Koedo Kawagoe 小江戸川越
Popular Edo-period townscape close to Tokyo
Kawagoe isn't far from Tokyo , but it feels like a totally different world. Koedo, which means "Little Edo," is a great place to experience Japan circa 1603 to 1867. Its old wooden warehouses, classic bell tower, old-fashioned candy shops, castle and temple offer a glimpse of what life was like several centuries ago when the area prospered as a transportation and commerce hub.
- Koedo Kawagoe's old warehouse district with its huge wooden buildings
- Kitain Temple with its 500 distinctly different Buddha statues
- The traditional shops and delicacies of Kawagoe's Candy Street
How to Get There
Kawagoe is just 45 minutes from central Tokyo in northwestern Saitama Prefecture.
The easiest way to reach Kawagoe by train is to take the Seibu Shinjuku Express from Seibu Shinjuku Station to Hon-Kawagoe Station. The express takes about 45 minutes. Seibu Shinjuku Station is a five-minute walk from Shinjuku Station's east exit.
Travel through time
Koedo Kawagoe gives you a chance to experience what Japan was like during the Edo period (1603-1867). At the crossroads where the Shingashi River meets the old Kawagoe Road, the town flourished as a transportation and commerce hub. Today, it's still full of old historic buildings, historical museums, and unique shops that offer a taste of Edo.
Koedo Kawagoe's warehouse district
At the center of Koedo Kawagoe is the Warehouse District, a stretch of Kurazukuri Street that's lined with old wooden warehouses. Though they've preserved their original exteriors and interiors many of them are now used for other purposes, like shops and restaurants. One building houses the Museum of Kurazukuri, which reconstructs the interior of one of the warehouses just as it would have been centuries ago.
The famous bell tower
The Warehouse District's main landmark is the bell tower. It still rings out four times a day to mark the passing of time.
A walk down Candy Street
Behind the Warehouse District is Kawagoe's Candy Street. This stretch of street has 20 brightly colored candy shops selling traditional Japanese sweets. Back in its Edo period heyday, Candy Street had as many as 70 shops and was a major producer of confectionary in Japan. You can still watch the candy being made in the traditional way.
Experience the Taisho Era at Little Edo
Koedo Kawagoe isn't just about the Edo period. The town is a kind of living museum with sights to see from throughout Japan's history.
One of the more modern attractions here is Taisho-Roman Street, which offers the retro atmosphere of the Taisho era (1912-1926). Its paved streets, elegant atmosphere, and Western-style buildings has been used as a backdrop for many films about the era, and is a popular, atmospheric stroll.
The magical healing powers of Kitain Temple
Koedo Kawagoe also has a number of great temples to visit. Kitain Temple is the head temple for the Kanto region's Tendai Sect. Established about 1,200 years ago, it was patronised by the ruling Tokugawa shogunate during the Edo period. One of its head priests was believed to have magical healing powers. Today he is enshrined here and people visit to pray for protection.
The biggest Buddha collection in Kawagoe
The most interesting part of the temple complex is its over 500 statues of Buddha, which were carved by various artists during the Edo period. Each has its own distinct features and facial expression.
The remains of Kawagoe Castle
One more Edo-era sight to enjoy in Koedo Kawagoe is Honmaru Goten, the last surviving remnant of Kawagoe Castle. It was the castle's innermost palace and it housed the lord's residence and personal offices. It played an important role in the early Edo period as a satellite fortress for Edo Castle.
For further exploration, shrine hop through the area
Nearby is Hikawa-jinja Shrine , a Shinto shrine from the sixth century. It has a massive 15-meter torii gate and some of the trees in the shrine's garden are over 500 years old.