Known as Little Edo, Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture is a place I’ve been to on many occasions and it has featured on Tokyo Fox a few times albeit in some quite poorly written blog posts from a long, long time ago. Wanting to visit it again, I decided to cycle there as it’s a very direct straight route of about 30 kilometres one way from the TFGOC.
Rather than go in chronological order, we’ll go in order of what I consider to be the most interesting and that means starting with these purple noodles (below) which I had for an early lunch. These udon noodles are actually made of sweet potato (imo in Japanese) and cost me ¥750. They were very chewy but tasty all the same although they didn’t really fill me up. There was a more expensive set that included tempura with it but I just wanted to get the basic purple noodle tasting experience.
A place that I’ve never been was Hikawa Shrine which has seemingly become very popular with the tourist hordes in recent years due to a few notable photographic opportunities for the Instagram generation. This tunnel of wooden ema (below), with the sunlight reflecting through, really does look cool. It’s actually more than twice as long as you can see below but there were so many people there that I did well to get some pictures without people in them.
The next highlight of this shrine is the 10 metre long corridor of marriage wind chimes (below) with hanging prayers written on vertical wooden plaques. There are about 2000 of them in various colours and the sound is very nice when the wind blows which it still did a bit on this hot and humid day in late July. Little did I know that this particular feature is for the Summer season only and ends early September some time!
Kita-in Temple (below) is one of the most famous sights in Kawagoe and one, that to be honest, has not really impressed me on my previous visits.
However, on those occasions I wasn’t aware of the rakan-sama statues garden (below) in the vicinity. Anyone who read my post last month about the mountainside temple in Fukushima Prefecture will know about these extraordinary unique-faced statues. Little did I know then that there were a load of them a lot closer to home!
The temple is free but it costs 400 yen to see the statues. Getting the ticket is a little troublesome as you have to go a little out of your way to a building just north-east of the main temple hall to get them.
There are actually 540 of these rakan statues which represent the disciples of Buddha. They were carved between 1782 and 1825 with no two statues alike. It is said that if you touch the statues in the dead of night you will find one that is warm. Remember the position and when you return during the day you will supposedly notice that it’s the statue that most resembles yourself!!
Just round the corner from the noodle restaurant I mentioned at the top of this post was what looked like a fox mask shop. However, as I got closer I realised it was actually a sweet shop which kind of made sense in some ways as it was on a street known (in English) as Penny Candy Lane that features well over a dozen stores specialising in candy, rice crackers, ice cream and other tasty treats.
My time in the city actually began a few hours earlier at Kawagoe Kumano Jinja; a shrine (below) which has featured in ‘Tsuki Ga Kirei‘ (‘As The Moon, So Beautiful‘ is the English title). I actually hunted down about half a dozen locations from that and they will appear on Tokyo Fox at a much later date.
There was a quick stop earlier in the day at Honmaru Goten (below) which I thought looks nothing like a castle whether it be British or Japanese ones! It turns out it is the only remaining building of Kawagoe Castle.
The most famous part of Kawagoe is undoubtedly the old Edo-style warehouse buildings (below) and the bell tower. On this particular trip, I was keen to get away from this very touristy area but I couldn’t ignore it completely as it is still very picturesque.
The branch of Starbucks in Kawagoe (below) has been making a few headlines over the last couple of years due to its unique appearance which is a far cry from the standard stores and instead blends in with the appearance of the area. As a non-coffee drinker, I didn’t go in this time but I did on my last appearance in Kawagoe with my wife last Christmas.
I wanted to find the honey and waffle sweet potato shop (below) that we visited on that trip. I wasn’t too keen on the waffle itself but it was remarkable due to the spiritual dog belonging to the owners. Priya was 19 years old back in December and one does wonder if she’s still alive eight months later.
There is an onsen (hot spring bath) just a couple of kilometres west of the station that I was going to visit but I decided against it as I just wanted to get the return ride done knowing it would be tough.
Click here to read ’34 Degrees Celsius! Not Ideal Weather For Cycling To Kawagoe (& Back!) But That Is What I Did!’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: For Fox Sake! Not Another Trip To Kawagoe!’ (2011)
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Aquatic Park Kawagoe 川越水上公園’ (2009)
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Little Edo’ (2007)