Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kawagoe, "Little Tokyo" Near Tokyo?

What?  There's a "Little Tokyo" near Tokyo?!  Well, actually, there's a "Little Edo" in Kawagoe, which is a suburb of Tokyo.  Edo was the original name before the city became Tokyo, so technically, it is "Little Tokyo" near Tokyo.

Kawagoe is a little town full of traditional Edo Period (1603-1867) architecture in the Kurazukuri Zone. Most of the Japanese clay-walled warehouse buildings are now stores catering to every tourist's dream of traditional Japanese souvenirs, foods, and crafts.  Besides its throwback era charm, this town's claim to fame is the Kitain Temple, the old bell tower that still chimes 3 times a day, and for some reason, a variety of treats made from sweet potatoes.  Hmmmm.

It is quite the tourist trap, and recently, Seibu Shinjuku train line added a reserved seat Limited Express train line from Shinjuku or Takadanonaba to Honkawagoe Station.  For an extra ¥410/pp, this cuts the transit time from 70 minutes on a local train down to 20 minutes.  Totally worth it in our opinion.  

If you find yourself needing to kill about half a day in Tokyo, head to the outskirts of Tokyo and wander around the "Little Edo" streets of Kawagoe!  It's quite charming.

Here are some photos...

Nice tourist map.

Store selling Japanese knives.  Reflection of colorful umbrellas from store across street. 
Outdoor glass artwork that lights up at night. 
European architecture next to traditional Japanese buildings. 
Icon of Kawagoe, the bell tower. 

Check out the size of these chrysanthemums!

Rice cracker store. 
Soft chewy rice crackers on a stick with various flavorings. 

Many snacks made from sweet potatoes in Kawagoe. 
Riding the limited express train back to Takadanobaba Station (near Shinjuku)