【The Second Vol.】 A Close Look of the “Kawagoe Exploration” with the Two Winners of the “Japan Monitoring Trip”!
The special gift of “2 nights & 3 days Japan Monitoring Tour” for two people collaborating with Seibu Railway and the City of Kawagoe in Saitama prefecture. This is the second part of the trip report with the winning pair; Evita and Chin, both from Taiwan. Now that they are visiting the “Kurazukuri Zone(Old storehouse Zone)”, you will get to know Kawagoe more deeply.
＜11:30 a.m.＞Strolling around Kurazukuri Zone: munch local specialties and shop for souvenirs
Once they stepped into the town of warehouses, what the girls saw were the historically important buildings on parade. In fact, in this area, there are more than 20 old buildings that were once used as merchant houses. As a whole they create such a nostalgic atmosphere.
One way to enjoy the Kurazukuri Zone Street is to look for souvenirs and munch on snacks such as senbei and dango which are sold in front of the historical buildings.
The “Mitarashi-dango” available on the street are made with sweet potatoes, a local specialty. So popular are they that they have even been featured in Japanese TV shows.
There are also many varieties of Japanese souvenirs available. One example is pairs of chopsticks made with the greatest of attention to details.
＜12 p.m.＞Excitement over “Dashi” at Kawagoe Matsuri Museum
While strolling down the area, the girls made a stop at one curious-looking place. It was the “Kawagoe Matsuri (festival) Museum”. As its name implies, this is a folk museum where visitors can see, listen to and feel the historical “Kawagoe Festival”. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, the girls decided to go in. The admission fee is 300 JPY for an adult.
【Address】2-1-10 Moto-machi, Kawagoe City
In the museum, there are two “Dashi (festival floats)” on display. These floats are actually used in the Kawagoe Festival. The girls were so excited at the sight of these spectacular floats.
＜1 p.m.＞Unagi for lunch at “Hayashi-ya”
Having been walking around all morning, the girls were quite hungry by now. It was around lunch time, so they headed to the restaurant, “Hayahi-ya”. The whole city of Kawagoe is notable for “Unagi (eels)” dishes. Among the many places that offer unagi meals, Hayashi-ya is especially famous for their fine flavors.
【Address】2-4 Naka-cho, Kawagoe City
This was the first time for the girls to try unagi, but they seemed to like it. They were confident that many Taiwanese would surely like this dish.
＜2 p.m.＞Try was experiencing wearing “Kimono”
Satisfied and full after their meals, the next thing they wanted to try was experiencing wearing “Kimono”; the traditional Japanese wear. So, they visited “Henshin-dokoro・Vivian”. This is a famous spot for many international travelers, and the staff is used to helping foreigners. For a day rental of kimono, the price starts at 2,000 JPY.
【Address】14－15 Saiwai-cho, Kawagoe City
The first thing for the girls to do was to choose their favorite kimono. With the advice given by shop staff, they were able to find one that they liked. Coincidently, both of them chose a kimono that was pink-themed.
After choosing a kimono, next comes the hair-do. When wearing kimonos, women with long hair are supposed to have their hair in an up-do. Shop staff can do it for you.
After the hair is done, next comes putting on the kimono. This also can be done by shop staff. As for the girls, they started to appear more and more elegant as their looks got closer to completion. This must be the magic of wearing kimonos.
Finally finished! They both looked really good in kimonos.
Exploring the Kurazukuri Street again wearing kimonos. Kimonos are the perfect match with the historical views of the town. In fact, you may feel like you have slipped into classical Japan.
＜2:30 p.m.＞Explore Kuranomachi Street in a “Jinrikisha”
Walking along the Kurazukuri Zone, the girls came across a jinrikisha (a two-wheeled passenger vehicle with a fold-down top pulled by a person), another item that fits perfectly with kimonos. The combination of historic township, kimonos and jinrikisha is something that is very special and unique in Kawagoe. On a whim, they decided to give it a try. The fare for the ride starts at 6,000 JPY for a 30 minute ride.
Looking good in the jinrikisha dressed in kimonos. That explains why some of the people who came across them on the street mistook them for real fashion models.
An absolutely splendid match with the “Saitama Risona Bank: Kawagoe Branch” building. This Renaissance-style building has a history of approximately 100 years. It’s an irresistible photo shoot spot!
Of course, you cannot miss taking some pictures in front of the “Toki no Kane (time bell tower)”; the symbolic architecture of Kawagoe. The kimonos, the jinrikisha and the tower, which boasts a history of approximately 390 years, were in perfect harmony and together they attracted the attention of many people walking along the street.
While observing the girls enjoying their jinrikisha ride, one thing came to the editor’s mind. That was, we wanted to take pictures of the girls in “Kashiya Yokocho(Penny Candy Zone)”, a street that has approx. 20 different sweets and candy shops. The collaboration of the girls in the jinrikisha along with the atmosphere of the street was more than we expected. In fact, it was so beautiful that we witnessed some elementary school students on a school trip just staring at the scene without saying a word.
＜3:30 p.m.＞Enjoy dessert in “Kanmi-Sabou Kasuga”
The last destination of the trip after saying good bye to the jinrikisya was a café called “Kanmi-Sabou Kasuga”. Well suited to the Koedo surroundings, the café is located in a Kurazukuri style building that is 120 years old. Here you can enjoy traditional Japanese sweets including simple “Yaki-dango (baked-dango)”, “Kuzukiri (starch noodles)” and “Sweet potato Anmitsu (a Japanese dessert of small cubes of agar jelly topped with red beans paste and various fruits) parfait”. The flavors of their dessert are delicious and not overly rich. In addition, the flavors are somehow dignified and will remind you of good-old times in Japan.
【Address】6-1 Saiwai-cho, Kawagoe City
For today’s dessert, Evita chose the sweet potato anmitsu parfait and Chin chose a set of two sticks of odango and kuzukiri. The experience of savoring Japanese desserts in the kimonos was something new and exciting for them.
After leaving the café Kasuga, the girls returned the kimonos and headed back to Hon-Kawagoe station. Using the “SEIBU RAIL PASS” that they purchased the day before, they planned to return to Seibu Shinjuku station. Reflecting on their trip to Kawagoe, they both seemed pretty content with it. Evita said, “More than anything, the architecture was so beautiful and I liked the atmosphere of the town. I will definitely recommend the town to my friends in Taiwan too”. To them, it was a bonus point that Kawagoe was only an hour ride by a train from the Tokyo metropolitan area. They got on a yellow train of Seibu Railway and told us that they would come back to Kawagoe again for sure.
To the readers of this article: Would you like to try exploring Kawagoe for yourselves?