind chimes every year since their inception in 2014 and every year there is something different. For example, the colors of the wind chimes have changed over the years. In addition, they added bamboo displays a few years into the event. Then they started lighting up the wind chimes at night and before the pandemic they added a glistening river . In 2019 they added the koi akari “love light balls”, which you can purchase as an amulet to take home. Moreover, the size of the display has grown over the years too. An event worth going back to, time and time again!
Wind chimes Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine 2022
The Wind chimes will be displayed once again at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine in the summer of 2022. It was one of the few events that took place annually despite the pandemic. However, in both 2020 and 2021 Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine were unable to host the glistening river element of the event, due to prefecture guidelines. But I am delighted to announce that they are planning to run the glistening river in 2022, to start on the same date as the wind chimes: Saturday July 2nd 2022. They chimes, glistening river, glowing love balls and night light up will run until Sunday September 4th 2022.
However, in 2021 they had also planned to have the glistening river, but on June 30th just three days before the events were to start, Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine made an announcement. They had to cancel the glistening river. In addition, the precincts had to close earlier than normal and the wind chime display was downsized. But there was a State of Emergency in place for most of the summer 2021. It is unlikely that will be the case in 2022. So, don a yukata and head to Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine for a summer evening to remember!
Enmusubi Wind Chimes
Initially, there were 888 wind chimes for the inaugural event in 2014. In Japan, 888 is considered an “angel number”. And Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine is famous for its power in love matches. For the first event 888 wind chimes were used to promote luck in love. When I visited that year, 2014, the air was so dead, the wind chimes were lifeless. But in 2015 and every year since I have visited on a windy day and enjoyed the soothing sounds of the wind chimes. Nowadays there are normally 2000 wind chimes displayed, including the main tunnel with the 888 chimes. However, in 2021 they removed one of the wind chime tunnels reducing the total number of chimes, but there is no announcement to that effect for 2022.
Enmusubi means marriage or as in this case “marriage ties”. Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine is renowned for bestowing blessings in matters related to family fulfillment, perfect match couples and, as you might have guessed, marriage! People who are looking to meet a partner and / or to have a good marriage come to this shrine for a blessing.
The wind chimes initially attracted about 100,000 visitors to the shrine in the first couple of years after its inception in 2014. By 2017 that number had tripled. Before the pandemic the locals were saying around 1,000,000 people had visited. I well believe it as I visit it often and it is always busy during the enmusubi wind chime period. Other times of the year that it is particularly busy is New Years and during the 7-5-3 festival.
The “glistening river” Hikaru Kawa uses projection mapping and dry ice to create the image of the Milky Way. The glistening river was not on in either 2020 or 2021, but they are hoping they can run it in 2022. During the period that the chimes are on display you can visit the shrine until
9 pm 8pm (in 2022) at night. They light up the small river and chimes from around 7 pm in a regular year, but in 2022 they will probably light it up earlier as the precincts also close earlier.
You can purchase a paper doll to float down the glistening river, by day or by night. The ritual is called “Hitogata nagashi” in Japanese. The river has the shinto shide and shimenawa that indicates this river is believed to have a deity. And the act of sending the doll down the river is a purification ritual to release you from your sins.
Here is an account and many more photos of the “glistening river”, the wind chimes, the love light balls and the shrine at night:
I usually recommend visiting on August 7th which is when Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine celebrate their Tanabata festival too. (Some places celebrate on July 7th). During this time you can also see beautiful colour strips on bamboo displays. However, it is not yet known if they will also go ahead with the Tanabata Festival. Only time will tell.
It is customary to pray at a shrine if you are visiting. And at the very least offer a contribution into the prayer box. You can also contribute to the shrine by buying either an amulet, shrine seal, floating doll, glowing love light ball or paper fortunes. They even have English paper fortunes at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine.
During the pandemic
One good thing that came out of the situation is that the shrine widened the tunnel of chimes, to make it easier to avoid close contact. However, they also request that you do not loiter to take photos, which will probably be the case in the summer of 2022. It is the advice for the pinwheel event that is currently running. And as aforementioned, the precincts are closing at 8 pm, rather than the usual 9 pm, due to the pandemic. Even though this is an outdoor event, you are required to wear a mask. And it should go without saying, but… please do not visit if you have a fever or are feeling poorly.
Building work at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
Please note that they are still carrying out building work on the grounds of Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. They have torn down the old Hikawa Kaikan and are replacing it with a smaller building. The plan is to restore the rest of the area to its former natural wood state. Also, please note that as of April 2021 there are no longer official car parking areas for Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. The former “dai ichi” car park is now a kaikan. Moreover, the large “dai ni” car park is now a charged parking lot, managed by a separate entity.
Wind chimes event Information
Address: 2-11-3 Miyashitamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0052
Date: Saturday July 2nd to Sunday September 4th 2022
Hours: 9 am to 8 pm. Please note that the wind chimes are often taken down early on a very windy day or when a typhoon is forecasted.
Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine is off route 254 close to where it merges with route 16. Please note there is no longer a parking lot at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. The old dai ni car park still exists, but it is now run by a separate entity and is charged. It costs 100 yen for half an hour.
By public transport
From Shinjuku it takes about 45 minutes to Kawagoe station on the Seibu Shinjuku line. Up to date routes and fares are available on hyperdia.com. You can walk from Hon-kawagoe or Kawagoe stations along a tourist route, but it takes about 40 minutes. There are also buses:
Koedo Kawagoe bus one day pass allows you unlimited travel on the Koedo Kawagoe buses. It costs 300 yen (2016). In the bus they have a monitor with sightseeing information. Some tourist places give discounts on souvenirs or entrance tickets to people with a one day pass.
Koedo Meguri (Loop) Bus from Kawagoe station. You can buy a one day pass that allows you unlimited travel on the Meguri Bus. It stops at 16 different locations. 104 different shops, offer discount services such as souvenirs, food, and entrance fees to facilities for holders of this day pass. There are announcements in English and Chinese as well as Japanese so foreigners can feel at ease. More information here.
Information for Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine’s Enmusubi Wind Chimes first appeared on Saitama With Kids blog pages in 2014 and was moved to the events section in 2017. It was moved back to the blog side when the events calendar closed in September 2021. Updated annually and republished every couple of years. Last republish: May 19th 2022.