Imagine cobbled streets, 1,500-year-old shrines and traditional culture evoking memories of a time that has long since passed—this is Kawagoe, a small town suspended in time.
Dating back to the Edo period of 1603-1867, this “Little Edo” is tucked away in Saitama Prefecture, under an hour north of Tokyo. Historically a bustling commercial supply town, Kawagoe thrived throughout the Edo and Meiji periods. These days it’s an enchanting piece of living history, filled with charm.
Kawagoe has a lot to offer, so let’s look at six truly magical spots that’ll give you a taste of Japan’s old days.
1. Kura No Machi
A stroll down the main street of "Kura no Machi" (蔵の町) will have you lost in a time warp. The buildings on either side of the street selling sweet rice dumplings and ice cream have seen more days than you.
In 1893, a fire destroyed a substantial part of the city resulting in the reconstruction of several buildings using layers of clay, called “Kura.” This architectural technique shaped the beautiful old buildings you see today.
You’ll find various souvenir stores selling kitsune (fox) masks, chopsticks, beautifully-crafted ceramics, and handkerchiefs. Take your time exploring the intricacies within each shop, or take a rickshaw for the full Edo experience.
A visit to Kawagoe is also well-known for being a great excuse to wear a yukata or kimono, whatever the occasion. The town plays well into its reputation, with rental shops lining the streets ready to help you pick out your best color for your stroll through its time-honored streets.
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