Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin Temple

Menuma Shodenzan

Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin Temple (妻沼聖天山) is Saitama Prefecture’s sole National Treasure building. It is a magnificent restoration of a 250-year-old building covered with intricate woodcarvings.

Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin temple was built during 1735 to 1760, taking 25 years. The woodcarvings all but lost their original color and splendor after 2.5 centuries under the weather. However, following an enthusiastic local campaign to restore the building’s artwork, the building was painstakingly restored. And what a magnificent job they did, taking seven years from 2003. Despite having modern sensing equipment, they sometimes still could not tell what the original paint color was for certain parts. A very time-consuming work.

But they were rewarded with the building designated as a National Treasure in May 2012. The restored building was opened for public viewing on June 1, 2011. Admission is 700 yen. Guided tours are conducted, but only in Japanese. You can freely walk around and view the building.



Monkeys hold up the building.


Menuma Shodenzan’s Kisomon Gate is unusual for its triple gables.

Menuma Shodenzan is about a 20-min. bus ride from JR Kumagaya Station. Go to Bus stop No. 6 near JR Kumagaya Station’s North exit.

More photos here.

Kumagaya Uchiwa Matsuri Festival 2013

Video link:

Kumagaya in Saitama Prefecture is famous for some of the hottest summer temperatures in the Tokyo/Kanto area. On a relatively “cool” (around 33 C) evening, I went to see the Uchiwa Matsuri of 12 ornate floats paraded around the streets until they all converged at a major intersection. It was the final evening and festival climax on July 22, 2013.

Hina Matsuri Doll Festival at Konosu, Saitama

Konosu Bikkuri Hina Matsuri doll festival at Konosu City Hall, Saitama.

Happy Grrlz Day! Saw Hinamatsuri at Konosu City Hall in Saitama Prefecture for the first time. The lobby had a huge pyramid (7 meters high) of 1,800 hina dolls flanked by more doll displays on both sides. And the front porch had 2,000 dolls (displayed only on weekends). Awesome.

On weekends when it’s not raining, they also display 2,000 hina dolls on the front porch.

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Iruma Air Show

Nov. 3 is when the annual Iruma Air Show is held at Iruma Air Base in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture. It’s one of Japan’s most spectacular free shows. The main attraction is the Blue Impulse Aerobatic Team performing thrilling stunts in the sky. I went on Nov. 3, 2010 on a beautiful sunny day. A record-breaking 280,000 people were also there. This year also happens to be the 50th anniversary of the Blue Impulse, established in 1960 and inspired by the Thunderbirds of the US Air Force. Iruma Air Base is the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s largest air base. See my video and photos below.

Photos here: