One of the amazing takeaways from this trip was to visit Kawagoe City, also known as “Ko-Edo” which lies in the Saitama Prefecture of Japan. This city very much managed to preserve the Edo-period ambiance and is not too far from Tokyo. Make sure to add this city into your itinerary for at least half a day to experience a part of Japan’s rich culture and history!
Kurazukuri, also known as Warehouse District Street is perhaps the most iconic street of Kawagoe. It was such a joy walking along the street of unfamiliar low-rise architectures which were pretty well preserved, dated over a century back.
After grabbing a sushi lunch at one of the restaurant recommended by a friend, we continued to walk down the lane till we reached Kashiya Yokocho, where it was popular with candies, desserts and gift shops. Without hesitating, we tried the purple sweet potato soft serve, warabi mochi as some grilled sweet potato slices drizzled with honey. The sweet potato was not recommended though as it was hard and unsatisfying.
Off the main street lies the bell tower which is a popular landmark of Kawagoe. At first, I was basically wondering why my friend would want to take picture with an old structure without knowing the story behind it.
The “toki no kane” (Time Bell Tower) was built around the era when Sakai Tadakatsu was the feudal lord of Kawagoe Castle (1627 – 1634). It was burnt down numerous times and the current one, standing at 16 meters high was rebuilt in 1893. In 1996, its beautiful tone was recognized and since made to be preserved forever by the Ministry of Environment.
Besides the time bell tower, there were also countless shrines and temples which I had visited while exploring Kawagoe City. I even spotted a Zen looking Starbucks outlet to grab a cup of my favorite seasonal black sesame frappe which was only available in Japan!