Half-Day Trip to Kawagoe
Kawagoe, which is located 40 kilometers north-west from Tokyo (only less than a 30 minute train ride), has long been called Little Edo for its resemblance with Edo (the old name for Tokyo). Although many of the old buildings that made this city famous have burned, there still are a couple of them that attract a large number of Japanese tourists during the weekends.
Certainly, Kawagoe is not as attractive as Nikko or Kamakura, but it still makes an worth while half-day or even day-trip from Tokyo, as all its interesting spots are within walking distance from the train station. Pictures below were taken near the Kawagoe train station.
The famous Kurazukuri street hosts a large number of the 30 storehouses still present in Kawagoe. In the 19th century, more than 300 of similar houses were found in Kawagoe. This typical architecture was chosen because it was supposed to be extremely resistant toward fire. Kawagoe, like Edo, was prone to such disasters, and many of these tick clay-walled fire-resistant houses were built after the Great Fire that destroyed a large part of the town in 1894.
Nearby, the 16 meter Toki no Kane (Time Bell Tower) clock tower is a symbol of Kawagoe dating back to the beginning of the Edo Period. First built about 400 years ago, the current clock tower is the 4th generation and was rebuilt in 1893 after the Kawagoe Great Fire. As time passed, the method of ringing the bell has changed from manual to mechanical. In 1996, the beautiful tone of the bell was recognized as one of the "100 Sound Sceneries of Japan" that should be preserved by the Ministry of the Environment. The bell rings four times a day at 6 am, noon, 3 pm and 6 pm.
Kashiya Yokocho (Penny Candy Alley) is a stone-paved alley or street embedded with colorful glass, lined with 22 traditional style Japanese candy shops.
There are several temples in the area and Kitain Temple is the head of Tendai Sect (one of the two most important Buddhist sects) in the Kanto area.
You will find 538 stone statues arranged in one part of Kitian called Rakan, which translated literally means 500 disciples of Buddha. The statues have a variety of postures and express several human emotions.
Finally, Kawagoe is famous for its eel and sweet potatoes, so we had lunch at a popular restaurant for unagi-don and bought some sweet potato chips at Kashiya Yokocho.