It takes just 30 minutes by train from Ikebukuro, Tokyo to get to Kawagoe City in Saitama Prefecture. During the Samurai days of the Edo Era, Kawagoe flourished as a merchant town, sending supplies to Edo (today’s Tokyo). Traditional warehouse buildings still line the streets to this day to create a yesteryear atmosphere.
It is now a popular tourism destination, affectionately known as “Little Edo.” Featuring Kawagoe’s symbol “Bell Tower,” which was used to tell time through the bell chimes in the Edo days when the use of clocks was still uncommon, the Kawagoe streetscape is designated as a Traditional Architectures Preservation District.
The city also hosts the 360-year-old Kawagoe Festival, dating back to the Edo Era. This issue‘s special feature is about Kawagoe, a city on Tokyo’s outskirts that lets you enjoy the Edo Era streetscape and traditional festivals.
Put on a Kimono for a stroll in the traditional merchant town
Put on a rental Kimono at “Vivian” near the Bell Tower before setting off for a stroll in the Kawagoe streets lined with shops and traditional warehouse buildings. Kawagoe’s local delicacy is sweet potato. Prepare yourself to be wowed by the “sweet potato chips” served with salt and dip at Koedo Osatsu-An (463 yen excl. taxes) and “Imokoi”, a confection containing sweet potato and smooth red bean paste, at Umon (167 yen excl. taxes).
Another local delicacy, Kawagoe Matcha green tea powder, which is used in the “Kawagoe Matcha Warabi-Mochi” box set of traditional firm jelly (250g), is available at Sawawa (500 yen excl. taxes). It is found near the famous Candy Alley, which features about 20 confectionery stores selling traditional Japanese candies.
Sweet potato chips
Kawagoe Matcha Warabi-Mochi
Matchmaking wind chimes at the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
The Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine was built around 1500 years ago. The locals have been coming here ever since the olden days to pray for “happiness in the family”, “happiness in marriage”, and “matchmaking”. From July 7th (Sat.) to September 9th (Sun.) in 2018, the Shrine is decorated with over 2,000 colorful Edo wind chimes in its annual “matchmaking wind chime” festival.
Immerse yourself in in this magical place with the refreshing sounds of the wind chimes in order to experience the seasonal charms of Japanese summer.
Simulated experience of the Kawagoe Festival
The Kawagoe Festival, famous for colorful and ornate floats, will be held on October 20th (Sat.) and 21st (Sun.) in 2018. The Kawagoe Festival Museum near the Bell Tower displays the floats and is equipped with a massive screen for a simulated experience of the exciting festival.
Kawagoe Festival Museum
Introducing the KAWAGOE DISCOUNT PASS PREMIUM
At the Tobu Ikebukuro Station, you can buy a Premium Discount Pass that covers a round train trip between Tobu Tojo Line’s Ikebukuro Station and Kawagoe or Kawagoe-shi Station, as well as unlimited rides on the Koedo Loop Hop-on, Hop-off bus services that travel along tourist sites including Kawagoe Station, Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, and the Warehouse District.
All photos courtesy of Tobu.