Kawagoe is known as a little Edo and has the remains of Edo landscapes just a short one hour train ride from Tokyo. During the Edo era (17th to 19th centuries), Kawagoe had prospered as a port city with river networks to transport local products to Edo city. We can still see architectural resemblance of the Edo era in Kawagoe. Some of these places have become popular photogenic spots for visitors and here is a checklist for history buffs who love diving into the Edo historical places with stories to tell.
Kitain Temple with five hundred buddist monks (Gohyaku Rakan)
It is arguably the most photogenic temple in Kawagoe with literally over five hundred stone buddhist monk statues. Kitain Temple was built in 830 and Gohyaku Rakan buddhist monk statues were made from 1782 to 1825. This temple is now one of the most visited sites in Kawagoe. You can’t miss them in all of their various kinds of appearance with unique facial expressions and humorous gestures. Be sure to allow some time to ponder or perch yourself up for enjoying unique statues.
Another neighbour in this town of chic temples is Nakain Temple, which is said to have been located here since 810. In the early Autumn season, the ground is carpeted with orange fragrant olives (Kinmokusei) petals and surrounded by the gentle and sweet scents of Kinmokusei. There really is enough inside to keep you busy all day, but allow half an hour to run over the highlights.
Kawagoe Town House
One of the best neighbourhoods to wander around is the Kawagoe Kurazukuri Street from Honkawagoe Station to Shingashi River. This neighborhood is full of great warehouse style shops and cafes. Although locals regard it as “touristy”, there’s no denying this is the most picturesque part of town.
Toki no Kane Bell Tower
Toki no Kane Bell Tower has become a major symbol of Kawagoe thanks to its central location and unique history. Although the first bell tower was destroyed by fire, it was reconstructed in the 19th century, restoring the atmosphere of the old days.
The best sweet potato town
Sweet potatoes have been popular since the Edo era due to their easy cultivation and sweet tastes. Kawagoe has become one of the biggest sweet potato producing suburbs near Edo city. One of the advantages of Kawagoe is that the waterway is connected to Edo city with high transport capacity. The area is filled with local sweet potato shops, patisseries, bakeries, ice creameries and dessert havens.
Unagi: freshwater eels
As Kawagoe is a city surrounded by rivers, it should come as no surprise that people have started to eat Unagi eels since the Edo period. Not only is this a great base to have unagi eels, but it is also the hometown of soy source brewers. It is natural to combine the two great ingredients as Unagi rice bowl.