Once a flourishing castle town during the Edo period, Kawagoe is now known as Koedo (“little Edo”). The landscape overflows with atmosphere, thanks to the many shrines, temples, and historical sites that have remained. Upon arrival to Kawagoe, one should first change into a traditional kimono and stroll the cityscape of the sentimental kura (old warehouse) buildings.
Experience the Heart of Japan by wearing Rental Kimono!
If you are to walk around the city of Kawagoe, make sure to try a traditional Japanese kimono! Vivian is a store where you can easily experience wearing a kimono. The garments feature colourful red, blue, and green cloths, with various pictures and patterns. At this store, when you choose your preferred design out of several hundred kinds of kimono, the staff will suggest a kimono sash belt that suits to your choice.
When You’re Ready, Head to the Koedo District
Of course all of the accessories such as tabi (Japanese socks), zouri (Japanese sandals), hairstyle, and kimono fitting are included. You can make an unforgettable memory at Kawagoe for the very reasonable price of 2,000 yen for women, and 3,000 yen for men (tax not included).
The Town Symbol, Telling Time for 400 Years
A spot that you cannot miss while visiting Kawagoe, is the 16 meter high town symbol: Toki no Kane (literally, "the bell of time"). The original was built approximately 400 years ago in the early Edo period, and the current one is the fourth reconstruction made after the Kawagoe conflagration in the Meiji period. It is a three story wooden structure, and it tells the time with the loud bell sound at 6:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. The sound of Toki no Kane, which has sounded throughout the development of Kawagoe, was chosen as one of the "100 soundscapes of Japan", a list of soundscapes worth protecting, in 1996.
Savor the Traditional Atmosphere of the Old Days, While Munching on Snacks
Kashiya-yokocho (snack street) is especially lively, with over 20 stores gathered on both sides of the stone-paved street. The front of the shops showcase traditional Japanese snacks such as dagashi (a catch-all term for traditional cheap snacks), and nikki ame (a type of cinnamon candy), wrapped in pop-style packaging.
Sweets Connect the Past and Present
The history of this neighbourhood starts as early as the beginning of Meiji period. They were even manufacturing various sweets after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, on behalf of the confectionary stores in Tokyo. It is said there were more than 70 sweets stores in the early Showa era.
Eat As You Stroll Through a Retro Town
While walking through the streets, you can smell the pleasant aroma of baked soy sauce. Savor the simple charm of the alleyway, while enjoying grilled skewered dango (rice dumplings).
Visit a Shrine to Experience Japanese Traditional Culture
A truly old shrine with long history, which is said to be founded in 541. It has been loved by the lord of Kawagoe Castle and the townspeople as the so-chinju (a shrine which enshrines the patron spirits which protect a given area) after the castle was constructed in 1457. The buildings with delicate sculptures, such as the main temple, were registered as designated cultural properties of Saitama.
Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja attracts many visitors due to its five enshrined deities, who are gods of families and married couples, including the god of household harmony, marital happiness, and matchmaking. You can experience some Japanese traditional festivals such as the Tanabata Festival in August, and the Kawagoe Festival in October.