Information for the Akamagawa Floating lantern night at Ishihara Mokkokan Cafe and Retro showroom in Kawagoe City. But first information about Mokkokan;
Mokkokan is a small mall of eateries, a gallery “Ishihara Mokkokan”, workshops (/classes), a housing company and a small showroom of retro goods! It is near the Penny Candy Alley area of Kawagoe. Despite its location it is somewhat off the beaten track and mainly enjoyed by locals. There are two reasons for this. One is that it is not on many of the tourist / history walking maps for Kawagoe. The other is that the two main facilities there do not have websites. For these reasons though, the cafe and showroom are never too busy and have more of a local than touristy feel.
When I first wrote this post in 2018 there was a cafe “Mokkokan Cafe Terrace” also known as “Mokko Cafe” in the main building of Mokkokan. That closed during the pandemic. Until the summer of 2021 it was temporarily a sunglasses shop. It was renovated and reopened as “Koedo Bon Appetit”. I have left the original information below as the building is still the same although the name and menu is different. I did remove the menu section as it is no applicable.
The former Mokkokan Cafe Terrace now Koedo Bon Appetit
Named after the wood workshop across the river, the Mokkokan or (former) Mokko Cafe (now Koedo Bonappetit) is the main building in the courtyard. It is a fun building that is hard to miss with the carp on the side of the building and Styrofoam art displays outside. One of the styrofoam is a large white rabbit. The other a laughing man in a barrel. (Subject to change: the styrofoam art in Kawagoe moves around a lot!) The appearance of the exterior alone is enough to get kids excited, but if they’re anything like my kids they will love it even more when they see that they have their own little door to enter, separate to the main door.
Contrary to the external appearance the interior of the cafe has little in the way of visual entertainment and is more a mid century modern look with its green painted sand plaster walls, wooden paneling and natural floors. They have some wooden puzzles showcased in the cafe, they are the work of the wood workshop across the way. You can buy them in the restaurant if you inquire in the reception area.
Separate to the eating area, behind some sliding doors, they have a little reading area with lots of children books. They also have a collection of Showa period children records that you can request to listen to. These records that were hugely popular in the Showa period still delight children today. The records themselves have illustrative photos on them.
※Menu and food photos / information removed as they have changed since the restaurant became Koedo Bon Appetit.
Retro goods showroom
Located behind Mokko Cafe with its entrance to the left of the main entrance to the cafe is the “Chotto Mukashi Kurashi No Dogu Koya「ちょっと昔くらしの道具小屋 」. The literal English translation is quite difficult equating something like a Tool Shed of Life A While Ago, so I pained over a description that was more explanatory. The best I could come up with is that it is a showroom of retro goods.
Basically it is a large room, about the size of a 16 tatami mat room, full of items from the Showa, Taisho and even Edo period. There are household items as well as traditional craftsmen items and a great range of toys, including a life size Gundam WB102. It is free to enter and peruse, but currently is generally only open on weekends and public holidays. A sample of what is on show:
Akamagawa Floating Lanterns
On the same night as the Kawagoe Fireworks (which are sold out) there is a floating lantern festival in the tourist area of Kawagoe City. The 5th annual Akamagawa Floating Lantern Night will be on August 20th 2022. The reception area for the lanterns is Mokkokan and the lanterns are floated down the Shingashi / Akamagawa River from 7 pm.
The Akamagawa is a river in Saitama that merges into Shingashi River. Along this stretch is actually the Shingashi River, but the locals call it Akamagawa. There is even an Akamagawa park, near the festival site / Mokkokan. You can pick up a lantern to decorate from 1 pm that day (August 20th), at any of the facilities at Mokkokan. If you buy a lantern before the festival it costs 300 yen, on the day it costs 500 yen.
When I first wrote this post there was no official information online, even in Japanese, for this location. However, there is now a page on the Kawagoe Tourism website.
The hours have been up in the air since the pandemic. Before the pandemic: Open Friday to Tuesday between 10 am and 5 pm. Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays. They have a party room upstairs which can be used from 6 pm, but only if it has been booked in advance.
Mokkokan cafe is approximately 60 meters from the new end of Kashiya Yokocho or Penny Candy Alley. That is the end heading away from the tourist district, that was recently rebuilt after a fire burnt down the original buildings. If you leave Penny Candy Alley with it to your back and turn left you will come to a bridge. Cross over the bridge and take the first left after the bridge, you will see Mokkokan on your right hand side.
Free parking available for about 10 cars.