On the three day long weekend I had planned to go to Nikko on the Sunday and Monday and didn’t want to waste the Saturday loafing around at home. So I looked into a day trip, easily accessible from Tokyo and I came across Kawagoe.
Kawagoe is about an hour north of Tokyo in the Saitama prefecture and is known for it’s Edo period architecture. I started the day off nice and early and was determined to leave home at 9am in order to maximise the day. After making it to Kawagoe station, I stopped off at the information desk and picked up some maps and got a few recommendations from the lovely Oji-chan that was working the desk. He recommended to get a 300yen bus pass that would stop at all the major attractions.
I started off at the Kita-In Temple. It was early on in the day, so there weren’t too many people around and I was able to wander around the grounds for a while. It was another extremely hot and humid day, so it was nice to be amongst the greenery in the temple grounds.
Within the grounds were the Gohyaku Rakan (500 disciples of Buddha) statues. It was a peaceful part of the temple and was basically 538 stone statues – no two of which were the same. There were some interesting looking ones; I’m not entirely sure what they were meant to represent but was fun to look at.
Bottom left: When you’ve had enough of real life
Next I hopped back on the loop bus and made my way to Honmaru Goten of Kawagoe Castle, part of which has remained since the time of the Tokugawa Shogunate. I really had no really idea what I was looking at here so I just walked around for a bit trying to appreciate the architecture (but failing!) and ended up just going for a walk down the street instead.
Around the castle grounds
The next stop was Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, built in the Edo Period. This place was packed with both tourists and people coming to pray. It was a particularly beautiful shrine, despite all the people, with a 15m tall Torii gate and a walkway of wooden boards of peoples wishes.
Sneaky pic of a couple at the shrine (supposedly it is popular among people praying for marriage!)
Something is a little off the alignment of the photos for some reason. Sorry!
And me being me, I got on the wrong bus heading in the wrong direction around the loop next and did not end up at my next destination as planned. So I got off at a random spot and ended up walking around for a bit until I ended where I needed to be, but at the end of the road rather than the start! Oh well, at least I made it to the main street of Kawagoe – Ichibangi Street.
Basically this street is filled with these Edo period buildings selling various handmade and traditional products. It was really quite cool walking down this street into all the little shops.
Kashiya Yokocho (Penny Candy Lane) where they make traditional candy and rice crackers
All in all it was a nice day out; I bought myself a handmade necklace as a souvenir. In the 6 plus hours I spent in Kawagoe, I was surprised at how few foreign tourists there were around. There were plenty of locals interested in learning more about the history of the area.
And in classic style on the bus back, I got off at a bus stop too early and had to walk more than a kilometre to the train station. As I got off the train back home I heard beside me “Eeeee….Sensei????” I met some of my students heading home after a whole day of baseball practice on a Saturday. They then proceeded to try to tell me something about Dragonball Z, but it was awfully cute of them to even talk to me outside of school.
The backlog of posts continues…