Are your clients’ looking for a quick trip to see a hidden side of Japan? Suggest Kawagoe, around 30 minutes direct train trip from Tokyo Ikebukuro, it is a destination to immerse oneself into the true history of Japan. Kawagoe is most famous for its many traditional buildings, which have earned it the nickname Koedo (literally “Little Edo”).
Kawagoe’s streets have been maintained since Japan’s historic Edo period (1603-1867) and the Warehouse District on Kurazukuri Street is lined with old earthen storehouses, unique two-storey buildings from the time the city flourished as a major transportation and commerce hub. A sight not to be missed here is the Bell of Time (Toki no Kane in Japanese). This bell tower has marked the time for centuries and continues to ring four times daily.
Kawagoe has many other things to see, including Candy Alley, a street lined with stores where traditional Japanese candies are made the old-fashioned way.
Additionally, there are several beautiful temples and shrines in Kawagoe worth visiting, most notably Kitain Temple, which was built about 1,200 years ago. The most outstanding feature of the temple is its more than 500 rakan, or statues of Buddha. The statues were commissioned from various artists during the Edo period and each artist gave the Buddha a slightly different expression. No two statues look exactly alike, and according to popular belief, there is a statue that resembles anyone who visits the temple.
Kawagoe also introduces visitors to the relatively recent history of Japan as well. Taisho-Roman Street is lined with old, retro western-style buildings from the Taisho and Showa eras. This street has been used for shooting many of the Japanese period films set in these eras.
The easiest way to get to Kawagoe and travel around the area is on the Tobu Railway Kawagoe Discount Pass, which offers a discount for the round-trip train fare on Tobu Tojo Line from Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo to Kawagoe Station or Kawagoeshi Station, as well as fantastic benefits at co-operating stores in Kawagoe city.
For more information, go to tobu.co.jp/en/ticket/kawagoe/premium.html.