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Photo By: Abhijit Sen
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Heirin-ji Temple

A centuries-old shrine, Heirin-ji, nestled in a forest near Tokyo is considered one of the most beautiful autumn places in Saitama.

By Abhijit Sen

Despite being very close to central Tokyo, the Heirin-ji temple is unknown to many travelers. The temple premises are one of the most beautiful places to visit during the fall season in Saitama. Apart from being scenic, this temple has a rich and interesting history, and its structure and layout are quite different.

Knowing the Unknown

Heirinji Temple

Photo by: Abhijit Sen Witness history.

About 650 years ago, Heirin-ji Temple was founded at Iwatsuki Ward, in Saitama District, Musashi Province. But in 1663, Matsudaira Nobutsuna, a feudal lord of Kawagoe relocated it to its current location Nobitome. He served the Tokugawa shogunate and was one of the powerful clans of that time. Heirin-ji Temple is his family temple.  The graveyards of the ancestors and descendants of the Matsudaira family are still in the forest area of this shrine.

Traditional Thatched Roof Temple

Heirinji Temple

Photo by: Abhijit Sen A traditional side to Japan set against a backdrop of autumn foliage.

The temple area starts from the thatched roofed main gate and there is a small reception desk placed to collect tickets to enter the temple. Next comes the ‘Sanmon’ gate which symbolizes the Heirin-ji Temple. A 350-year-old gate that reveals the true beauty of the shrine atmosphere.

Although the temple premises are spread over a large area, several places are off-limits for general visitors. The main reason is that it is a Rinzai Zen shrine and is still very active. At the Sanmon Gate, two terrifying deities stare fiercely at the visitors and stand in a ‘Do not enter’ commanding posture. So, it is necessary to observe the rules of the temple during the visit.

Lush, Green and Serene

Heirinji Temple

Photo by: Abhijit Sen Take a stroll through the forest.

The most pleasing part of the temple is its vast precinct forest, which is about the size of nine Tokyo Domes. Currently, there are various trees in this forest but the most prominent among them is maple. It is a nationally designated natural monument.

During autumn, Heirinji Temple is surrounded by red, yellow, and green trees. During late November to early December, maple trees turn red, ginkgoes and oaks turn yellow, and the dark green pines give it the feel of a Zen atmosphere. The shrine looks distinctively beautiful mainly because of the thatched-roofed temple, and gate, surrounded with bright autumn leaves. A forest bathing (also known as Shinrin-yoku) will refresh the soul.

Things To Know



Suizokuken Forest is located across the road from the main gate of Heirinji Temple and is a part of the Heirinji Forest. There is an old traditional house and garden inside this area. It was originally a private house built in the late Edo period but Yasuzaemon Matsunaga, a famous tea master turned it into a hermitage. Currently, it is a designated tangible cultural property of Japan.

Suizokuken has no entry fee and is open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Closed on Mondays and Wednesdays 


Heirinji shrine entrance fee is ¥500 for adults; and ¥200 for children. It is open from 9 a.m.– 3:30 p.m. 

How To Get There


By train

From Ikebukuro station by using Tobu Tojo Line and Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line and Fukutoshin Line for Shiki or Asakadai station or by using JR Musashino Line for Niiza or Kitasaka station and it takes 15 to 20 minutes from each station to Heirinji bus stop.

Where To Stay

Hotel Livemax Saitama Asaka-Ekimae
  • 2-6-9 Honcho, Asaka-shi, Saitama, 351-0011 Japan
  • ¥6,375 - ¥44,200
  • 3.73/5 (192 reviews)
  • 3.3 km
Wakoshi Tobu Hotel
  • 4-7 Honcho, Wako-shi, Saitama, 351-0114 Japan
  • ¥8,300 - ¥34,400
  • 4.71/5 (483 reviews)
  • 4.6 km
Hotel Cadenza Tokyo
  • 5-8-20 Takamatsu, Nerima-ku, Tokyo, 179-0075 Japan
  • ¥11,700 - ¥48,200
  • 4.21/5 (1,929 reviews)
  • 6.6 km
Tokorozawa Park Hotel
  • 3-5 Higashisumiyoshi, Tokorozawa-shi, Saitama, 359-1124 Japan
  • ¥9,600 - ¥12,800
  • 4.57/5 (1,120 reviews)
  • 8.0 km
Kumegawa Wing Hotel
  • 1-15-6 Sakaecho, Higashimurayama-shi, Tokyo, 189-0013 Japan
  • ¥7,920 - ¥15,840
  • 3.83/5 (655 reviews)
  • 8.9 km

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