Known as “Little Edo”, Kawagoe was both a strategic post in the Kanto region and a key trading point for merchants during the Edo period (1603-1868). Today the main attraction is the line of well-preserved warehouses (kurazukuri) which were used by merchants to store their goods and wares. It is thought that at one point Kawagoe was home to over 200 of these structures and, although a fire in 1893 claimed one third of the town, many survive today (some have stood for over 200 years).
Check out the Tourist Association’s guide map here (PDF download).
How to Get There?
The Tobu Tojo Line from Ikebukuro takes you directly to Kawagoe Station (approximately 30 minutes). The warehouse district is a 20-minute walk from the station. There are two buses that link Kawagoe Station and main sightseeing spots: the Koedo Famous Locations Loop Bus and the Co-edo Loop Bus.
Toki no Kane Bell Tower
Directions. Towards the north end of the street in a side street to the right. Close to the Museum of Kurazukuri. Google Maps
Museum of Kurazukuri
Housed in one of the warehouses, this small museum displays the tools used by the merchants and provides a glimpse into life in Kawagoe during the Edo period. Limited amount to see inside, but worth stopping in at as you wander down the street.
- Directions. 7-9 Saiwaicho, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0063 | At the northern end of the main street on the left. Google Maps
- Hours. 9:00-17:00
- Admission. FREE
Directions. Take the first road on your left after the Museum of Kurazukuri. Google Maps
Honmaru Goten of Kawagoe Castle
During the Edo period Kawagoe was viewed by the Tokugawa shogunate as a key strategic town for the defense of Edo (now Tokyo) and a key point of trade. Honmaru-goten (“Inner Circle Palace”) is the only surviving structure of Kawagoe Castle. It contains tatami rooms, a small garden, and period-dressed mannequins playing the role of a feudal lord and his subjects.
- Directions. 2-13-1 Kuruwa-machi, Kawagoe, Saitama | 15 minutes east of the main street. Google Maps
- Hours. 9:00-17:00. Closed on Mondays unless it is a public holiday, in which case it is open on Monday and closed on Tuesday
- Admission. Adults ¥100 | Students ¥50 | Children can enter for free
Following a fire in 1638 the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu, ordered several structures from Edo Castle to be moved to Kitain to help rebuild the temple. As the buildings that remained in Edo Castle were subsequently destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 or in the air raids of World War II, these are the only original structures of Edo Castle that survive today. Kitain Temple is also famous for its 538 statues of the Rakan, disciples of the Buddha, as well as for being the head temple of the Tendai Sect in the Kanto Region.
Directions. 1-20-1 Kosemba-machi, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0036 | 10 minutes south-east of the main street. Google Maps