Kawagoe 川越

Kawagoe may not seem off the beaten track. Geographically it’s not. From Ikebukuro it’s only about 30 minutes away and might look like an extension of Tokyo’s urban sprawl. But Kawagoe is colloquially known as “Little Edo” (小江戸). Several city blocks and other clusters of buildings have been preserved since the Edo (1603-1867) and Meiji (1868-1912) eras.

Among the town’s more famous architecture is a 16-meter bell tower that rings three times a day. It has been telling time for town residents for over 300 years and is a symbol of the city. Confectionery Row is a quaint alley with a dozen or so vendors selling cheap sweets and other snacks. Kurazukuri (warehouse) Street, the main thoroughfare, is lined with shops selling anything from souvenirs and tourist kitsch to more elegant items. Kawagoe’s local product is the sweet potato, and related edibles are available in abundance, including chips and ice cream. The local brewery, Coedo, even makes a sweet-potato beer—yes, it’s drinkable.

While in the town, don’t forget to visit Kita-in. The expansive temple grounds house 500 Rakan (羅漢) statues. During New Year’s celebrations, crowds will line up sometimes for hours. The float festival held for two days in October is also a colorful time to visit Kawagoe.

Budget travelers may want to consider staying in the Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro for convenience. After Kawagoe, kick back in their new restaurant, which serves 60 beers from around the world!





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