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Kawagoe: 15 Fun Things to Do, Dining, and Sweets

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The charming city of Kawagoe can be reached in just 30 minutes from Tokyo's Ikebukuro Station. Immerse yourself in history, the impressive Kawagoe Festival, the charm of HIkawa Shrine, and delicious local treats. We introduce 15 fun things to enjoy in Kawagoe.

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Kawagoe, a city in Saitama Prefecture, is often referred to as "Little Edo" because of its well-preserved historic district that resembles old Tokyo during the Edo period (1603-1868). This beautiful city can be easily reached from Tokyo in about 30 minutes by train.

The main attractions in Kawagoe include the Kurazukuri Street with its traditional warehouses that now house shops and restaurants, and the iconic bell tower called Toki no Kane, which chimes four times a day.

Kawagoe is known for its traditional festivals, delicious street food, and Japanese crafts, and is a popular destination for visitors who want to experience a taste of Japan's rich history and culture.

Discover Kawagoe

1. How to Get to Kawagoe: Transportation Guide
2. 8 Must-Visit Places in Kawagoe
U_PLACE: For Shopping and Dining
Taisho Roman Yume-dori Street
Former Yamazaki Family Villa
Kurazukuri Street
Kawagoe's Time Bell Tower: Toki no Kane
Hikawa Shrine
Shin-Kawagoe River: For Cherry Blossoms
Kashiya Yokocho Candy Alley
3. Kawagoe Kimono Day
4. Kawagoe's Local Cuisine and Delightful Sweets
Unagi Rice
Kawagoe Starbucks Concept Store
Matcha Dessert Set at Wahoan
Sweet Potato Chips at Koedo Osatsuan
Ice Cream at Kajo Umon - Kawagoe Kenpi Workshop
Sweet Potato Mini Kaiseki at Tojirushi
5. Kawagoe Festival: The Third Weekend in October

How to Get to Kawagoe: Transportation Guide

There are two main ways to get to Kawagoe, with the Tobu Railway and the Seibu Shinjuku Line offering direct connections, making it a fast and convenient journey.

Tobu Railway: Tobu Tojo Line

From Ikebukuro Station, take the Tobu Tojo Line, and you can reach Kawagoe in about half an hour.

Currently, two types of tourist passes are available. You can purchase these passes at the South Ticket Gate of Ikebukuro Station on the Tobu Tojo Line, and at the TOBU TOP TOURS Ikebukuro branch with your passport.
KAWAGOE DISCOUNT PASS (710 yen): This pass includes a discounted round-trip ticket from Ikebukuro to Kawagoe Station or Kawagoeshi Station, as well as discounts at facilities in the Ikebukuro and Kawagoe areas.

KAWAGOE DISCOUNT PASS Premium (1,050 yen): In addition to the benefits mentioned above, this pass also includes a free zone ticket for railways and buses.

Please note that prices and conditions are subject to change, so it's advisable to check the official website for the most up-to-date information.

Seibu Railway

You can reach Hon-Kawagoe Station from both Seibu Shinjuku and Seibu Ikebukuro stations (with one transfer if needed). You can use the Kawagoe One-Day Pass (700 yen) on both of these routes.

Whether you choose to disembark at Kawagoe Station, Kawagoeshi Station, or Hon-Kawagoe Station depends on how you plan your itinerary, as all of them will lead you to the main Kawagoe old town area.

If you have the energy, you can explore on foot after getting off the train. However, in the Kawagoe area, there are also convenient transportation options available, such as the Koedo Meguri Sightseeing Bus. Just keep in mind that public transportation can get crowded during holidays.

Must-Visit Places in Kawagoe

The must-visit attractions in Kawagoe are actually not far from each other, so let the editors provide a complete introduction all at once for everyone!

1. U_PLACE: Excellent Dining by Kawagoe Station

U_PLACE

At the west exit of Kawagoe Station, you will find a new complex called U_PLACE that opened in June 2020. This eleven-story building offers a range of dining options, accommodations, and various types of shops.

Enjoy popular local dishes like Oyakodon (chicken and egg rice bowl) and egg sandwiches. Indulge in dining at the COEDO beer restaurant or satisfy your sweet tooth with desserts from Kawagoe Tower.

If you choose, you can also stay at the Tobu Hotel in Kawagoe. The abundance of options may captivate you even before you venture into the old town!

2. Taisho Roman Yume-dori Street

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Taisho Roman Yume-dori Street is a historic street that preserves a collection of Western-style buildings from the Meiji and Taisho eras (1925-1989). Along the way, you'll find shops selling Kawagoe souvenirs, and many of these architectural treasures are still used as facilities, adding to the cultural richness of the area.

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Here, you can capture picturesque scenes with a Japanese touch. During the period around Children's Day (May 5), the streets are adorned with colorful and playful carp streamers, creating a spectacular sight.

3. Former Yamazaki Family Villa

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If you want to witness the fusion of Japanese and Western architectural styles from the Taisho era, we highly recommend visiting the Former Yamazaki Family Villa.

The stained glass windows in the staircase, the Japanese-style garden with sliding doors (called "ranma"), and the tatami-mat hallways all feature intricate designs that will leave you in awe.

4. Kurazukuri Street

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Kurazukuri Street is a condensed representation of Edo-era charm. During the Edo Shogunate period, there was a promotion of fire-resistant tile-roofed buildings, which led to the prevalence of the architectural style characterized by black walls, black tiles, and thick double-leafed doors in the Kawagoe region.

The local government actively preserves the cultural and historical landscape, allowing a harmonious coexistence of old and new. In such an environment, you can experience the beautiful illusion of time standing still.

5. Kawagoe's Time Bell Tower: Toki no Kane

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Kawagoe's most iconic landmark is the over 400-year-old wooden Time Bell Tower, or Toki no Kane.

It still chimes four times a day, serving its timekeeping function, and the dignified tolling of the bell resonates throughout the old town, adding to its historic charm.

6. Hikawa Shrine

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Kawagoe's Hikawa Shrine boasts a history of over 1,500 years and is a popular shrine known for granting blessings in matters of love and relationships. It is also home to Japan's largest wooden torii gate.

During the summer wind chime festival, wind chimes hanging from wooden frames sway with the breeze, creating a delightful and soothing tinkling sound that offers a refreshing experience. Additionally, the "ema" tunnel, where votive tablets with wishes from devotees are tied, forms a dazzling display when illuminated by sunlight.

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Here, fortune-telling is not done by drawing lots; it's done by "fishing" for them! Test your luck by fishing for a lucky fish mascot and make a wish for good fortune!

7. Cherry Blossoms along the Shin-Kawagoe River

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The Shin-Kawagoe River, located behind the Hikawa Shrine in Kawagoe, attracts cherry blossom enthusiasts every spring when the sakura trees are in full bloom.

The best time for photography is when the cherry blossoms create a picturesque scene with their petals falling, painting the river's surface in pink hues—a truly stunning moment to capture.

8. Kashiya Yokocho Candy Alley

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It all began with a man named Fujisaburo Suzuki who crafted sweets beloved by the common people in the region. After the Great Kanto Earthquake in September 1923, when the disaster situation was more severe in Tokyo, Kawagoe played a vital role in supplying sweets, leading to the development and flourishing of what is now known as "Kashiya Yokocho" or Candy Alley.

While the number of shops may not be as numerous as in the past, you can still step into these stores and find a colorful array of snacks. Take your time to indulge in the pure joy of sweets.

Kimono Day in Kawagoe

On the 8th, 18th, and 28th of every month, it's Kimono and Yukata Day in Kawagoe. If you stroll around Kawagoe wearing a yukata or kimono on these days, you can take advantage of various discounts and benefits while shopping and savoring local cuisine.

These perks may include a complimentary cup of coffee after a meal, free ice cream, or direct discounts when purchasing souvenirs. For more details, please refer to the official website.

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Feeling tired of wearing the same kimono or yukata? At Kawagoe Kimono Rental Yuyashiki, you'll find numerous options to choose from.

We recommend the classic and elegant Taisho Romantic style, featuring a relaxed kimono with a charming wavy hem, low-heeled boots, and a stylish woven straw hat that provides shade while complementing your style. This fashionable ensemble stands out from the ordinary, and as you step out of the store, every street corner becomes your stage.

Kawagoe's Local Cuisine and Delightful Sweets

Unagi Rice: A Classic and Delicious Choice in Kawagoe

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Kawagoe is known for its famous traditional dish - unagi rice. The Shin-Kawagoe River and Iruma River, once teeming with eel, have contributed to the city's thriving unagi rice restaurant scene.

Notable establishments like Ogawa Kiku, Ogawa Tofu, Tooya, and Fukaiya offer the opportunity to experience this exquisite delicacy.

Kawagoe Starbucks Concept Store: A Must-Visit

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Located near the Time Bell, the Starbucks concept store in Kawagoe is a must-visit. Its exterior, constructed with locally sourced Saitama cedar wood, preserves the elegant kurazukuri architectural style, seamlessly blending in with the street's ambiance.

The interior and courtyard are meticulously designed, providing a serene setting to enjoy a cup of coffee while listening to the bell chimes. It's easy to find yourself immersed in this tranquil atmosphere, wanting to stay a little longer.

Matcha Dessert Set at Wahoan

kawagoe

Wahoan, located on the second floor of tea shop Nagamine-en, is a tea and coffee shop with an impressive selection of teas, including matcha and roasted tea.

But it doesn't stop at just drinking tea; here, you can also enjoy the experience of "eating tea." Highly sought-after among women, the gold leaf-roasted tea chocolate offers a delightful combination of a melt-in-your-mouth texture and the aromatic essence of tea.

Sweet Potato Chips at Koedo Osatsuan

kawagoe

Koedo Osatsu-an is renowned for its oversized sweet potato chips, perfectly crispy and golden brown when fried, without any greasiness.

To tantalize your taste buds, they offer an array of dipping sauces, including unconventional yet delicious options such as chocolate and cream.

Ice Cream at Kajo Umon - Kawagoe Kenpi Workshop

kawagoe

Kajo Umon is known for its sweet potato confections but they also offer a delectable two-color sweet potato ice cream, perfect for hot summer days.

Made with Hokkaido fresh milk and natural purple sweet potatoes, this ice cream has a naturally sweet and delightful flavor that even those who don't usually enjoy sweets can appreciate!

Sweet Potato Mini Kaiseki at Tojirushi

kawagoe

Tojirushi specializes in sweet potato kaiseki cuisine, where sweet potatoes are incorporated into every aspect of the meal, from appetizers to main courses and desserts. Despite the abundance of sweet potato ingredients, the dishes are skillfully prepared to avoid monotony or overwhelming flavors.

The chef harmoniously combines Japanese and Western seasoning techniques, creating a unique and flavorful dining experience for each dish.

Kawagoe Festival: An Absolutely Fantastic Celebration!

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Renowned as one of the three major festivals in eastern Japan, the Kawagoe Festival boasts a history of over 300 years. Held on the third weekend of October every year, this festival's centerpiece is the magnificent Edo-style float parade, which faithfully recreates the "Tenka Matsuri" from the Edo period.

Elaborate dolls and characters grace the ornate floats as they traverse the main streets of Kawagoe. The air is perfumed with tantalizing aromas from food stalls, adding to the festive ambiance.

Kawagoe: 15 Fun Things to Do, Dining, and Sweets

Photo by Pixta

As the floats draw near and pass each other, two teams engage in spirited dance and music competitions, while onlookers wave lanterns and cheer with enthusiasm. It is truly a vibrant and extraordinary spectacle.

If you have missed the festival or cannot visit on that day, visit the Kawagoe Festival Museum. Open throughout the year, this facility exhibits impressive festival floats, which you can see in detail up-close, along with video footage of the festival.

Visit Kawagoe on a Day Trip from Tokyo!

In recent years, Kawagoe has been capturing increased attention, and its distinction as a "Little Edo" among the myriad "Little Kyotos" sets it apart.

A visit to Kawagoe promises a unique experience, where tradition is upheld while embracing new ventures, contributing to the continued vitality of the entire area. Its enchanting charm beckons, with a commitment to the heritage that sets it apart from fleeting trends.

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miho

東京

Born in Taiwan. Currently living in Tokyo. Currently editor in chief of MATCHA's Taiwanese website. In the past, I worked as an editor for a Japanese fashion magazine, as a Japanese language teacher at a private high school in Taipei, as an interpreter for Shiseido and other Japanese and Taiwanese companies. I've also had experience as an inbound tourism copywriter. My Facebook page 'Tokyo beyond studying abroad' 東京、不只是留學(留学だけじゃなくて)boasts 120,000 followers. Blogger with readers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan, of which 70% are female readers. I have covered over 300 locations and stores in my articles. Writing about the latest trends, places off the beaten path, and traditional culture. Published six books on Japan in Taiwan and Asia. Facebook → https://www.facebook.com/filmmiho/ Instagram → @mihowang47
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