Region: Kanto
Prefecture: Saitama
Surface area:109,13 Km2
Population: 352,901
Area code: (0) 49
The city of Kawagoe in Japan, affectionately nicknamed “Little Edo,” (the old name for Tokyo) due to the presence of so many historic buildings, is situated just thirty kilometres from Tokyo.
Thanks to its wealth of artistic heritage, Kawagoe is, for the prefecture of Saitama, what Kamakura is for the prefecture of Kanagawa and what Nikko is for the prefecture of Tochigi.

What to see in Kawagoe

One of the most important places to visit is the Kitain Temple, the most significant in the whole region of Kanto for the Tendai sect.
It was erected in 830 A.D., and gained its significance as an important temple under the auspices of the monk Tenkai during the seventeenth century.
The name, which means “the northern temple,” is due to the fact that there is also a “middle temple” known as naka-in, and a “southern temple” known as minami-in, of which nothing remains.
When the temple was destroyed by a fire in 1638, the shogun decreed that the pavilions or hallways at the Castle of Edo should be dismantled and then rebuilt inside the temple.
Because those that were part of the palace at Edo (Tokyo) were destroyed during the second world war, those at Kawagoe are the only ones that remain from the ancient seat of power of the shogun, Tokugawa.
Inside the temple it is really worth seeing the gohyaku rakan, these are 500 statues known as the arhat, representing 540 Buddhist disciples, each with a different facial expression to the others.
Kurazukuri no machi nami, (Kurazukuri street) is the area of the city where you can see a range of traditional warehouses and this is one of the principal attractions in the city of Kawagoe.
There are some thirty of these old buildings remaining.

Kawagoe was an important commercial centre and you can see here typical ancient warehouses and depots, built out of clay in order to offer some protection against fire along with the double doors which were built to deter thieves.
What is today a museum, the Kura Zukuri Shiryokan, was once a warehouse belonging to a tobacco merchant.
The wooden clock-tower, Toki no kane, which is easily visible close to the original warehouses, was also used to keep the area under control and, above all, as an alarm system in the event of fire.
Not far away is the Kashiya Yokocho, a street that is famous for housing numerous businesses that specialise in making traditional desserts that you can sample in these old buildings which give off an aura of times gone by.
Another attraction worth visiting is the Honmaru Goten, which means “the innermost circle,” and is the only part remaining of the old feudal castle of Kawagoe.
A large part of the building was rebuilt in 1848 but it has only recently been newly restored and opened to the public.

It is made up of large rooms with tatami (Japanese floor mats) and a sizeable garden.
There are paintings exhibited inside the building and you can sit down amongst life-sized dummies that are dressed from the Edo period, as if you were participating in a meeting of the leaders from that period of history.

The history of Kawagoe

The commercial importance of Kawagoe is in many ways due to the nearby presence of three rivers: the Arakawa, the Shingashi and the Tama.

Of these, the Shingashi was used for river transport to and from the capital of Edo.
The Kawagoe area was also strategically important and was entrusted to the Tokugawa by Hideyoshi after the latter had defeated the Hojo clan and formed the district of Kawagoe, of which the city was the capital.
The city still retained its importance under the Tokugawa who subsequently entrusted it to their vassal, Salai Shigetada, and then to the Matsudaira family.
The city as it is today is very much a result of the fusion of numerous smaller urban centres.


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[ Dec.2013 ] We visited Kawagoe Festival Museum in Kawagoe in Saitama prefecture in Japan. I did not know at all, but this is a spectacular festival held at the third weekend in every October…


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[ Dec.2013 ] On the day we had a excursion to Kawagoe in Japan, we only ate potatoes there. Kawagoe is famous for its potatoes. First, we tried baked sweet potato cut in triangle like…