A town filled with huge temples, lively summer festivals, and stunning cherry blossoms
Located between the Arakawa and Tone Rivers in northern Saitama , Kumagaya makes for an easy sojourn from Tokyo. Boasting temples, shrines, festivals, ancient burial mounds and a historic steam train, the town is a great place to explore all year round.
- Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin Temple with its ornate woodcarvings and brilliant decoration
- Kumagaya Uchiwa Matsuri's parade of floats, mikoshi portable shrines, and drumming competition
- Cherry blossom viewing on the banks of the Arakawa River
How to Get There
Kumagaya is just an hour by train from Tokyo.
The best way to get to Kumagaya Station by train is to take the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. Kumagaya Station is located right in the center of the town.
The hottest place in Japan?
Kumagaya holds the title of having some of the highest summer temperatures in Japan. There's a massive thermometer in front of Kumagaya Station emblazoned with the town's slogan “Atsui zo!” (it's hot), telling observers the temperature. While visitors may not want to be at Kumagaya during this time, there is plenty to see and do all throughout the year.
Spend time by the river
Although it's hot in summer, you're never far from a large river in Kumagaya. You can walk to the banks of the Arakawa River, and stroll along the nearby trails at Arakawa River Park.
The area is especially beautiful in spring when the cherry trees are in bloom. The cherry blossoms bloom light pink while nanohana flowers underneath bloom bright yellow, creating a scene of vivid color contrast.
Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin Temple
There are a number of temples and shrines dotted throughout Kumagaya, but the most impressive is Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin Temple. It is highly unusual in that the three sides of the back of the temple are formed from massive ornate wood carved panels. The carvings include monkeys with human-like facial expressions, elephants and other animals, as well as scenes of children playing, and mythical phoenixes. Each of the panels has a moral message. There are guided tours to explain the panels, but you might need a translator.
Kumagaya Uchiwa Matsuri
Kumagaya's festival is considered the best of the summertime Gion festivals. The name comes from the tradition of shopkeepers handing out fans (uchiwa) to passersby to beat the summer heat that the area's so famous for.
The festival features a colorful parade of floats, mikoshi portable shrines, music, special events, and food and drink. The main event of the festival is its drumming competition, where young men perform on the festival's parade floats and try to out-drum each other. The floats depict legendary Japanese historical features such as Jimmu, its first emperor.
Enjoy the scenery from the historic paleo express
Kumagaya Station is the terminus for the Paleo Express, an old steam locomotive that travels through some of the prettiest mountain scenery in the Kanto region. The train runs alongside the Arakawa River . On either side, you can see forested mountain slopes and views of the river. Not only is the scenery pretty, but it's a rare chance to ride an historic steam train.
The ancient burial mounds of Gyoda
Near Kumagaya is Gyoda, a small town with ancient burial grounds. The burial grounds were built from the 5th to 7th centuries and are now located in Gyoda's gorgeous Sakitama Kofun Park.
Gyoda offers other attractions as well. Oshi Castle, which was originally built during the 15th century, towers over the town. The area is also famous for the Ancient Lotus Park, which boasts 42 different types of lotuses, some of which were grown from seeds dating back 1,400 years.