Category Archives: Kawagoe

Kawagoe features a lot on my blog as I visit it often. As a Local Guide I can help you with any queries you have on Kawagoe, just pop your question into a comment on any thread and I will respond. There are a lot of articles on the various parks & play areas, tourist spots, off the beaten track areas of Kawagoe, as well as fun and unique cafés, shops and restaurants and much more!

City Cost Place Review: Kawagoe Station East Exit Children’s Centre

Review – Kawagoe Station East Exit Children’s Centre in Japan. The play centre is located on the 4th floor of a civic centre for citizens, commonly referred to as “Kurasse” which is the buildings name. Below it there is a l

I’m currently working with City-Cost.com to share information on locations in Saitama. This is one of my latest offerings; information for the jidokan in Kurasse building close to Kawagoe Station. I also added this facility to GOOGLE Maps today. This is the children’s centre that STEPS English playgroup used for meet ups for the inaugural year.  We still occasionally meet there, but for more information on the current system and meet up places please see the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/saitamasteps/

The play centre is located on the 4th floor of a civic centre for citizens, commonly referred to as “Kurasse” which is the buildings name. Below it there is a library and above it there are meeting rooms and citizen services. The staff are very helpful, but to the best of my knowledge none of them speak English. They have some pamphlets and information for living in Kawagoe, but they are all in Japanese only.

The centre isn’t particularly big, but it has enough to entertain young kids. There is a main hall with some play equipment including climbing boxes and a slide. They hold events here including an English language event three times a month. Beside the office of the children’s centre there is a smaller room with quite a few toys including a play kitchen. There are a selection of books in the hall, including some English books. They have clean and well kept toilets divided into ladies and mens, and they also have a wheelchair accessible toilet that has a changing mat.

The centre is open from 9.30 am Wednesday to Monday, closing on Tuesdays except when its a public holiday. It is conveniently located within minutes walk of JR and Tobu Tojo line Kawagoe station. There is parking down a narrow alleyway beside the centre, but parking is charged. I previously drove an American car (Chrysler, Voyager) which was too big to turn into the car park! I have an 8 seater now too, but it is a Japanese model and therefore a bit narrower and it can navigate the turn no problem.

Source: Place Review: Kawagoe Station East Exit Children’s Centre, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama | City-Cost

 

Priya the magical dog, killer hornets and stone grilled food |Kawagoe

I was living in the Kawagoe area many years before I stumbled upon a curious little shop off the beaten track, which has intrigued and enthralled me ever since. The name of the shop is as ambiguous as the products and services they offer. The kanji over the door 浪漫 can be called “Roman“, the Japanese version of Romantic, but nowhere on their webpages is this name used. So I call it Kasumi, which is the most common name I can find associated to the shop.

Kasumi Kawagoe Honey shop and Priya magical dog (2)

Kasumi (or Kasumi Flower) seems to have originally been set up as a management shop for some of the rickshaws in the area. However, one of the many signs over its door says its a “stone grill” restaurant. This indeed seems to be one of their better trades, serving hungry customers, but here’s the curious bit, its stone grilled… curry?? Just another conundrum of this unique and mysterious shop near the tourist area of Kawagoe.

Kasumi Kawagoe Honey shop and Priya magical dog (3)

 

One of their key products is honey and I have to say its about the best I’ve ever tasted. The beekeeper seems to be the owner of the shop, he is certainly the key character there.  He is a formidable and charismatic man, albeit slightly egocentric, but he reminds me of the Moore Street traders.  He delights in talking and prides himself on his produce. He has excellent English so he can explain quite a lot about beekeeping and the killer hornets he displays in jars at the front of the shop. He is also the owner of the famous healing dog Priya.

Famous dog in Kawagoe "Priya", said to have magical powers!
Famous dog in Kawagoe “Priya”, said to have magical powers!

Priya is said to have healing and magical powers. In exactly what way I do not know. The signs above and outside the shop brag of the Goddess Dog of Good Luck Priya. Inside the shop, cum restaurant cum rickshaw depot, they sell Priya goods and amulets.  If you buy lunch or purchase honey you get to have your photo taken with Priya. There are a number of photos of Priya with famous people and she has been on the TV and in the media a number of times. All I can say for sure is that she is a very lovely and placid dog. I can’t attest to her powers. She does fascinate me though, they way she sits up in the chair almost regally, perfectly poised and ready for a souvenir photo.

All in all, Kasumi (aka Roman Ishiyaki aka Kawagoe Jiryokuya) is worth a visit if you enjoy bantering with shopkeepers, like something a bit quirky, want to try stone grilled curry or delicious honey, are fascinated by killer hornets and/or want to meet a (maybe) magical dog!

KASUMI / ROMAN ISHIYAKI / KAWAGOE JIRYOKUYA

HOURS: 11am to 5pm. Please note that while they don’t have an official day off, they tend to take days here and there. Especially after a busy weekend. There are quite a lot of shops like that in Kawagoe.

TEL: 049-225-1015 (Shop)

WEB:

Shop:
kasumiflower.co.jp

Priya the magical dog: http://www.kasumiflower.co.jp/priya/index.html

Rickshaw company Kawagoe Jiryokuya: http://www.kasumiflower.co.jp/jinrikiya/index.html

Beekeeping and honey: http://www.kasumiflower.co.jp/honey/index.html

Summer in Isanuma Park | Kawagoe

Isanuma park in Kawagoe is a popular spot with locals. It also attracts professional photographers and bird lovers from further afar, who come to capture the wildlife on the lake. It is not a big park, but it has good facilities for its size.

In summer, the trees of the wood and its position by a river and lake make it a little cooler than central Kawagoe. There are some Gazebos in the woods too, affording extra shade. The main attraction for families is the water play: a splash pool and wading river. The paddling pool part is only partly in the shade, but the wading river enjoys good cover from the burning sun. Another attraction during summer is the BBQ facilities. However, you need to have a local in your group to be allowed book a coveted BBQ spot.  In mid-July, every other year Kawagoe’s fireworks display are launched from this park.

Scroll down for address and access details.

 

Other articles about Isanuma Park

PLAYGROUND INFORMATION:

 

SPRING: Cherry Blossoms at Isanuma Park

AUTUMN: Fall leaves in Kawagoe Isanuma Park

 

Information

Address: 584 Numata, Isanuma, Kawagoe 〒350-0855 埼玉県川越市 大字伊佐沼字沼田町584

TEL: +81 49-222-1301

Parking: Parking is available on two sides of the park. The most convenient and largest is the parking lot opposite the lake.  There is also parking along the west side industrial area and by the small hotel and tennis courts on the North West side of the park.

By Bus: Take a bus for Kawagoe Green Park and alight at Isanuma Bouken no Mori, approximately 5 minutes walk from bus stop.

URL: http://www.city.kawagoe.saitama.jp/kurashi/sports_koen/koen/isanuma.html

NEARBY PARKS

Unique Mommy and Baby cafe | Hoppe, Kawagoe

Today’s adventure brought us to the newest “Oyaka” (Parent and child) cafe, HOPPE, in Kawagoe, which only opened last year (2015). In essence it is really a Mother and baby / toddler cafe and it is the only one of its kind that I have ever visited. It is like being in a friend’s living room… an immaculate modern living room with waiting staff and endless supplies of tea and soft drinks! In fact, the cafe is actually a converted apartment in a regular apartment block.

The front door is locked so you can’t just walk in, you need to be buzzed in.  It requires booking and it is only for women (except Sundays) and children up to three years old in the morning. In the afternoon older children are welcome with children up to 6 free up until the end of March. From April 1st the system is changing slightly and only children under 3 are free. You can book and pay for an hour or two or a whole day. (Please check the website linked for up-to-date prices). If you book for 2 hours you get “service”, as they call it in Japan, of very fresh and delicious bread. If you book for a whole day, you can come and go as you please. They have lunch, desserts and snacks that you can purchase too and it is very reasonably priced. Pasta lunch was only 350 yen. You can use electronic foot massages for free and they have magazines and mangas that you can read while there.  For the kids they have lovely wooden toys, a slide and swing for baby. They have bumbo and wooden chairs for the kids to sit in for eating, and a nursing area and a changing area. You can buy baby food.

It is a wonderful space for Moms with babies and toddlers. My 1 year old absolutely loved it. She normally takes a while to warm to a new place, but today she felt very comfortable very quickly and was soon enjoying the toys and equipment. One of the staff entertained her for a while so us adults could chat. I really enjoyed the space too and I love the concept behind it. If you read Japanese, you can find lots of great information, and even a discount, on the cafe’s blog: http://hoppe.babymilk.jp/wordpress/

**I have no affiliation to this company

【店内で楽しく記念撮影会!】 【店内ではシーズン毎に楽しいウォールアートをご用意】モーニング娘OG 石黒彩さんもご来店くださいました。こんな記念撮影も当店ならでは! 【お席はフリー 赤ちゃんの気の向くままどうぞ】 【一組様でもゆったり楽しめ

Source: 店内写真 |

2015 Autumn Leaves at Edo Castle remains| Kitain Temple

On the grounds of Kitain Temple there is a very special building, which is home to some important national treasures. The house protects the only remains of the Edo Castle living quarters, which was once located at the site of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The rooms where moved from the Edo Castle on the order of Shogun Iemitsu, including the room he was born in.  It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the castle was later destroyed by natural disasters.

The building is a museum of sorts, and you have to pay to enter. The ticket also grants you access to the 500 statues of Rakan. A bonus to the museum building is that the gardens are absolutely magnificent, particularly in Autumn. You can’t enter the gardens, but you can enjoy the view from the terrace of the historic house.  With just a smart phone as a camera, you can’t quite see the beautiful red bridge, but in person the view is truly breathtaking.  Red bridges have always been synonmous with Japan for me, but it is actually quite rare to see one. If you are in Kawagoe in Autumn, I would recommend paying in to see the gardens and the imperial rooms of the Edo castle.

For those with children, there is a small playground on the temple grounds and lots of places for the children to explore. There is also rest areas, a toilet, vending machines, a little restaurant and a small shop. To the best of my knowledge none of the toilets have nappy changing facilities, but nobody has ever taken exception to me changing babies on a bench or in their buggy! Visitors from home always enjoy a trip to Kitain, particularly when the leaves have changed colour in the first or second week of November.

 

Kitain Temple is less than an hour from Tokyo. It is a 20 minute walk from Kawagoe Station on the Tobu Tojo Line or 15 minutes from the Seibu Shinjuku Line HonKawagoe Station. You can also get a local bus from either of these stations. By car it is 20 minutes from either the Kawagoe Interchange of the Kanetsu Expressway or from the Kawajima Interchange of the Metropolitan Intercity (Ken-O) Expressway. Parking is available at 500 yen for the day. Car park closes at 16.00.

Access from Kawagoe Station

Koedo Kawagoe bus one day pass allows you unlimited travel on the Koedo Kawagoe buses. It costs 300 yen. In the bus they have a monitor with sightseeing information.  Some tourist places give discounts on souvenirs or entrance tickets to people with a one day pass.
Koedo Kawagoe Loop Bus

Koedo Meguri (Loop) Bus from Kawagoe station. You can buy a one day pass that allows you unlimited travel on the Meguri Bus. It stops at 16 different locations. 104 different shops, offer discount services such as souvenirs, food, and entrance fees to facilities for holders of this day pass. There are announcements in English and Chinese as well as Japanese so foreigners can feel at ease.

More information here:
http://www.new-wing.co.jp/koedo/index_e.html

Kawagoe Access by train from Tokyo and Omiya

  • 31 minutes from Ikebukuro on a express train on the Tobu Tojo Line. 470 yen
  • 44 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku on a Red Arrow Limited Express. 420 yen for the express ticket, plus base fare.
  • 66 minutes from Shinjuku or 62 minutes from Takadanobaba on Seibu Shinjuku Line.  You can buy one round trip ticket for 700 yen for either of those stations.
  • 54 minutes from JR Shinjuku on a rapid train of the Saikyo/Kawagoe line. 760 yen.
  • 28 minutes on a regular train from Omiya on the Saikyo/Kawagoe Line or 22 minutes on the rapid train.
  • The Fukutoshin and Yurakucho subways connect to the Tobu Tojo line at Wako-shi. Some of them go all the way to Kawagoe (and beyond) too.

Access by Car

About 21 kilometres from Nerima to Kawagoe using the Kanetsu Expressway. The toll for the expressway is about 840 yen.

About 40 kilometres from Hinode using the Ken-o highway. The toll is about 1400 yen.

For more information about Kitain Temple and all it has to offer:

In English: http://www.kawagoe.com/kitain/english/

In Japanese: http://www.kawagoe.com/kitain/

On this blog in English:

http://insaitama.com/cherry-blossom-festival-at-kitain-temple/

http://insaitama.com/autumn-leaves-at-kitain-temple-kawagoe/

Kitain New Year’s event: Daruma market on January 3rd. 

Kitain Temple Daruma Festival | KAWAGOE

Gingko Trees at Ukishima Inari Shrine | Kawagoe

Ukishima Inari Shrine is a little shrine you pass on the walking route from Miyoshino Shrine and Kitain Temple.

 

2 Ukushima 1

The grounds of the shrine have a beautiful water feature and old stone bridge, which unfortunately have been blemished with a vulgar white fence.

Ukushimainari 1
2 Ukushima 2

I have passed it a few times in other seasons and just took a mental note of a playground on the grounds.

KIMG4901

KIMG4886

2 Ukushima

 

However, on passing it on my most recent Kawagoe walking tour, the resplendent Gingko Trees brandished their Autumn glory sparking an interest in this rarely mentioned shrine.

Ukushimainari 2

#NaBloPoMo Post #29

 

Manhole Monday

Regular Monday feature for the month of NABLOPOMO, introducing the manhole cover art of the Greater Tokyo area of Saitama and beyond.

MT TAKAO, TOKYO

Even at 599 metres there are manhole covers! I couldn’t find a coloured one, but the steel one is quite nice regardless.

KIMG4342

KAWAGOE

Kawagoe manholes have featured on my blog before, but this week I managed to find a new-to-me one and a coloured version of the Bell Tower manhole cover.

KIMG4885

 

Kawagoe coloured manhole

If you are interested in manhole covers, I recommend you check out these three blogs with a great selection:

Shizuoka Gourmet: http://shizuokagourmet.com/?s=manhole

Life in the Land of Wa: http://dustinandlaura.blogspot.jp/search?q=manhole

KA Japan: http://kajapan.org/?s=manhole

Edo period Candy craft in Kawagoe

4-Candy craft (2)

Today, we went to watch the Candy Man in Kawagoe! He is a performance artist, who sculpts candy into different shapes, characters and forms, in an art form known as Amezaiku, in Japan. Above you can see a unicorn made out of candy.

Sculpting candy in art
Sculpting candy in to art, Amezaiku, candy craft artist Suzuki

The Candy Man Suzuki, one of only a few traditional candy folk artists practising regularly in Japan, performs in the Sweet Street (or Candy Alley) of Kawagoe(川越菓子屋横町)。  Kawagoe is referred to as Little Edo and this candy craft dates back to the Edo period. Suzuki uses a taffy like mixture, similar to corn syrup, which is made from rice and malt. It is called Mizuame in Japanese, which translates to “water candy”.  Suzuki shapes the candy, while it is still hot, into different animals and objects. It costs 300 yen for a sculpted candy.  Part of the pleasure of the sweet, is watching it being sculpted and formed,  and bantering with the creator as he works.  Sometimes he will take requests. You can see him at work in this video I found on Youtube:

Blowing candy
Blowing candy

One of the appeals of this type of candy street stall, is that you can make your own blowing candy for just 100 yen (less than one Euro). Suzuki prepares the hot glutinous starch syrup placing it on a straw. You blow into it to give it a ball like shape. If you fail to blow into shape before it hardens, he will fix it into a ame no tori, candy bird, for you, by snipping and shaping.  This could be why the candy was called ame no tori during the edo period.  He uses a traditional Japanese scissors for snipping and paints on food colouring for the finished effect.  Pictured below is the ame no tori, candy bird, he made for my eldest daughter.

Ame no Tori, Candy bird
Ame no Tori, Candy bird




Candy man Suzuki works from a traditional portable stall on the sweet street in Kawagoe, Saitama. However, you can also visit a candycraft workshop in Sendagi, Tokyo.  Great information in English available here: https://www.ana-cooljapan.com/contents/shopping/movie/candycrafts/INT13011202

For more about the art and an insight into an Amezaiku artist, you can read about the Internationally acclaimed Takahiro Mizuki.  There are some great photos on that webpage too. In English: http://www.amezaiku.com/eng/index2.html and In French: http://www.amezaiku.com/fr/index3.html  For more on the history, there is a fairly detailed piece on Tofugu http://www.tofugu.com/2015/01/06/amezaiku-japanese-candy-creatures-made-fire-sugar/

The candy man usually practices in Candy Street which is in Motomachi. The tourist buses will bring you close:

Access from Kawagoe Station

Koedo Kawagoe bus one day pass allows you unlimited travel on the Koedo Kawagoe buses. It costs 300 yen. In the bus they have a monitor with sightseeing information.  Some tourist places give discounts on souvenirs or entrance tickets to people with a one day pass.
Koedo Kawagoe Loop Bus

Koedo Meguri (Loop) Bus from Kawagoe station. You can buy a one day pass that allows you unlimited travel on the Meguri Bus. It stops at 16 different locations. 104 different shops, offer discount services such as souvenirs, food, and entrance fees to facilities for holders of this day pass. There are announcements in English and Chinese as well as Japanese so foreigners can feel at ease.

More information here:
http://www.new-wing.co.jp/koedo/index_e.html

Kawagoe Access by train from Tokyo and Omiya

  • 31 minutes from Ikebukuro on a express train on the Tobu Tojo Line. 470 yen
  • 44 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku on a Red Arrow Limited Express. 420 yen for the express ticket, plus base fare.
  • 66 minutes from Shinjuku or 62 minutes from Takadanobaba on Seibu Shinjuku Line.  You can buy one round trip ticket for 700 yen for either of those stations.
  • 54 minutes from JR Shinjuku on a rapid train of the Saikyo/Kawagoe line. 760 yen.
  • 28 minutes on a regular train from Omiya on the Saikyo/Kawagoe Line or 22 minutes on the rapid train.
  • The Fukutoshin and Yurakucho subways connect to the Tobu Tojo line at Wako-shi. Some of them go all the way to Kawagoe (and beyond) too.

Access by Car

About 21 kilometres from Nerima to Kawagoe using the Kanetsu Expressway. The toll for the expressway is about 840 yen.

About 40 kilometres from Hinode using the Ken-o highway. The toll is about 1400 yen.

Styrofoam Art in Kawagoe

Kawagoe is a very popular tourist area in Saitama, about 30 minutes by train from Ikebukuro station in Tokyo. There is a lot to do in the tourist area of Kawagoe and a wealth of information about it on the web.  However, I want to introduce a little known fact about the art in the popular tourist area.  Around the area of “kashiya yokocho“, literally meaning sweet (candy) alley, there are a number of giant and life size animal replicas. They are all made out of styrofoam!

The artist, Yajima Kimio, retired early from his Kawagoe City Hall position, to indulge in his passion. I, for one, am glad he did. The displays change over time, so you never know when a new one will appear or an old one will be moved. Most of his work is displayed in Kawagoe, but you can also find some of his work in other parts of Saitama.

I got some of his work this past weekend. I realise after reading his blog tonight, I missed a few pieces. A good incentive, not that I need one, to go back to Kawagoe sooner rather than later. You can find Mr Yajima’s blog here: http://homepage3.nifty.com/kerokero2009/index.html
You can see some more of his work on this (unrelated) blog here: http://tokyoern.blogspot.jp/2014/06/a-walk-around-koedo-kawagoe-part-2.html

Sweet Street:

Wind chimes at Hikawa Shrine in Kawagoe

Each summer, Hikawa Shrine displays hundreds of wind chimes during the months of July and August. Today, a storm was brewing up and I instantly thought of going to see the chimes! Last year, when we went the air was so dead that the chimes were also lifeless. Today, we could enjoy their soothing sounds. (Video used with permission).

During the wind chime season, you can add your prayers to the wind chimes by buying an ema, a small wooden plaque, to write your prayer and tie to the chime. Some areas have coloured chimes, while others are clear. At night-time, it is particularly spectacular as the chimes are illuminated and there is a light show in the water feature at the front of the shrine grounds.  Occasionally, there is also live music to accompany the whole sensual experience.

Regular Ema for writing your prayers at Hikawa Shrine
Regular Ema for writing your prayers at Hikawa Shrine
The "ema" (wooden plaques for writing prayers) of Hikawa shrine wind chimes
The “ema” (wooden plaques for writing prayers) of Hikawa shrine wind chimes

The shrine is open from 9am to 9pm. The illumination starts from 7pm. The cafe next door, Musubi cafe, offers seasonal sweets in association with the event.  You can walk from Hon-kawagoe or Kawagoe stations along a tourist route, but it takes about 40 minutes. There is a tourist bus or a regular bus will bring you close. There is free parking for 300 cars.  The event closes August 31st.

On August 7th Hikawa Shrine have their annual Tanabata (Star) Festival. At that time, you can see coloured strips of wishes tied to bamboo trees. You can also write your own wish to add to the bamboo shoots. They have some additional festival stalls and music on that day.

Address: 2-11-3 Miyashita Machi, Kawagoe, Saitama

Phone: 049-224-0589

You can take a video tour of the wind chimes at the shrine at the official website: http://www.hikawa-fuurin.jp/