Exploring Japan Urban Ideas and Travel Tips

Retracing History in Kawagoe

I first heard of Kawagoe from my Czech friend a long time ago when she asked me to go with her to visit the place. However at that time I got busy with work stuff so I did not go with her. After four years or so, I again heard the word Kawagoe. This time I hear and see it often since my train going to my workplace is exactly the same line that goes there. Maybe I am destined to see this place somehow…

Come Golden Week, my husband and I took the train going to Iidabashi and from there we went to Kawagoe via Yurakucho Line which continues as Tobu Tojo Line until Kawagoeshi station. The whole travel took us around an hour and a half. When we reached Kawagoe station, we bought a day-pass bus ticket so that we can go around the town easily. It was a bit easy to find which bus to take because of the signages along the way.

Our first stop was Kitain Temple, a famous Buddhist temple known for the 540 statues of Buddha disciples and for its main hall which was part of the original Edo Castle. We were surprised that although it was Golden Week, the place has very few visitors and at that time we were the only gaijins (foreigners) in the area. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the temple but seeing the original remnants of the Edo period gave me a feel of how life was during the early period.

The main hall of Kitain Temple
Wooden pathway going to the Main Hall from the Exhibition Hall of Kitain Temple
The inner garden of Kitain Temple
A few of Kitain Temple’s 500 Statues of Buddha Disciples

After Kitain Temple, we decided to walk to Honmaru Goten, the oldest building in Kawagoe which used to serve as the lord’s residence and offices during 1450s. On our way, we made a brief stop at Naritasan Betsuin Temple where we got fascinated with the colorful Buddhas mounted on marble stones.

The facade of Naritasan Temple
Colored Buddhas mounted on marble stones inside Naritasan Temple
Honamru Goten from the outside
The inner garden of Honmaru Goten
This is how feudal lords meet during Edo Period inside Honmaru Goten

We continued walking going to Kurazukuri Zone or the Old Storehouse Zone with another quick stop at the restored Naka no mori bori Moat, a fragment of the original castle wall. Walking around the cobble-stoned streets of Kurazukuri is like a time travel. The vibrant environment of people selling sweets and other goods; women in kimonos; traditional crafts; and  old structures brought us back to Edo period.

The restored fragment of the Kawagoe Castle Wall
The old storehouses turned craft and food stores in Karazukiri Zone
The famous sweet potato sweets of Kawagoe


Kawagoe’s Bell Tower
A scene from the inner cobble-stoned streets

And before we headed back home, it was a must that we try the sweets from the place 🙂

Sugar candies bento boxes
A must have from Kawagoe: sweet made from rice and brown sugar formed like a shotgun

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