"Semba Toshogu Shrine " - Historical Grounds of the Tokugawa Family (Builders of the Edo Period)
Nikko's Toshogu Shrine is the most famous Toshogu for honoring Tokugawa Ieyasu but there are numerous Toshogu Shrines throughout Japan. The Toshogu found in Kawagoe is one of the three major Toshogu Shrines in Japan called, "Semba Toshogu Shrine". In 1616, Tokugawa Ieyasu died in Sunpu (present day Shizuoka Prefecture) and the remains were carried from Shizuoka to Nikko Mountain. On the way, a four day Buddhist memorial service was held by Tenkai Sojyo at Kita-in Temple. As a result, Toshogu Shrine was built in 1633 on the southside of Kita-in Temple.
Five years later in 1638, "The Big Fire of Kanei" burned down everything except for the Kita-in Mountain Gate. When Tokugawa Iemitsu declared the restoration of Kita-in Temple, the reconstruction of Toshogu began first and was completed in 1640. The Honden Main Shrine with its brilliant colored lacquer ornaments, and Karamon Gate, Mizugaki Fence, Haiden Front Shrine, Heiden Side Shrine, Zuishin Front Gate, stone Torii Gate are all recognized as important cultural assets. The pillars found in the shrine pavilions have elaborate carvings that suit Toshogu Shrine. Inside the main shrine, a statue of Ieyasu can be found. Among the cultural assets are the pictures of Sanjyu Roku Kasen Egaku and 12 sided Taka Egaku.
"Hikawa Shrine" - Kawagoe's Village Shrine and Beautiful Torii Gate
The tall torii gate is 15 meters high and is found on the approach. The grounds of the Shinto Shrine are filled with numerous trees over 500 years old and the sacred keyaki tree rustles in the wind. The history of Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine dates back to the 6th century when it separated from Omiya Hikawa Shrine. Later, Ota Dokan, who constructed Kawagoe Castle, became familiar as "Hikawa-sama (Mr. Hikawa)". The sacred shrine pavillion with its elaborate Edo carvings was constructed by Matsudaira Naritsune, a castle lord, as a donation. In the center of the bright vermillon red torii gate is a framed symbol with writings from Katsu Kaishu.
In 1956, the Main Shrine and other historical buildings that pass on Edo culture were registered as designated cultural properties of Saitama Prefecture. Known for enshrining the god of married couples, it is believed to be the "God of Marriage" and many couples can be seen holding weddings every year. If you are lucky, you may be able to see a bride wearing a shiromuku, a pure white kimono. Throughout the year there are many types of events. In February, there are prayers for "traffic safety / achievements in studies" and "purification of student's leather backpacks". In August, there is the Takigi Noh (Noh dance performed under the light of a bonfire) and in mid October, the famous Kawagoe Festival. Within the shrine grounds full of greenery, not only will you see visitors coming to pray, but also locals who come to relax and enjoy the four seasons.
"Naka-in Temple" - "Tendaishu" Special Temple, Origin of Kawagoe and Sayama Tea
Naka-in Temple (828 AD), was built by the great religious leader, Jikaku-Daishi Ennin, in the Heian Period during the 53rd imperial generation reign of the emperor, Junna. It is famous as a place full of cherry blossoms and the branches in front of the main temple are especially famous. The inner compound is lush with plant life, and in the spring, summer, fall, and winter, the colors change and the expression of the seasons fills people with delight. It is also famous as the place of origin of Kawagoe tea and Sayama tea. It is said that it began at the time of the temple's creation, when Ennin brought tea leaves into the compound and cultivated them as medicine, and that there were also tea fields inside the compound in the past.
Inside the compound, there is a stone monument recording this event. The tea room "Fusentei", which is associated with Toson Nakazaki, is now used by those who enjoy the tea ceremony and preserves Japanese tradition. This temple is a great place for touching nature and slowly feeling the flow of time. It leaves your mind feeling refreshed and cleansed.
"Renkeiji Temple", a temple for a fun visit
Renkeiji Temple was constructed in 1554 by Renkei Daishi, the mother of the Kawagoe castellan of the time, Daisonji Masatugu. In the Edo period it was a nationally certified Buddhist University (Danrin). Lord Donryu, who helped those in need and children, lived here and is enshrined as a Buddha. Many people come daily to pray. Also, "Binzurusama", a disciple of Buddha, is seated at the entrance, and it is said that if you touch it your illnesses will be healed. You can also learn about the Seven Deities of Good Luck, and every month on the 8th there is a temple fair with product exhibitions, story telling and other events. There are also various charms on sale every day.
Stepping away from the streets of the visage of Edo/Meiji and walking on the granite stone pathways—that is the world of "Taisho Romance". The retro atmosphere with Machiyazukuri and western style signs joining the eves, it is like you have traveled back to the Taisho period. For a moment, you will forget the hustle and bustle of city life. There are no power cables in the sky and it is very open. It is an exciting, half-forgotten mysterious sensation which makes you feel somehow nostalgic. We are waiting for you, not just with the antiquity of goodwill, but to do real business which gives value to the interaction of people. Inside, there are merchant houses which date all the way back to the Edo Period as well as many new, unique shops.