Having covered most of Tokyo already, we were thinking of going to somewhere new during the last trip. We’ve experienced modern day Tokyo — maybe it’s time to have a look at its past.
Reachable within a half an hour train ride from Tokyo, Kawagoe was formerly a castle town and once a lively business district in the 17th century. In the old city stood beautiful and historic buildings showcasing architecture from the Edo Period, which managed to survive the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and are currently well-preserved. Today, people visit the city of Kawagoe to get a glimpse of Edo’s past.
They say if you want to see a piece of ancient Japan, go to Kyoto. But if you don’t mind going somewhere at a smaller scale, well, go to Kawagoe.
Armed with a map of the city, we hopped on the Koedo loop bus and stopped at what we thought was the main attraction — the Warehouse Dristrict. Kurazukuri Street hosts a number of old warehouses and commercial shoplots selling different kinds of Japanese goods – from handmade pottery, paintings, screens and Japanese food and confectioneries. Great place to shop for real Japanese goods!
With the help of Reza (who became her official shopping PA), my mom got a beautifully handmade tray from a very chatty lady at a wooden crafts shop.
The street was well kept and clean. Especially loved the buildings – they reminded me of Age of Empires!
It was almost lunchtime and we were trying to look for a place to eat. I was already grumpy by then. According to the map, there were several udon and sushi restaurants nearby, but eek! Since it was the end of the year, most of the restaurants were closed at the time — they were taking a week’s worth of holiday!
Found a restaurant that’s open. Phew.
The small restaurant which was open seemed like it’s had a very long history. Pictures of celebrities (including AKB48) and hosts of tv local tv shows endorsing the restaurant was hung on top of the cashier. Must have been quite a reputable place.
I wasn’t familiar with the dishes served at the restaurant. Reza said they were serving more authentic Japanese dishes than most shops. I had a bowl of sōmen (he said this one was okay for me to consume), which came with six pieces of dango. They tasted different than what I’m used to… but it’s something!
If you’re visiting Tokyo and wish to get a glimpse of ancient Japan, an excursion to Kawagoe would be a good idea. Though we only went to the main street, the Koedo loop bus actually stops at several attractions – from museums, shrines, to other famous streets that are there – so there’s a lot more to see. Great location for budding photographers, too. I’m guessing it’ll take you more than half a day if you intend to discover the place properly.
To learn more about Kawagoe and to learn how to get there, visit its official site.