The real Santa Claus from Lapland (Finland) is visiting the 5th floor of Maruhiro in Kawagoe on Saturday December 10th from 11 am.
Tickets to meet and greet Santa Claus and get a present of sweets from him will be on sale from 30 minutes before the event. A ticket costs 300 yen and there are only a 100 available.
Access: 5 minute walk from Hon Kawagoe Station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line and about 8 minutes from Kawagoe Station on the Tobu Tojo Line. Map, address and official website in the details section, grey box, below.
Treat the kids to a half hour with cats while you’re there!? About a minute walk from Maruhiro are 2 cat cafes. The first one you see as you walk away from Maruhiro toward the tourist area does not welcome children, but a few doors up, beside the Kaldi is a child friendly cat cafe. Close to it is a diner that does delicious ice-cream sundaes as well as latte art:
You can meet and greet Santa in the Toysrus in Kawagoe on Saturday December 3rd at five different time slots. He visits for 30 minutes at each time slot. This is a free event. Bring your own camera! It is not yet known if this Santa is a Lapland Santa or a Japanese Santa.
Kawagoe Toysrus is located on route 254 on the border of Kawajima town. There is a bus that goes infrequently from Kawagoe station, bound for “Hachimandanchi” 八万団地。 Free parking.
The kids are fairly exhausted after seven weeks of play dates, play centres, day trips, weekends away, special treats and seasonal activities. For their last day of holidays I wanted to treat them without physically exerting them, before the older three go back to school and preschool tomorrow. So rather than a play centre or physical activity, I settled on treating them to food pleasures and their first visit to a cat cafe. We had a dentist visit slotted in between too, but that proved to be quite a pleasure for them with the play area and toy to take home.
In this article:
Clean Bread Bakery Kawagoe Raku Raku Bakery
Family and child friendly Lion Dentist
Rescue Cat Cafe Neko Katsu
Retro American Diner MDT Cafe and Dining
*All mapped on a Google MyMap at the bottom of the article.
KAWAGOE RAKU RAKU BAKERY
Our first stop after a leisurely walk through the always pleasurable Sweet Street (Candy Alley / Kashi Yokocho) was at the Raku Raku Bakery for a spot of light lunch before the dentist. This bakery is known far and wide for its homemade clean bread and flour based food. Raku Raku bread, cookies, cakes, pastries, and pies are made from 100% Hokkaido wheat flour. They don’t use any artificial additives, colouring or preservatives. They provide allergy information and have some bread and pastries that are dairy free. An excerpt from City-Cost reviews;
They have a fantastic selection of flour-based food baked in an oven and even have some dairy free goods, which are quite hard to come by in this area of Saitama. They have lots of fruit and vegetable flavoured breads and cakes. My kids particularly enjoy the melon pan and sweet potato bread. Most of their business is take out by locals and tourists, but you can eat your take out on site in the small garden at the side of the bakery. The garden has some wooden tables and chairs and is protected from the sun by groves and sun umbrellas. During this hot season they have a mist spray that cools the entrance to the bakery and the seating area, too. You can help yourself to complementary tea or coffee from self service machines. They are just little cups, but the coffee is quite good. If you prefer sitting in to eat, they have just opened a sandwich deli on the opposite side of the laneway. For purchases exceeding one thousand yen, you can receive a 10% discount with a Saitama Mama and Papas card. There is a little bit of English available in store.
The reason my kids enjoyed this dentist so much from my Lion Dental Clinic review on City-Cost.com
It is located within minutes walk of the West exit of Kawagoe station. There are free parking spaces for up to 15 cars. They have a kids play area. Kids also get a toy on leaving the dentists. One of the dental booths can fit a buggy or stroller. The booths are bright and colourful and have flatscreen TVs which plays cartoons for kids, news programmes for adults. If you need any work done, you can get it done then and there, or you can make an appointment for another day. They do implants. They have equipment for taking scans. Every patient can receive fluorine coating for free. They are open until 8.30 pm. I have saved the best for last: the dentists and dental nurses are very skilled, very patient and thorough, and some of them speak English. One has international accreditation. My 3 year old was terrified of going to the dentist and wouldn’t open her mouth at first. I was suitably impressed by her dentist’s patience and technique. She even said after, she wants to go again.
If only I had a video of my 22 month old child’s reaction when she entered this cafe. It was classic. She squealed with delight and danced on her toes. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who doesn’t have any pets at home, but want to give their kids an experience with animals or animal therapy. An excerpt from my Neko Katsu City-Cost Review;
There were more cats than I had expected and they all seemed quite placid. Because they are rescued cats they do ask that you don’t force a cuddle with them. If the cat is in the mood for a cuddle then it is fine to hold them. They have some toys that cats enjoy that you can use to play with the cats. The room is quite basic with only one or two seats and a few poufs, but it is not a cafe in the typical sense. You do get a drink included with the charge. Due to the fact that it is a cat cafe they are bottled drinks or juice packets. You help yourself from a decent selection in a fridge. Children under twelve are half price. They have a decent stamp card, one stamp per visit and if you get 5 stamps you get an hour free. You can actually adopt a cat if you become attached to one.
MDT Cafe and Dining
We finished the day with an ice-cream sundae for the kids and a latte art for me, in a 1950s style American diner. It looked like a nice place for drinks with a couple of friends. Unfortunately, due to its size it wouldn’t be suited for a big group. An excerpt from my MDT City-Cost review:
The rock and roll music adds to the ambience. I quite enjoyed listening to half the Grease film album and classics such as Footloose, Johnny Be Good, Shake Rattle and Roll to name, but a few. The menu is mixed. The billboard outside says that it is a taco rice cafe. They offer a lunch menu, a cafe menu and a night time menu. They have a good selection of beer, including locally brewed Coedo Beer and some foreign beer such as Heineken. We went for a Ice-cream sundae to share, and boy am I glad we were sharing; it was huge. Myself and 2.5 kids (the 1 year old didn’t eat much) struggle to finish the delicous Berry Sundae we ordered. I also ordered a latte art. They have a selection of latte flavours and I think you can also get art on other coffee based beverages. I was very touched, by the picture the Barista drew for me. He drew my 3 girls on the coffee around the words “Welcome” with today’s date. A small, but very touching gesture. They do plate art for birthdays. Within the shop there are lots of collectible toys.
The kids were on a high coming home, but not too tired thankfully. They agreed they want to go back to all the places we visited today… including the dentists! For hours and average costs, please visit the City-Cost.com articles linked.
How did you spend your last day of summer holidays? Please do share in the comments below.
There is a huge choice of cafes in Kawagoe, too many for one article. Part 1 introduces THREE of my favourites, simply chosen for the first article as they are the ones I visited most recently. The featured photo with the parasols is the last entry; Tsubakiya. Each of these 3 cafes are mapped in a My Map at the bottom of the article.
1. Hatsuneya Garden The Cafe
For a bit of peace and quiet off the beaten track awaits a chic cafe with a terrace at the front and a garden from the Edo period at the back. The cakes are delicious and the coffee strong. It is a place you can visit alone or on a date or with friends. Take out is also available.
Average price: about 600 yen per beverage or cake Hours: 11 am to 6 pm seven days a week
Shimano Tea Room has won a place in my heart as it reminds me of tearooms I visited with family during my childhood in Dublin. The servers are dressed in the old traditional wear of black tights, black dresses and white frill aprons. They even wear the white laced head piece. The selection of tea is fantastic too and their sandwiches are decent. I recommend trying the tea here, but if it’s not your thing they also have coffee and soft drinks.
Average price: Tea averages at 580 yen a pot (about 3 cups to a pot) Hours: 10 am to 6 pm on weekdays and 9 am to 7 pm on weekends
Enjoy a foot spa with your tea, coffee, soft drink or beer in the small zen garden with beautiful Japanese parasols. You can enjoy a speciality of Kawagoe, sweet potato, in the form of a light treat, or an original ginger ale made from kochi ginger. The small cafe, seating only 8 people, is located out the back of Tsubaki no Kura, a colourful and unique souvenir, trinket and amulet store. This shop is on the main tourist strip and is serviced by tourist and public buses. It is mapped on the Google map at the bottom of the article.
Average Price: from 400 yen for a beverage, from 680 yen for alcohol, from 350 yen for a snack
Hours: 10 am to 7 pm on weekdays and until 8 pm on weekends
There are many more fun, unique, quaint, chic and cozy cafes in Kawagoe. I hope to feature more over the coming weeks. If you have a favourite or a place you’d like to share, please do comment. Comments are always welcome. 🙂
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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
UPDATE MARCH 25TH: The 2017 March 26th will most likely be cancelled due to the expectation of SNOW!
Kawagoe is just 31 minutes from Ikebukuro, Tokyo, on the Tobu Tojo line (jump to access from Tokyo). It is a popular tourist town. One of Kawagoe’s most spectacular spots to enjoy “sakura” is out the back of Hikawa shrine, where the cherry blossoms line the Shingashi River. Until recent years it was mainly locals and off-the-beaten-track tourists who enjoyed its splendour, but nowadays the cherry blossom attract thousands of admirers. One of the reasons is you can get a photo of a paddle boat being steered down the river under the blossoms, by a man in a festival happi coat and a traditional sugegasa hat. The image above is an official photo from Hikawa Shrine’s Facebook page.
Currently, the boat ride isn’t accessible to the general public, but on April 2nd 2016 it will be from noon until 6pm (2017 the date is rumoured to be March 29th, was set for April 2nd and then changed to MARCH 26TH). Tickets will be distributed, subject to availability, from in front of the Kita Kominkan on the far side of the bridge to the Hikawa shrine back entrance. They are marked on a map I made below the access map.
Here are some photos of the sakura I took on March 30th 2016.
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 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
Shingashi River and the free parking area:
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.
There are two main ways you can celebrate the blooming of cherry Â blossoms in Japan; hanami,Â which involves picnicking under a cherry tree, or aÂ Sakura matsuri, literallyÂ cherry blossom festival. Â â¦
Isanuma park in Kawagoe is a popular spot to enjoy Hanami for locals.ãThere are cherry blossoms along the river at the playground as well as cherry blossoms lining the street that separates the lakâ¦
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/
Isanuma park in Kawagoe is a popular spot to enjoy Hanami for locals. There are cherry blossoms along the river at the playground as well as cherry blossoms lining the street that separates the lake from the park. We have enjoyed hanami (picnic under the cherry blossom) along the river under the beautiful blooms. End of March and the first week of April is usually a good time to see the cherry blossoms and enjoy hanami in this park in Kawagoe.