Pretty much no stone has been unturned in Tokyo by the many, many YouTubers (and some bloggers too!) who either live in the capital or come to visit from further afield. Bordering prefectures have been covered far less though, especially Saitama to the north which gets something of a bad rep and is often called DaSai-tama which is a blending of the word for dull (dasai) and the place name itself.
Tokyo Fox is always keen to share (vaguely) interesting places from those prefectures and this post profiles a few largely unknown sights. Before taking in the Rugby World Cup warm-up match between Japan and South Africa in Kumagaya, I spent the daytime in some places just south of there. First up was Konosu Station which is just 50 minutes north of Ikebukuro. Outside the station I hopped on to a bus and took a 15 minute ride to find a golden god statue (3443-1 Kamitanadare, Kazo-Shi) which seemed like some kind of extension of the seven gods of Saitama trail I did a year ago.
After disembarking from the bus there was still the matter of a kilometre to walk on what was a hot day. The rear of it eventually came into sight and I wondered if it was even open to the public as it just looked like it was someone’s home in this peaceful rural area.
I couldn’t find a path leading to the temple so ended up cutting through a field to get there.
Despite having a few interactions with the seven gods of fortune over the last few years, I’m still far from being anyway near an expert but it seems to me like this is Hotei who is the smiling (or laughing) buddha with the bald head and the big waistline!
It’s a small temple which I believe is a branch of the main headquarters in Hyogo Prefecture. Step inside and there are dozens and dozens of mini golden buddha statues and as ever the offerings made at the altar caught my attention. This time it was tins of pineapple slices!
Back on the train and one stop further up the JR Takasaki Line is Kita Konosu Station. Ten minutes walk north of there took me to Mitsugi Shrine (169 Ainomachi, Konosu).
From the front it just looks like a small regular shrine but the real highlight is located behind the main hall.
Such red monkey stone statues are very rare. I can’t be too sure of this but I think they’re painted red in the place where you want to cure the disease but it just seems to me like they’ve been completely covered. Best to be safe though and quite literally cover all areas!
People go to this spiritual shrine to pray for things such as menstrual irregularities, STD’s, infertility and safe delivery. In prayer for the latter, it is customary to borrow a monkey statue and return it in two once it’s been delivered safely.
There are supposedly some 6000 monkey statues in the hall.
Back by the entrance was a giant 22 metre-tall tree which is about four hundred years old. This area of land was just a thicket back then but it was cleared and the surrounding trees were cut down except for this one incredible-looking zelkova tree which has a painted monkey statue enshrined within it. It was designated as a natural monument in Konosu City in 1963.
Tamaku Sluice Gate was another place I was interested to see but it was over six kilometres away. I was really tempted to just sack it off but if I did that I knew the chances of me returning to this area for that only were slim. Consequently, I ploughed on and walked for nearly 80 minutes to see it as I had a lot of time to kill before the rugby.
For some reason I have become quite interested in such structures in recent years and have now visited a few of them. They never seem to be too easy to get to either.
It then took another 50 minutes (albeit amidst some fine scenery at times) to get to Fukiage Station where I proceeded to go a couple of stops further up the line to Kumagaya where I saw South Africa get some kind of revenge on Japan for their surprise defeat by the Brave Blossoms in the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
Click here to read ‘Japan & South Africa Meet For The First Time Since “That” Huge Shock In 2015’
Click here to read ‘Seven Gods Tour In Saitama (Plus Yoshimi Hyakuana Revisited Again!)’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Top 10 Saitama Sights’