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Get a Kimono Makeover and Step Back in Time to Traditional Japan in "Little Edo", Kawagoe!

Get a Kimono Makeover and Step Back in Time to Traditional Japan in "Little Edo", Kawagoe!

Date published: 26 September 2019
Last updated: 24 March 2020

Kawagoe is a city at the southernmost tip of Saitama Prefecture and a mere 50-minute train ride away from Tokyo’s large Shinjuku Station. During the years of Japan’s shoguns, Kawagoe flourished because of the ship traffic to and from Tokyo on the city’s Iruma River. Back in the day, it was one of the most important merchant towns around Edo, as Tokyo was then called. Kawagoe’s nickname of “Little Edo” actually comes from this time, as regular exchange and steady flow with the capital had a big influence on Kawagoe’s culture. In Kawagoe, Old Edo is alive and well to this very day!

Why Go to Kawagoe?

Why Go to Kawagoe?

About one-third of the entire city of Kawagoe was burned to the ground in the great fire of 1893. The rebuilt houses weren’t only constructed from fireproof material but they all follow Japan’s beautiful “kurazukuri,” or warehouse-style architecture. They’re standing in Kawagoe to this very day, giving the city an intriguingly historic look. It almost feels like stepping back in time as you walk through the scenic streets – a characteristic that draws numerous fascinated Tokyoites and tourists to the town over and over again.

Rent a Yukata – the Most Authentic Way to Enjoy Kawagoe!

Rent a Yukata – the Most Authentic Way to Enjoy Kawagoe!

To become make the illusion of time travel perfect, you’ll need the proper attire. Head over to Coedo Vivian, a yukata rental specialty shop! The owner has been a stage actress a long time ago and hence knows everything about yukata and kimono, dressing you in the most professional way. From the yukata itself which is a lighter version of a kimono to the appropriate hairdo and accessories, everything is provided.

First, choose the color and pattern of your yukata. Then, add fitting accessories, such as a bag, shoes, decorations, and more.

Don’t worry about dressing – the skilled staff will do that for you. They’ll also knot the obi, the belt that holds the yukata in place, in a beautiful and unique way.

Various ornaments can be chosen to adorn your geisha-style hairdo and even people who sport short hair don’t have to miss out on that. Coedo Vivian offers wigs along with their rental kimono to make the illusion perfect – but only if you want to! The yukata rental costs 2,160 yen for women and 3,240 yen for men, with couple discounts being available as well! We highly recommend making a prior reservation.

  • Coedo Vivian
    • Address 14-5, Saiwaicho, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama, 350-0063
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Hon-Kawagoe Station (Seibu Shinjuku Line)
      20 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 090-3524-8979

Exploring Kawagoe While Snacking at Koedo Osatsuan

Authentically clad in a yukata, let’s enjoy some traditional snacks while exploring Kawagoe. The city is especially known for sweet potato, called imo in Japanese, so we’ll encounter both sweet and savory snacks that focus on the yummy treat.

An absolute must-try in Kawage are Koedo Osatsuan’s osatsu chips, crunchy sweet potato chips that will leave you craving for more! Just looking at the big yet thin slices will make your mouth water!

And once you’ve taken the first bite, there’s no stopping until everything is gone. They come in various flavors, with the standard one being salt for 350 yen per serving. Every other flavor costs 390 yen.

  • Koedo Osatsuan
    • Address 15-21 Saiwaichō, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken 350-0063, Japan
    • Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
      Closed: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
      Access: Bus stop “Ichibangai,” 5 minutes on foot

Kashou Umon and its Delicious Purple Sweet Potato Soft Serve

Kashou Umon and its Delicious Purple Sweet Potato Soft Serve

Few things are better than ice cream, be it summer or winter. Kashou Umon doesn’t just serve any kind of ice cream but, of course, integrates Kawagoe’s famous sweet potato – the purple version!

A lot of people swear that purple sweet potato is even more delicious than the regular one, with a subtle sweetness that is not too overwhelming while still being flavorful. We highly recommend getting a sweet potato-vanilla soft serve mix, for the ultimate combination of flavors!

Being served with a bright smile makes the ice cream so much tastier!

Next to soft serve, Kashou Umon offers all sorts of sweet potato specialties and many of them make excellent souvenirs. One cone of soft serve is available for 300 yen.

  • Kashou Umon
    菓匠右門 時の鐘店
    • Address 15-13 Saiwaichō, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken 350-0063, Japan
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
      Closed: always open
      Access: Bus stop “Ichibangai,” 5 minutes on foot

Try Kawagoe’s Famous Sweet Potato Cakes at Suisentei

Sweet potato rice cakes shaped like Japan’s famous onigiri is one of Kawagoe’s most popular snacks. Suisentei’s owner grows sweet potatoes himself but the problem is that they’re huge and thus hard to eat. So, he had the idea to cut them in the shape of onigiri rice balls! The delicious triangles are served without any added sugar or other flavors, so you get to enjoy the rich taste of sweet potato as authentically as possible.

The sweet potato cakes have a nice, firm texture and are of a gentle sweetness – knowing that the owner of the little shop grew each of them by himself makes them taste twice as good! Enjoy one cake for 180 yen, three for 500 yen, and six for 1,000 yen.

The owner is kind and fun, so if you can speak a little Japanese, don’t hesitate to talk to him!

  • Suisentei
    • Address First Avenue Tokyo , 1-9-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda,Tokyo 〒100-6701
    • Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
      Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays (or the following day if those days are a national holiday)
      Access: Bus stop “Ichibangai,” 5 minutes on foot

Ogagiku Serves Kawagoe’s Other Specialty: Eel!

Walking around in the atmospheric city of Kawagoe is a wonderful experience, but you’ll feel yourself getting tired after a while. The Japanese way to recharge your energies is by eating eel, Kawagoe’s other specialty!

Ogagiku is a long-established eel specialty shop that dates back to 1807! The current owner runs the restaurant in the seventh generation, so you’re in for a very traditional treat here. Equipped with table seats on both floors and even private rooms, kick back and enjoy one of the many classic eel dishes on Ogagiku’s extensive menu.

Our recommendation is the “unaju jo,” grilled eel that is served on rice in a lacquered box. “Jo” describes the size of the meal, large, with regular (“nami”) and extra-large (“toku”) also available. Regular costs 2,850 yen, large costs 3,400 yen, and extra-large costs 4,500 yen.

The restaurant uses only domestic eel of the highest quality – the flaky, juicy treat will melt on your tongue! We highly recommend seasoning the eel with a bit of Japanese pepper. That’ll give the classic meal a wonderful freshness.

  • Ogagiku
    • Address 3-22, Nakacho, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama, 350-0065, Japan
    • Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.; 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
      Closed: Thursdays, irregularly
      Access: Kawagoe Station, 20 minutes on foot

Make a Wish at Hikawa Shrine!

Hikawa Shrine is a famous marriage shrine with a stunning scenery. Since ancient times, the shrine has been known to boost fortune in relationships, marriage, and family, as it enshrines not one but two couples of deities. Between July and September every year, Hikawa Shrine holds a beautiful festival in which the entire shrine grounds are decorated with over 2,000 Japanese wind chimes. It doesn’t only look beautiful – the summer soundscape of Hikawa Shrine is just as amazing.

The wind chime festival makes for wonderful photos and memories!

Apart from wind chimes, the shrine offers many charms throughout the year.

Omikuji, fortune-telling papers are available as well. At Hiwaka Shrine, they come in the form of little fish.

Another shrine must-buy is omamori, or lucky charms. Hikawa Shrine has particularly cute designs, so why not enhance your fortune in love and relationships with a little souvenir from Japan?

  • Hikawa Shrine
    • Address 2-11-3 Miyashitamachi, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken 350-0052, Japan
    • Admission: free
      Closed: always open
      Access: take the Koedo Bus from Kawagoe Station and get off after 10 minutes at “Hikawa Jinjamae”

Savoring Nostalgic Sweets at Kashiya Yokocho

Savoring Nostalgic Sweets at Kashiya Yokocho

Off to Kashiya Yokocho! The street with the literal name “Candy Alley” is a nostalgic paradise filled with old-fashioned sweets shops. Not only hard candy and lollipops are available here, however. This scenic shopping street also offers lots of contemporary dessert creations that we urge you to try!

Just walking along the cobblestone road is a fun experience.
But also make sure to try your way through the various Japanese candy varieties!

  • Kashiya Yokocho
    • Address 2-Chome, Saiwaicho, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama, 350-0063, Japan
    • Hours and holidays vary by store.
      Access: Bus stop “Ichibangai,” 5 minutes on foot

Relax and Rest Your Feet at the Café Ashiyukisa Tsubakiya

Relax and Rest Your Feet at the Café Ashiyukisa Tsubakiya

Ashiyukisa Tsubakiya is a one-of-a-kind café that serves you amazing drink and dessert creations while you can relax your feet in an actual foot bath. Feel the water between your toes, sip on a cup of coffee, and gaze on the beautiful Japanese garden that sprawls out in front!

The café is actually behind a variety goods store called Tsubaki no Kura. Just enter the store regularly and proceed to the back!

With a Japanese yukata in a historic Japanese city, you’ll want to order Japanese sweets! We especially recommend anmitsu for 680 yen (tax excluded), a traditional dessert of sweet bean paste, fruits, and green tea ice cream or agar jelly. If you want to go full-out nostalgic, order a ramune (“lemonade,” 400 yen) along with the dessert and enjoy!

  • Tsubaki no Kura
    • Address 3-2, Saiwaicho, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama, 350-0063, Japan
    • Hours
      Weekdays: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
      Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
      Access: Bus stop “Ichibangai,” right in front

If you feel like venturing a bit further from Tokyo but still don’t want to spend the night, Kawagoe is an excellent place to visit for a day trip! Rich history and a uniquely Japanese atmosphere will make your visit unforgettable. The charm is Kawagoe is very likely to make you come back again! With every visit, there’s some snack you haven’t tried yet, a corner that you haven’t explored – we’ll see you in Kawagoe!

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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