Tag Archives: things to do in saitama

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.

A Pirate Paradise, athletic playground in Shinrin Park

My little pirates were very excited about this find in Shinrin koen today. The age guideline on it is from 6 up, but both my toddlers (3 and 2 years old) could manage it and thoroughly enjoyed it. The area around it is padded, but children under 6 would need close supervision.

Best of Saitama | Maruyama Park, AGEO

Maruyama park is frequently listed in Saitama’s top 3 list of parks. It is personally one of my favourites.  I love that although the park isn’t massive, there is so much to do and see that you can spend a full day there. I particularly like that they have swings that toddlers can sit into with back and stomach support, which is a rarity in this area of Saitama.  The facilities and attractions in the park, even the zoo corner, are completely free.  Another benefit for families with young children is that the (free) parking is off road and right beside the toddler friendly playground. The only downside is that unless you drive, access is a bit difficult.  There is a bus from Ageo station (details below), but it is infrequent and often packed.

 




 

2013/11/18 13:41It is very pretty in the Spring, first with plum blossoms then with cherry blossoms. It is a popular place to do “Hanami” (Flower viewing picnic).  In summer the wading streams, fireflies and beetles draw families from afar. In Autumn many photographers come to capture the leaves vibrant colours.  You can collect acorns in early winter. On a rainy day you can enjoy free access to the nature education hall. The activities you can enjoy all year round are listed below.

 

 

 

Features

  • Lake, pond and other water features
  • A small “zoo” with petting hour
  • Playground
  • 23 metre roller slide
  • Adventure playground
  • Climbing wall
  • Large cement slide
  • BBQ Area
  • Fishing
  • Firefly dome
  • Nature Education Hall

2013/ 9/21 11:16Facilities

  • ☆Toilets in 3 different locations, each with a special needs toilet with changing mat
  • ☆Water drinking fountains
  • ☆Taps for washing your feet beside the wading river and ones for washing your hands in the petting zoo area
  • ☆A small shop that is open on weekends and holidays

Information

  • The park is open permanently
  • The zoo corner is open from 9am to 4pm; closed on Tuesdays
  • Petting hour is Wednesday through Sunday from 10 to 11am and 13.30 to 14.30 on Saturdays and holidays. In Winter (Dec through Feb) it is from 13.30 to 14.30 Wednesday through Sunday.
  • Free Parking for 500 cars

Access

3326 Hirakata, Ageo, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

TEL: 048-781-0163

From JR Ageo Station;

Tobu bus for terminal “Maruyama Park”; West Exit No. 6 bus
City bus “Gurutto-kun” for hirakata-zyunkan; West Exit. Alight at “Maruyama Koen
Minamiguchi” bus stop or “Shizen gakusyu-kan iriguchi” bus stop

 

 

Baby colds on Daddy’s 2nd day off

Play-a-day, day 2. Toys-r-us, Kawagoe.

Written Oct 21, 2012. Jan 29, 2017 Toysrus on R254 closed its doors for good.

Since we brought our newborn home 3 weeks ago my husband has only had two full days off, this being the second full day.  As he is self-employed in a rare skill he has to work whenever there are orders in.  Which is a lot lately.

Given that he is off it would be nice to do something as a family, but everyone except me have head colds.  Yes, baby has her second cold in less than 2 weeks; two colds in her 3 weeks and 5 days of life.  Poor little thing. So much for having some immunity left over from the womb and so much for breastfed babies not getting as sick as often as bottle fed babies.  Anyway, I needed to get some practical shopping done, so the only solution was to leave baby with Daddy.  The two toddlers are also sick, but they are on the mend.  They were delighted to hear that Mammy was bringing them to Toysrus.  Our Toysrus is only 8 minutes away according to the timer in the car. (What a great function to have in a car, I use it all the time!)  I usually save outings to Toysrus with the kids in tow to rainy days, but today isn’t a usual day.  The weather is gorgeous though so we will go out to a park later in the afternoon.

Our local Babies-r-us has designated play areas with toys laid out for the kids to play with freely, but the Toys-r-us doesn’t have a set play area. The staff in Toysrus are much more laid back than staff of toy shops at home.  They let children ride the bikes and the cars and play with the toys that don’t come in packaging.   I didn’t actually take any photos today, but below are some photos of the kids playing that I’ve taken on previous trips to Toysrus.

The kids had a great time, the only thing is when I went to pay for the shopping my 3 year old wanted me to buy him something. I tell them before we go that we won’t be buying any toys, but it doesn’t stop my son from asking.  He’s normally fine, but both he and his one year old sister have had tantrums in the past.  They were on separate occasions, but they both did the same thing; lay tummy down on the floor and flailed their arms and legs!  It doesn’t put me off going back though, they have loads of fun there and burn off loads of energy!