Today we take a short trip to Kawagoe, a town known as “Little Edo.” Its area of old merchant warehouses and bell tower brings you a little bit closer to a bygone era.
Obligatory arrival shot on the platform of JR Kawagoe Station.
We leave the station, making our way through Kawagoe’s more typical small-town streets.
Our first destination, Ogakiku. Although winter isn’t really the time for unagi, we can’t pass up an opportunity to try out this highly-rated restaurant. The picture of the storefront shows how the restaurant looks in between lunch and dinner hours.
However, during business hours the outside is a little more crowded. We take our spot at the end of the line and wait for lunch.
Surprisingly it doesn’t take too long to be seated. We order the regular-size grilled eel set which comes with a side of pickled vegetables and a clear soup made with eel liver. Pretty delicious!
After lunch we head over to the Kitain temple grounds.
Kitain has a few interesting things to check out, including a wonderful two-story pagoda.
Portions of Edo castle were moved here to help rebuild when fire destroyed the temple. After the Great Kanto earthquake and World War II, these are the only buildings that remain of the castle.
Perhaps the coolest part of Kitain lies just beyond this souvenir and snack station.
The 500 Statues of Rakan represent the disciples of Buddha. Technically there are 540 individual carvings, and just like snowflakes no two are alike. Among the statues are twelve special ones that include an animal from the Chinese zodiac. Find your zodiac animal, touch the statue and make a small offering to receive blessings for a happy life. So let’s go hunting!
Found mine: the rabbit.
And here’s the wife’s: the dragon.
After receiving our blessings from the Buddhas, we walk to the area know for its kurazukuri, or old storehouses.
The street almost seems to divide the modern buildings from the old ones.
Lots of treats being sold along the storefronts.
When will people learn that you shouldn’t feed tanuki, and coins at that.
The streets bustle with crowds at every shop. Girls and guys alike try out wearing yukata around town.
Toki no kane, the old bell tower, stands as the symbol of the town. Literally meaning the Bell of Time, it rings out four times a day at 6am, 12pm, 3pm, and 6pm.
True to its name, kurazukuri street is lined with old storehouses, most retrofitted with shops and food stalls. The clay exteriors gives the area its distinctive old-Edo feel.
We stop inside a little museum to check out the inside.
While the street side view is somewhat utilitarian…
The back area is a pleasant tatami room bathed in warm sunlight.
Back outside and down a side street to enjoy some sweet potato ice cream. We get there just in time, as a crowd starts to form behind us.
After eating, we return to the station, stopping along the way to try out some foot therapy. Essentially a sidewalk with various patterns of stones embedded in it, walking on them is supposed to help with different ailments. Overall, kind of painful.
Kawagoe, on the other hand, was an enjoyable experience. A nice, quick trip out of Tokyo for the day.