When visiting Japan, many people will think to visit Tokyo as their top destination, but in this article, we’ll introduce to you a place just outside Tokyo in the Northern prefecture of Saitama – Kawagoe(川越).
Kawagoe was well known as a castle town during the Edo era, and we will introduce the best historic spots for you to discover.
Kita-in(喜多院) is also known as Kawagoe-Daishi(川越大師) and is one of the much loved areas in Kawagoe, known for “Hatsumoude” (temple visits during the new year) and Daruma-ichi (a festival with many Daruma, hollow, round, Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen tradition of Buddhism).
Kitain, located in Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture, was originally part of the temple of the Tendai sect, in Japan’s history. It’s no wonder therefore that there are many valuable and revered works of art and historical sites. It’s estimated that around 400,000 people from around Kanto come to visit during the new year “Hatsumoude(初詣)”. There are numerous other festivals also held in Kitain, such as Setsubun, Daruma-shi, Shichi-go-san (a coming of age festival for children) and the chrysanthemum festival. In April, there are many famous cherry blossom viewing spots, as well as the autumn leaves later during the year from mid-November to December, so the place is always bustling with visitors!
Address: 1 Chome-20-1 Kosenbamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture 350-0036
2) Historic Village(蔵造りの町並み)
The historic street buildings (Kuratzukuri no Machinami) are a historic remainder from the Edo era streets and remain to this day, looking very much similar to how it did all of those years ago. Visitors will be captivated by the historic atmosphere as you can feel a sense of time travel back to the Edo era(1603-1868).
The buildings in this area were built in such a way in order to prevent fires spreading, and show a building style typical of the Edo era(1603-1868).
During the great Kanto earthquake of 1923, many of the old buildings in Tokyo were destroyed, and therefore the surviving old buildings in Kawagoe became an important historical treasure, as a reminder of the old Edo-era landscape. In recent years, new buildings have been constructed to adapt to and preserve the historical landscape, and is now a shining example of harmony between the modern and the traditional.
Address: 5 Saiwaichō, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken 350-1100
3) Confectioner’s alley(菓子屋横丁)
Confectioner’s alley (Kashiya no Yokocho) features around 20 shops selling a multitude of sweet treats, from candies to dumplings, where there are many treats you can pick up and enjoy whilst strolling around the town.
Kashiya no Yokocho prospered as a gateway to Yojuin, a temple in Kawagoe in the later 19th century and started to become a famous area for the manufacturing of confectionary for public consumption. There is a stone cobbled street of just over 100 metres which all adds to the heart and charm of this town.
Historic Village(蔵造りの町並み)Address: 2 Chome-9-19 Motomachi, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken 350-0062
- From Tobu Tojo Line Kawagoe Station Bus (Tobu Bus towards Shinmei-cho Garage) or 3 minutes on foot from "Fuda no Tsuji"
- Tobu Tojo Line Kawagoe Station bus towards Koedo and alight at “Kashiya no Yokocho”
- Tobu Tojo Line: Get off at Kawagoe Station and take the Koboji-cho Tour Bus to "Fuda no Tsuji", and access Kashiya no Yokocho by a 3 min walk
4) Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine(川越氷川神社)
Hikawa shrine is said to house the God of marriage, and is believed to bring love together, and sustain it, and is therefore a popular choice for wedding ceremonies. There are also various season-based festivals held here throughout the year, and is a popular venue to enjoy the four seasons.
Kawagoe Hikawa shrine was build around 1,500 years ago. Since Kawagoe castle was newly built, this shrine was worshipped as a castle guardian by the successive castle owners through the ages. It is also said to house a god that brings forth prosperity, and holds the destiny of the people around it. The Cherry blossoms on the river bank behind the shrine are also a sight to behold.
Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine(川越氷川神社)
Address: 2 Chome-11-3 Miyashitamachi, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken 350-0052
We have introduced some of the famous landmarks of Kawagoe, but there are many other hidden gems in Kawagoe just waiting to discovered! We are sure you will be captivated by the historical atmosphere and charm from Kawagoe, so why not see it for yourself?
Photos has taken by Kota Wada