Tokyo and Kyoto have so many sightseeing spots, but it costs a lot and takes time to go both of them.
If you visit Kawagoe which is about one hour away from Tokyo by train, you can feel Japanese traditional culture without traveling to Kyoto.
Please consult this article and make your Kawagoe trip even more enjoyable!
Hikawa Shrine is famous for a god of match-making so that there is very popular as a spiritual energy place among young women. This shrine is about 1500 years old.
To get an advice from a god, you should draw a fortune. There are two types of fortunes in Hikawa Shrine. The pink snapper fortune is called ‘ai tai mikuji’ which means encounter lottery and the red one is called ‘ichinen antai mikuji’ which means one-year safety lottery.
They are 300 yen for each. When you drew these lotteries, you need to fishing with small fishing rod. It’s unique experience so it will become good memory for you. Also, you can buy many kinds of lovely charm too.
If you want a wonderful encounter, you must visit Hikawa shrine once.
- Take a Seibu bus bound for ‘Saitamaidai’ or ‘Ageoeki nishiguchi’ from Kawagoe station (JR line/ Tobu tojo line) or Honkawagoe station (Seibu Shinjuku line) and get off at ‘Miyashitamachi’. It takes about 10 minutes.
- Ai tai mikuji 300yen
The name of this pink lottery is a pun for ‘aitai’ which means want to meet in English and ‘tai’ means red snapper.
- Ichinen antai mikuji 300yen
Ichinen antai means one-year of safety in English and that is also a pun. If you are not interested in encounter, you should try fishing red one.
There are 22 penny candy stores in Kashiya Yokocho.
Penny candies are called dagashi in Japanese and they are loved by everyone from children to adults. Walking this street makes me feel as if I was a child.
There are too many dagashi to choose! Also there are stores of sweet potato’s sweets, because Kawagoe is famous for sweet potatoes. Most of the store stuff there is grandparents and they are very gentle. Dagashi is really cheap so that you should try many of them. There are lots of flavor that you can only buy in Japan. Because of that, it is good for souvenir too.
The following two candies are my favorite and very popular, so please try them if you don’t know what to buy.
- Soybean candy 300yen
This is chewy candy stick with Kinako which is roasted soybean flour. Kinako flavor is very popular in Japan since a very long time ago. It tastes better if you heat it up in the microwave about 10 seconds.
- Fruit candy 350yen
These are fruit candies, but they are attached with strings. When you eat this, you choose from among many strings and you are lucky if you get a big candy. So, this is good for party or events to make it more exited.
Kawagoe’s Kitain Temple is over 1200 years old. This temple is deeply related with Tokugawa family and most of the buildings are national important cultural properties.
A Buddhist temple of the Tendai Sect was divided into three parts; Kitain, Nakain, Minamiin and Kitain became the main temple of the three.
The highlight of a visit to Kitain is the Gohyaku Rakan statues which was built in 1825. There are about 540 statues and each of them has different facial expressions. Some are laughing and others are crying. They are located in a small separate courtyard on the temple grounds.
Tradition says that when you pat a statue’s head secretly at midnight, only one of them is warm and that statue’s face is similar to your dead parents.
- Kawagoe station (JR line/Tobu tojo line) 20 minutes walk
- Honkawagoe station (Seibu shinjuku line) 15 minutes walk
It is said that the Time Bell Tower was built around the era when Sakai Tadakatsu was the feudal lord of Kawagoe Castle. It burned down numerous times and the current Time Bell Tower at approximately 16 meters in height was rebuilt in the following year of Kawagoe Great Fire in 1893. In 1996, the beautiful tone of the bell was recognized as one of the 100 Sound Sceneries of Japan that should preserved forever by the Ministry of Environment.
This symbol of Kawagoe still telling time now at 6 a.m./12p.m./3 p.m./6 p.m. The sound of the bell is always different by the color of the sky or street scene and that makes you feel atmosphere of Ko-edo, Kawagoe.
- Take a Tobu bus bound for ‘Sinmeicho syako’ from Kawagoe station (JR line/ Tobu tojo line) and get off at ‘Ichibangai’.
- Take a Ko-edo junkai bus from Honkawagoe station (Seibu Shinjuku line) and get off at ‘Kuranomachi’.
- It takes about 20 minutes if you walk from Kawagoe station.
Kurazukuri, warehouse style is still remain in Kawagoe. Kurazukuri is a complex building using fireproof materials to avoid catching fire from another building and it developd as a townhouse style of the Edo period.
These warehouses still retains there character from during the Edo period, which we don’t see nowadays in Tokyo. It was chosen in 1999 as the Nation’s Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings, and in 2007 as one of the 100 Most Beautiful Japanese Historical Landscapes.
The main street has many shops like a chopsticks shop, an accessory shop and even a knife shop, so you can also enjoy shopping while eating ice cream!
- Take a Tobu bus bound for ‘Sinmeicho syako’ from Kawagoe station (JR line/ Tobu tojo line) or Honkawagoe station (Seibu Shinjuku line) and get off at ‘Ichibangai’.
These 5 spots are very traditional Japanese culture and you can learn the history of Japan by visiting them. Also, there are more interesting shops and buildings so that you can enjoy the Kawagoe trip all day long.
Furthermore you don’t need to go Kyoto and you can save money too. Next time, I will introduce popular food in Kawagoe, so don’t miss it!