If you are in the Tokyo area and have one free day, travel back in time with a Tokyo day trip to “Little Edo” Kawagoe (川越市 Kawagoe-shi). The people of Kawagoe have preserved their city for all people today to experience the old castle town of Edo period (17th to the 19th centuries). Kawagoe is located in Saitama Prefecture; a 30-minute train ride from Ikebukuro, Tokyo.
Kawagoe is a curious and creative day trip any time of the year, but to be noted is the 28th of each month when the large Kawagoe Antique Market takes place. You can easily walk around the town, however, biking around is also a great option. The city of Kawagoe operates a bicycle sharing scheme in the city center, with eight pickup/parking locations. Enjoy your Tokyo Day Trip to “Little Edo” Kawagoe. If you are heading to Saitama, check out our recommendations in Saitama with kids.
The top 6 highlights for your Tokyo Day Trip to “Little Edo” Kawagoe
1. The main street of Kurazukuri (蔵造りの町並み Kurazukuri no machinami) is lined with traditional warehouses constructed in a style called kurazukuri (蔵造り) and maintains the style of the Edo period. Many of the warehouses are now artisan stores selling traditional crafts, antiques, and gift stores. The artisan shops in the area include Machikan, a sword and knife manufacturer in operation for generations. Please plan to spend a few hours viewing and shopping in these great stores.
2. The Bell of Time (時の鐘 Toki no kane) is a bell tower originally built between 1624 and 1644. The present structure goes back to 1894, a year after the Great Fire of Kawagoe. Currently, the bell can be heard four times a day (6:00, 12:00; 15:00, 18:00).
3. The Candy Street (菓子屋横丁 Kashiya Yokochō) is a small backstreet alley where a dozen stores sell old-fashioned sweets and snacks. Kawagoe is famous for its sweet potatoes. You can find sweet potato chips, sweet potato ice cream, sweet potato coffee, and even sweet potato beer, brewed at the local Koedo Brewery. A must visit if you have a sweet tooth.
4. The Kawagoe Kurazukuri Museum is located in a traditional warehouse built in 1893 and allows its visitors to walk around inside and experience the life of Edo merchants.
5. Kita-in Buddist Temple has 538 Rakan stone Buddha statues that are quite beautiful. It is a popular gathering spot for New Year celebrations where people come to pray for good luck, family and traffic safety.
6. Naritasan Kawagoe Betsuin Temple is where the monthly Kawagoe Antique Market take place. It opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. This market is well attended because you can find antique furniture, ceramics, and many other treasures. There is a large parking lot next to the temple but after 9:00 arrival expect to wait 30-40 mins in line to park. If you plan to shop, come early. You can park all day for under 1,000 yen, and enjoy walking all over town.
Access to Kawagoe – easy to reach from Tokyo; options include 30 mins from Ikebukuro on the Tobu Tojo Line, or 50 mins from Shinjuku on the JR Saikyo Line
Kawagoe Tourism Information in English http://www.koedo.or.jp/foreign/english/
If you visit the facility in Saitama we also recommend making a day trip of it and visiting the following locations:
Tokyo Day Trip to “Little Edo” Kawagoe
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