Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Renkeiji: A Temple to Pray for Child-Related Matters in Kawagoe

Renkeiji (蓮馨寺) is the temple in Kawagoe closest to Taishō Roman Yume-dōri. It is close to the street’s popular udon restaurant, Udon Tsumugi. The temple has a serene atmosphere and is rich in history. Since its establishment in the mid-16th century, the locals would go there and pray for various things, especially child-related matters, such as safe delivery.

About Renkeiji Temple

While many of the buildings in the precinct have a contemporary appearance, Renkeiji was erected in 1549 by the mother of Daidōji Masashige (大道寺政繁), the lord of Kawagoe Domain at the time.

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The temple soon became a place for the locals to pray to Buddhas and gods and to seek internal peace. In fact, until Shintoism was separated from Buddhism at the beginning of the Meiji period, Kawagoe Kumano Shrine across the road was a part of Renkeiji.

As a temple with Amida Buddha as the main image, in 1602, Renkeiji became one of the Kantō Eighteen Danrin (関東十八檀林), the official monk cultivation institution in the Edo period. Tokugawa clan’s family crest was thus hung around the precinct, and it is said that even the lord of Kawagoe Domain had to put down his weapon and bow to the temple when passing the temple’s front gate!

Renkeiji’s Purification Fountain

While a purification fountain is common at Japanese shrines and temples, the one at Renkeiji is worth your attention. It is the only two architectures in the precinct that escaped the fate of being burnt to ashes in the big fire in 1893, which destroyed most buildings in Kawagoe.

This purification fountain is one of those artworks that might make you forget about its original purpose. So remember to purify yourself with the water there after you admire the intricate carvings of auspicious animals!

Renkeiji’s Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja (おびんずる様) and the God of Fortune and Longevity: Fukurokuju (福祿寿神)

In front of the main worship hall, you will notice a red monk statue. He is Buddha’s disciple, Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja. It is said that your physical illness will be cured by touching his body. And if you stroke his head, you will become smarter!

So don’t be surprised to see someone touching the statue from head to toe (´▽`*).

The God of Fortune and Longevity is enshrined on the right of the worship hall, so don’t forget to pray to him for good fortune, prosperity, and longevity!

The Bell Tower, Where the Temple Prays for People’s Happiness

Just like most temples in the world, Renkeiji has a bell tower. The bell made in 1695 is the other building of Renkeiji that remained standing after the great fire hazard in 1893.

Unlike Kawagoe’s landmark, Toki no Kane Bell Tower, Renkeiji’s bell is only rung at 3 pm 18 times. The number of times is taken from the fact that the temple was one of the Kantō Eighteen Danrin. The staff would ring the bell each day to pray for the happiness of those who could hear the clear sound of the bell.

Donryū Shōnin (呑龍上人) and Donryū Day (呑龍デー)

If you can, plan your visit to Renkeiji for the 8th of the month. It is the day when various events take place at the temple, such as performances and flea markets.

Renkeiji is one of the temples that enshrines Donryū Shōnin, who was regarded as a living Buddha and has achieved many miracles. Its main worship hall is thus named Donryū-dō (吞龍堂). You can pray to the Donryū Shōnin for safe delivery. Many also convey their worries to him, as it is said that when he was alive, he traveled across the country and solved all sorts of problems to make people happy.

Tip: Renkeiji is a hidden gem for cherry blossoms! The cherry blossom season at the temple is from late March to early April.

How to Get to Renkeiji Temple

  • Renkeiji Temple is a 15 to 20-minute walk from Kawagoe Station and a 5 to 10-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station.
  • If you plan to take a bus, get off at Renkeiji-mae (蓮馨寺前).

Explore Kawagoe With a Guided Tour

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charms of Kawagoe, how about joining one of the below tours? You can also hire a professional photographer to capture your visit!

Tips:
☛ You can reserve an 1-Hour Kawagoe Photography Session if you need a professional photographer to take photos of your visit.
☛ Exploring Kawagoe in the traditional Kimono can be a great way to explore the traditional township. Refer to HERE to book a dress-up session!
Kawagoe Dai-Ichi Hotel is a great place to spend a night in Kawagoe. It is close to Kawagoe Station and the shopping district filled with restaurants and shops, but in a quiet neighborhood.

Exploring Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street

Renkeiji Temple is close to one end of Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street. So after enjoying the activities at the shrine, how about visiting a few shops and cafés on the street that are filled with the Taisho era vibe?

If that sounds like a good idea, refer to our Guide to the Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street!

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Click the photo to find out more about the recommended spots on Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street!

The Must-Visit Spots on Kura no Machi Ichibangai Street

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Click the photo for more information about the shops and cafes on Kura no Machi Ichibangai Street!

After visiting the temple, how about enjoying some delicious desserts on the old township’s main street Kura no Machi Ichibangai?

While sweet potato might sound boring for some, the locals have their way of turning the ordinary ingredient into something extremely yummy!

For more information, refer to our Kura no Machi Ichibangai Street article!

Other Attractions in Kawagoe

Besides the religious spots, Kawagoe also has historical attractions, shops and restaurants, workshops, and museums that might interest you.

So refer to our Guide to the Little Edo, Kawagoe, for more travel ideas!

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