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Explore Kawagoe: Day Trip From Tokyo To “Little Edo”

Flowers hanging upside down in front of a temple in Kawagoe, Japan

At just over an hour from central Tokyo, Kawagoe is one of the best day trips from Japan’s Capital. This small city will transport you to an idyllic few hours imagining Edo Period Japan as you walk past traditional architecture and visit historical religious sites.


How To Get There


From Shibuya Station, it takes roughly 1.25 hours by train and a brief bus ride to reach the main town area of Kawagoe.


The main train stations in the area that you should aim for are Kawagoe Station and Kawagoeshi Station (the former is larger). From either of the stations, take a bus for about 10 minutes to the center of town (put “Toki no Kane” as the target address in Google Maps if you don’t have a specific destination in mind).


A one-way trip to the center of Kawagoe will cost just under ¥1,000 for an adult.


What To Do


Most of the destinations below are within a 10-20 minute walk of each other. For the landmarks, visit them in the order listed to follow a wide loop of the city.


Toki no Kane

Toki no Kane in Kawagoe

The Edo Period style streets lined with restaurants and shops are the main charm of Kawagoe. At the center of this quaint area lies Toki no Kane, a wooden bell tower that chimes daily at 6AM, noon, 3PM, and 6PM.


The original bell tower was constructed 400 years ago during the Edo Period, but the current tower is a reconstruction from the late 19th century (the original burned down in a fire).


Toki no Kane is a long-standing symbol of the town and is a great place to start your exploration of Kawagoe.


Many stores and cafes surround Toki no Kane.


Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine

Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine

The original 6th-century Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine enshrined five deities. Two pairs of the deities were married couples, so people prayed at the shrine for matrimonial good fortune.

Today, the shrine still attracts lovers and romantics praying for luck in love.


Tunnel of Ema in Kawagoe

Tunnel of Ema

Ema are wooden plaques on which people write prayers and wishes. Usually Ema hang from a small wall at temples, but, unusually, at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine they hang along a long tunnel.


Kawagoe Castle Honmaru Palace

Kawagoe Castle Honmaru Palace

Kawagoe Castle Honmaru Palace is the only remaining building of the 15th-century castle complex. During the Edo Period, many lords resided in Kawagoe Castle.


The structure seen today, Honmaru Palace, was added in the mid-19th century and has tatami rooms, a Japanese garden, and cultural artifacts for visitors to admire.


Remains of Fujimi Turret of Kawagoe Castle

Remains of Fujimi Turret of Kawagoe Castle

Tucked by a quiet hillside above Kawagoe Castle lies a few shrines and the Remains of Fujimi Turret of Kawagoe Castle. The remains of the old castle turrets are a bit underwhelming and difficult to see, but the small shrines up the stairs from the remains are lovely.


Kawagoe Kita-in Temple

Kawagoe Kita-in Temple

The Kawagoe Kita-in Temple grounds are a wide complex in the center of the city featuring the only remaining palace buildings of the former Edo Castle, a pagoda, main hall, and Gohyaku Rakan (statues of Buddha’s disciples).

Kawagoe Kita-in Temple

Kita-in Temple was originally constructed in 830 but was rebuilt several times over the centuries due to fire and earthquakes. You can either walk around the temple complex for free, or pay ¥400 to enter the main hall and see the Gohyaku Rakan garden.


Kawagoe Kumano Shrine

Bamboo leaves and lanterns in front of Kawagoe Kumano Shrine

Kawagoe Kumano Shrine is dedicated to deities of good luck and marriage. At the entrance of the shrine, rows of stones flank the path. You can walk barefoot on the stones to stimulate acupuncture points.


Kawagoe Kumano Shrine acupressure stones

Acupressure stones along the entrance path


The main shrine area often has paper adornments reflecting the shrine’s theme of love and matchmaking. These decorations add to the shrine’s quaint atmosphere.


Kawagoe Kumano Shrine

In addition to the paper decorations and acupressure stones, Kawagoe Kumano Shrine offers other interesting activities. For example, you can literally launder money in a small pond at the shrine. Because Zeniarai Benzaiten (銭洗弁財天) is one of the deities enshrined here, legend has it that if you wash and purify some money at the shrine, you will attract more money!


Browse boutique shops


Kawagoe’s central town area has dozens of unique boutique stores. The main street is called Kura no Machi Ichibangai.

There are a particularly high number of homeware and ceramic stores in the area, so you’ll likely find plenty of treasures for your home.


ALPHALPHA storefront in Kawagoe with ceramics on display

ALPHALPHA

📍〒350-0063 Saitama, Kawagoe, Saiwaicho, 6−8

ALPHALPHA has a beautiful selection of ceramic kitchenware to peruse. Most of the pieces are made in Japan and have an earthen color tone and feel. Most items are priced between ¥1,500 – ¥6,000.


Japanese knives on display

Miyaoka’s Knives

📍〒350-0063 Saitama, Kawagoe, Saiwaicho, 7−3

If you’re looking to invest in high quality Japanese knives, check out the displays at Miyaoka’s Knives. The shop carries knives of varying sizes and intended usages.


Ceramics on display at Fine china store YAMAWA

Fine china store YAMAWA

📍〒350-0063 Saitama, Kawagoe, Saiwaicho, 7−1

This elegant pottery store features handcrafted mugs, plates, bowls, and other crockery pieces. Browse the exquisite ceramics and pick up a few special items for your home. The shop connects to Cafe TOROCCO, a traditional Japanese kaiseki and desserts cafe.


Edo Period architecture

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