Woman in Kimono viewing cherry blossoms in Kawagoe city
Julie Gozali 

Five Fun Ways to Enjoy Kawagoe!

Discovering Kwagoe - a Hidden Gem Nearby Tokyo

Kawagoe city is also known as Little Edo. It is famous for its old town, a shopping street that preserves its historic warehouse-style buildings. These old merchant houses, known as kurazukuri, dates back to the Edo Period (17th to 19th centuries Japan).

If you are looking for a day trip that is easily accessible from Tokyo, I highly recommend you put Kawagoe in your list. It is less than one hour away from Tokyo and it gives off a very different vibe to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s city life.

I lived in Kawagoe for five years and in that time, I got to explore many tourist attractions and local spots around the area. I hope that my insights into this beautiful town will inspire you to visit. Here are my 5 recommendations for a fun day to enjoy Kawagoe:

Kawagoe City Festival - fun ways to enjoy Kawagoe

Kawagoe Festival | Julie Gozali

1. Wear a kimono and return to the Edo period of Japan

Are you ready to be transported to old Japan? The best way to feel like you’re back in the Edo period is to wear what the Japanese used to wear.

You can easily rent a traditional Kimono (in colder months) or Yukata (in summer) in many kimono rental shops around Kawagoe. I recommend Kawagoe Koto. For less than ¥2,500, you get to choose your kimono, get dressed and get your hair done by a professional, and walk around Kawagoe for the whole day.

Julie in Kimono viewing cherry blossoms - fun ways to enjoy Kawagoe

Admiring the Cherry Blossoms while wearing a Kimono  | Photo Julie Gozali

2. Visit all the iconic Kawagoe spots, recommended by a local

While wearing your kimono, it is time to visit all the iconic spots around the old town and take lots of photos:

  • The Bell Tower

Also known as Toki no Kane, the Bell Tower is the most prominent symbol of Kawagoe. You will see many people taking photos in front of the tower, so it is hard to miss. It is especially beautiful just before sunset.

Kawagoe city Warehouse district Chime of Time tower

Kawagoe city Warehouse district Chime of Time tower | Photo Julie Gozali

  • Shrines and temples

There are many notable places of worship around Kawagoe. Kitain and Nakain are two famous temples. The best time to visit Kitain is during spring or autumn, when the colours are changing. I recommend visiting Nakain in the early cherry blossom season when you can see a weeping sakura tree and a mimosa tree side-by-side. The Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine has been around for more than 1,500 years. It is also where you can find one of the largest wooden torii gates in Japan. It is beautiful in the summer, when the wind chimes are out.

Kitain Temple during sakura - fun ways to enjoy Kawagoe City

Kitain Temple at Kawagoe City | Photo Julie Gozali

  • Starbucks

The Starbucks on Kanetsuki-dori, where the Bell Tower is located, is not your typical Starbucks. The store blends in with the rest of the warehouse-style buildings. There is a Japanese garden at the back where you can enjoy a cold drink on a hot summer day. During the winter months, it is a great place to warm up with a cup of coffee.

Kawagoe City traditional Edo-style Starbucks building

Kawagoe City traditional Edo-style Starbucks building | Photo Julie Gozali

3. Try local delicacy of eels and sweet potatoes

Let me share with you where you can find the best local specialty foods around Kawagoe:

If you’re keen on giving the eels a try, head to Ogikaku on the Taisho Roman Yume-dori. You can grab a ticket and walk around the street while you wait for your turn to feast on delicious eel on rice in an old Edo-period building.

For sweet potatoes, I recommend Koedo Osatsuan, the sweet potato chips along Kanetsuki-dori. It is so popular that on weekends you will see a long queue. Feeling hungry? If snacking along the old town is not enough, stop by at Truck (Torokko) for a mini kaiseki of, you guessed it, sweet potatoes! You can enjoy various tastes and textures of Kawagoe’s specialty sweet potato served in beautiful ceramics.

Unagi dish at Kawagoe City

Unagi dish in Kawagoe City | Photo Julie Gozali

4. Soak your feet in a foot bath cafe

Now, it is time for a little secret that I will share with you… When you are tired from all the walking around Kawagoe, you can find a foot bath cafe tucked away behind a souvenir shop. The foot bath is located in the Tsubaki no Kura building. It is an Edo-style warehouse that has been transformed into a miscellaneous goods and souvenir store. The foot bath cafe is located on the first floor.

You will need to walk past the souvenir store to the counter at the back. If they are busy, they will give you a time slot for when you should return. If they have a space, it is time to choose a menu item. There are many drinks or dessert options that you can choose from. Once you have paid, you will be escorted to the garden outside. Please take off your shoes as you make your way to your seats. This experience is perfect for couples or a small group of friends. I love how they decorate the foot bath garden differently throughout the seasons. They also adjust the water temperature so that you can enjoy the foot bath all year long.

Apart from enjoying the foot bath, I also love walking around Kaya, the souvenir store filled with unique Japan-made products and accessories. This is a great spot if you are looking for souvenirs for your friends and family.

5. Join in the local festivals and bask in the atmosphere

Kawagoe, like many towns around Japan, celebrates a number of festivals throughout the year. You can find beautiful cherry blossom in spring, fireworks and illuminations in summer, and the main Kawagoe Festival in autumn.

The Kawagoe Festival is held annually in mid-October and it is the biggest festival in Kawagoe, with 370 years of history. There are more than 20 festival floats paraded during the weekend and hundreds of food stalls. Make sure you’re prepared for a big crowd.

If you cannot visit during the festival but would like to know more, you can also visit the Kawagoe Festival Museum located in the old town.

Kawagoe Festival at night | Traditional colorful rope at the Festival (Photo Julie Gozali)

Final Thoughts

Kawagoe is beautiful in all seasons, so you can return again and again even after your first visit. I personally recommend visiting Kawagoe during spring. The rows of cherry blossom trees along the river is a sight to be seen. It is also less crowded than many spots around Tokyo, so it is perfect if you would like to find a quieter spot to enjoy cherry blossom viewing.

The best part is that Kawagoe is so easily accessible from Tokyo. Kawagoe Station is a 30-minute train ride from Ikebukuro on the Tobu Tojo Line. Alternatively, you can also get to Hon-Kawagoe Station (closer to the old town) in under one hour from Seibu-Shinjuku Station. You can definitely cover the main spots in half a day, however I think you will enjoy Kawagoe more if you spend a full day there.

There are so many other sightseeing spots and activities that you can enjoy around Kawagoe. If you do get to visit, I would love to hear how you spend your day leisurely in Little Edo.

Kawagoe City Travel Guide

Kawagoe Festival Guide

Did you find this article useful?

I hope you enjoyed reading about this hidden gem just north of Tokyo, if you would like to know more about fun things to do and travel ideas, please continue to have a look at our must-see / must do things nearby Tokyo page.

To book unique activities in English, please see the Nearby Tokyo experience page.

Woman in Kimono viewing cherry blossoms in Kawagoe city

Contributor: Julie Gozali

Julie was one year old when she first visited Japan and ate a soft serve. It was love at first bite. She currently lives in Tokyo, spending her free time eating snacks, collecting cute things, and planning her next travel. She is addicted to Insta Stories and sharing her favourite nom noms. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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