Located in peaceful Saitama, Kawagoe is the perfect place to feel like you've stepped back in time to experience ancient Japan. But what exactly awaits you in this traditional town?

Kawagoe overview and history

From Tokyo Station, Kawagoe takes just one hour to get to by train, making it a great day trip from the city center to experience a little slice of traditional Japan.
The former castle town is often referred to as "Little Edo" (ko-edo in Japanese), with good reason. Tokyo was previously called Edo, giving way to the Edo period (1603-1867). During this time, wealthy merchants from Kawagoe were inspired by the Edo-style buildings they came across in the capital and wanted to bring that back to Kawagoe.
One of the characteristic buildings from that period was Kura Zukuri, or "storehouses." These Kura Zukuri had thick walls of 8-10 inches. In the Kawagoe Great Fire of 1893, many buildings burnt down, but some of the Kura Zukuri survived. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of Edo's buildings that burnt in another widespread fire.

After the fire, Kura Zukuri in Kawagoe were rebuilt or renovated, so many of the buildings you see today were built in the late 1800s. But you can no longer see this style of building easily in Tokyo, so if you are looking to experience the Edo of years gone by, Kawagoe is the place to be.

Aside from the traditional architecture, Kawagoe is also known for its lively festivals, particularly the annual Kawagoe Festival on the third weekend of October, where 29 huge floats "battle" in the streets alongside energetic music.
What many people don't know is that Japan’s iconic Kitsune mask (fox mask) originated here at Kawagoe’s festivals. Telling the story of a Tenko (good fox), a woman would dance with a fox mask as part of the celebrations. You can get the mask all over the town!

What to do in Kawagoe

Ahead of Golden Week, koinobori carp streamers billow along Taisho Roman Yume-dori Street. In 2022, the event went from March 26 to May 15.

Modern-day Kawagoe has a great variety of sightseeing spots, both old and new. Some shops and restaurants have been in business for over 200 years, whereas others adopt old aesthetics but bring a new concept to the town.
A walk through the former castle town gives you a sense of the Japan of old, and you can even rent a kimono for the day for added authenticity.
So what is there to do and see in this traditional town? Here are our recommendations for the must-see spots in Kawagoe.

Toki no Kane Bell Tower

The “Toki no Kane” Bell Tower is a well-known symbol of Kawagoe, and is the star of the show in many photoshoots in the area. The 16-meter-t…

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