Three areas to focus on for first-timers
Kawagoe, which enjoyed great prosperity and was beloved by the Tokugawa shoguns for over 400 years, has a comfortable familiarity and a dignified Japanese elegance born from its long history. Let’s introduce three areas to focus on for first-timers.
The Ichibangai area is an area whose Kurazukuri Street is a notable spot of Kawagoe which has been selected as one of “Japan’s Top 100 Beautiful Historic Features”. The area which centers on the symbolic Time Bell Tower is Edo Era merchant culture in itself. On holidays, rickshaws go back and forth through the town filled with tourist activity, and it is as if you have gotten lost in a castle town from a samurai flick. In Kashiya Yokocho (Confectionary Row), up to 20 classic small-time candy shops line the alley which is popular for its nostalgic air and friendliness. The Kawagoe specialty of “daikokubashira” has a length of 95 cm and is Japan’s longest candy. It has quite the impact as a souvenir.There is also the liveliest event of the year in the form of the Kawagoe Festival which takes place in the fall. From all over the area, floats come out from their storehouses and compete with each other in gorgeous style.
The lushly green Kita-in area includes Kita-in Temple which was patronized by the Tokugawa family. Within the open temple grounds, Senba Tosho-gu Shrine, one of Japan’s 3 Great Tosho-gu shrines, was established, and inside the shrine, there is also “Iemitsu Tokugawa’s birth room” which was recognized as an Important Cultural Property. The 500 Rakan statues which were created in one part of the temple have humorous expressions to cheer up visitors.
The Honmaru Palace area has Kawagoe Castle which has been chosen as one of “Japan’s Top 100 Famous Castles”. Honmaru Palace, the only surviving building of the former castle, still retains its bold appearance and has an enormous entrance hall where a long corridor stretches out from side to side with a great hall with personality opening up to you. During good weather, how about sitting out on the open veranda while imagining the lives of the feudal lords of the time? Elsewhere, there are other buildings such as Miyoshino Shrine and Hikawa Shrine which evoke Japanese culture.