Only 30 minutes train ride from Tokyo & you travel back in time to the Edo Period (1603-1868). Old clay merchant houses line the streets and not a neon sign in sight. Kawagoe is known as “Koedo” or little-Edo and retains all the charm of its past.
Kawagoe is the Japan you imagined existed- the land of samurai warriors & Buddhist monks living cheek by jowl. While Tokyo has it’s own allure it no longer has the feel of a “historical” town. Besides Kawagoe is so easy to get to and to get around. Oh- and for those with limited time we should mention Kawagoe is a suitable alternative to visiting Kyoto!
How To Get There
We took the day trip from Ikebukuro but there are options from Shinjuku also. To make life easy we purchased the premium one-day Discount Pass for 950 yen. The Pass includes the return train-trip to Kawagoe & unlimited travel on local buses operated by Tobu.
Note: If you prefer to ride the retro bus operated by a different company choose the train-only pass from Ikebukuro for 700 yen!
For once in Japan the train journey was a cinch. Just sit and ride the train until Kawagoe. Watching the cityscape high-rise buildings slowly disappear from view felt therapeutic. Once we had located the bus stops (this attached map was pretty simple to follow) we simply had to board & decide where to get off & on. Leaving Ikebukuro at 11:30 am we still managed without any pressure (and a 3-year old in tow) to see the main sights of Hikawa Shrine, have a relaxed lunch & walk the atmospheric streets. A full-day would be a real treat and a great break from Tokyo.
Hikawa Shrine- our 1st stop
We wanted to check out the riverside area famous for cherry blossoms. While the “sakura” were not yet in bloom the nearby Hikawa Shrine had so much going on we hardly spent any time enjoying the riverside walk.
Back on the Loop Bus- to Old town
You simply get back on the bus where you got off and flash the Discount Coupon when alighting the bus and you’re off to the next destination. We opted for a quick coffee from the wooden coffee stands & a stroll along the old streets known as “Kura-zukuri”.
Our Favourite Place- Sweet Alley
A short step sideways from the Old Town and you’re in a little pokey alley known as “Kashiya Yokocho”. Cramped in on both sides by sweet vendors making & selling traditional sweets, cakes & ice-creams you can’t help but indulge. Just don’t stay too long or you’ll lose interest in having lunch!!