Kawagoe (川越) is known as an Edo-period castle town and is a popular tourist spot both among Japanese and foreigners. Easily accessible from central Tokyo, the town is dotted with ancient warehouses, merchant homes, sweet shops as well as temples and shrines. No matter the season, it is a wonderful city to spend a day or two due to the many activities you can enjoy here. Since its spring, in this feature, we introduce the most beautiful cherry blossom viewing spots in this city.
There are 2 ways to get to Kawagoe. 1. From Ikebukuro Station (池袋), you can take the Tobu Toju Line (round-trip discount pass available) and get off at Kawagoe or Kawagoe-shi Station; you can also take the Seibu-Shinjuku Line and get off at Honkawagoe Station. 2. From Shinjuku Station (新宿), you can take the JR Saikyo/Kawagoe Line and get off at Kawagoe Station.
1. Nakain (中院)
Nakain (中院) temple was founded in the year 830 during the Heian period by the head priest Ennin. Known to spread the religious teachings of Tendai Buddhism, it controlled more than 580 temples of the Tendai sect throughout the Kanto region of Japan. Nakain was moved to its current location to worship Shogun Ieyasu of the Tokugawa government in 1639. In 1976, the Tendai sect religious authority gave this temple a special name for its historical significance and beauty.
The best part about this temple is that there are plenty of cherry blossom trees as well as a small Japanese garden making it a perfect walking spot in spring.
2. Kitain (喜多院)
Kitain (喜多院) temple has a history of 1200 years. It's story begins when monk Ennin founded Muryojuji (temple) in the year 830 under Emperor Junna's orders. There was a time when Muryojuji had three parts: Kitain (the northern temple), Nakain (the middle temple), and Minaminoin (the southern temple).
Kitain burned down during fights in 1205 and was rebuilt in 1296 by the monk Sonkai. Then, it flourished as a central place for studying Tendai Buddhist teachings in the Kanto region. Most prosperous under the monk Tenkai, the 27th head priest of Kitain, the characters for the temple were changed from 北院 (kita-in), meaning “temple in the north” to 喜多院 (ki-ta-in) meaning "a temple full of happiness." Gaining the trust of the Tokugawa shogunate from the first shogun, Kitain was patronized by the shogunate throughout the Edo period.
This is where you can enjoy a view of cherry blossoms and a beautiful two-storeyed pagoda. A great photo spot!
3. Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja (川越氷川神社)
Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja (shrine) is said to have been built in the second year of Emperor Kinmei during the Kofun period about 1,500 years ago. Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine is dedicated to five gods. The main deity is Susanoo-no-mikoto. The other deities are Ashinazuchi-no-mikoto and Tenazuchi-no-mikoto, a married couple, and their daughter, Kushinadahime-no-mikoto, and Oonamuchi-no-mikoto, who is said to be the descendant of Susanoo-no-mikoto and Kushidahime-no-mikoto and is also known as the god of marriage at Izumo Taisha.
Since these gods are family members, it is believed that Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja enshrines the god of familial harmony as well as the god of good marital relations since two husband and wife gods are among the shrine’s deities.
The most exciting part is the Hikawa River that runs along the back of the shrine that is lined with cherry blossoms on both sides. You can also take a boat to see these cherry blossoms or walk along the river. https://www.kawagoehikawa.jp Google Map
4. Kashou Umon Bell Tower Branch (菓匠右門時の鐘店)
And finally, take a break from all the cherry blossoms by enjoying this adorable Koi Soft (恋ソフト), a cute heart-shaped ice cream that matches the colors of spring at Kashou Umon, a traditional Japanese sweets shop.
So how did you enjoy this feature? If you're in Tokyo or Saitama this spring, don't miss out on these cherry blossom spots.