June 04, 2015


Saitama(埼玉)prefecture is directly north of Tokyo. One of its famous attraction is Kawagoe(川越), a former castle town known as Little Edo, which is only less than an hour train ride away from Tokyo.

I went there in March 2014. Indeed, there are a few places that retain the atmosphere of Edo period. Rented a bicycle with credit card (only 200 yen a day!) at a bicycle kiosk near the station and visited most of the attractions around the town in 1 day. It was very convenient and easy to navigate, as every bicycle comes with a laminated map. There are kiosks near the key attractions, though the rule is that once a bicycle leaves a kiosk, it has to be returned (to any kiosk) within 40 minutes, or else a penalty would be charged to the credit card. (That happened to me as I happened to drop off at a kiosk that was supposed to be closed off that day due to a festival in the area.)

Anyway, visited the Kitain temple(喜多院), head temple of Tendai Sect in the Kanto region. Several buildings were asked to be shifted from Edo Castle to here, by third shogun of Edo period-- Tokugawa Iemitsu. One of the rooms is also believed to be where he was born. When I visited, Kawagoe Spring Festival just started, and there were cherry blossoms and food stalls in the premise. There is also an area outside of the temple with 540 stone statues of Buddha's disciples.

Next, visited the Honmaru Goten(本丸御殿)of Kawagoe Castle, the only building left of the castle.

Checked out the Taisho Roman street and the Warehouse District(蔵造りの町並み), the main street with Edo period vibe. The good thing was that the road was closed due to a festival, so it was really like a journey back time~

There is also a candy alley-- Kashiya Yokocho(菓子屋横丁)nearby, selling traditional Japanese sweets.

Other than Kawagoe, another place to visit in the prefecture is Saitama City. There is a railway museum and a Bonsai(盆栽)village, and quite a number of malls around Omiya(大宮)station.


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