As frequent travelers to Tokyo, Japan, we’re always looking for new places to visit. One place that we enjoyed visiting was Kawagoe in the Saitama Prefecture. It’s referred to as “Little Edo” as the building facades and local attractions retain their old town ambiance.
Although we only had one day in Kawagoe, it was the perfect day trip from Tokyo. It’s easy to get to Kawagoe and it is a much quieter town to explore with plenty of sightseeing activities. We also went on a weekday so it wasn’t too crowded.
With this Kawagoe day trip guide, we’re sharing the top things to do in Kawagoe, how to get to there, where to eat, and more. Many of the attractions are close together and within walking distance. Therefore, all you need to do is grab a map, walk around, and explore this adorable small town.
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How to Get to Kawagoe from Tokyo
Kawagoe is one of the easiest places to get to from Tokyo, which makes it a perfect day trip! The best way to get there is by taking the metro. Depending on where you’re staying in Tokyo, take the JR Yamanote line to Ikebukuro Station (池袋駅). From Ikebukuro Station, take the Tobu Tojo line to Kawagoe Station (川越駅). It’ll take about 30 minutes to get to Kawagoe via the Limited Express line.
Kawagoe Discount Pass
We highly recommend that you purchase the Kawagoe Discount Pass. The offer is only for visitors. Plus, you save time and money with this pass rather than buying a la carte. We’re all about efficiency and saving money.
All you have to do is show your pass to the metro and/or bus attendees. It’s important that you do not throw away or lose your pass. The pass is also a good souvenir as it’s printed on thick cardstock and looks cute.
There are two passes to choose from:
- Discount Pass covers the round trip metro ride only from Ikebukuro Station to Kawagoe or Kawagoeshi Station via the Tobu Tojo Line. It also has special offers for certain shops. The cost is 710 yen ($6.50 USD) for adults and 370 yen ($3.40) for children.
- Discount Pass Premium covers the metro (round trip to/from Ikebukuro Station and also unlimited rides between Kawagoe and Kawagoeshi Station via the Tobu Tojo Line), Kawagoe city bus, and has special offers for certain shops. The cost is 970 yen ($8.80 USD) for adults and 490 yen ($4.50) for children.
Which Kawagoe Discount Pass Should You Choose?
It depends on how much you want to walk. From the Kawagoe Station to the main area, it’ll take about 30 minutes to walk there. Otherwise, the bus ride will take about 10 minutes. There are 7 different bus lines to take through the city that can be boarded from the Kawagoe Station East Exit.
We purchased the Discount Pass Premium and felt that it was worth the price. The metro price from Ikebukuro to Kawagoe costs 480 yen ($4.40) per person per way (adult) and a one-way price for the bus starts at 180 yen ($1.60) for each ride. With the return trip and just one bus ride, you’ve already exceeded the value of the pass.
Since we visited in mid-November the weather was cooler and the evening was very chilly so the bus was great to keep us warm for the ride.
Where to Purchase the Kawagoe Discount Pass
We purchased the tickets at Tobu Tojo counter in the Ikebukuro Station. It’s located next to the ticket gate entrance. You can also purchase at the Tobu Tourist Information Center at the Ikebukuro Station Basement Floor 1 (B1) level or the Tobu Top Tours kiosk at the Ikebukuro Station.
Recommended Things to Do In Kawagoe For Your Day Trip
Now that you’ve arrived, it’s time to explore this area. Check out our recommendations on what to do in Kawagoe. We recommend having a good pair of walking shoes as you’ll reach your daily step goal easily! If you take the bus, it’ll reduce your walking time.
1. Shop and eat along the main Kurazukuri shopping street.
Once you exit the Kawagoe Station, it’ll take you about 30 minutes (or 10 minutes by bus) to walk to the main Kurazukari shopping street (also known as the Warehouse District). You’ll notice the old buildings and traditional houses that look straight out of the Edo period (1603-1868). While you can save the shopping to the end of your trip, you’ll pass by many shops selling soft-serve ice cream (some have ice cream with the gold flakes – so fancy), fresh senbei (toasted rice crackers), grilled mochi, souvenirs (the Kawagoe sweet potato mascot is adorable), tea, and more so you can see what you can buy later in the day. If you like Totoro paraphernalia, there is a Totoro store too.
Tip: Many of the stores close early, between 5:00pm-6:00pm, so don’t wait too long to shop.
Address: Along Saiwaicho, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0063, Japan
How to Get There: Walk about 30 minutes from the Kawagoe Station. You can also take any of the bus lines (W1-1 to W1-7 (No. 1-7) and get off between W4 to W9 stops or T1 (No. 3) and get off at between T2-T14 stops
2. Visit the popular Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine.
Hikawa Shrine (氷川神社) is a must-see place during your Kawagoe one day itinerary. This popular yet small shrine dedicated to five deities – Susanoo no Mikoto, Kushinadahime no Mikoto, Ashinazuchi no Mikoto, Tenazuchi no Mikoto, and Oonamuchi no Mikoto (son of Susanoo no Mikoto and Kushinadahime no Mikoto). Since two couples are worshipped, and these deities are known for matchmaking and good luck to families.
To enter the shrine, you’ll pass through an impressive 15 meters (42 feet) high orange torii gate, which is considered one of the tallest in Japan.
It’s a picturesque temple as we saw a few people wearing kimonos. They can also place ema (wooden prayer plate) along the walking path. During sunset, it’s a beautiful sight to see the sun peeking through the roof of the walking path and shining on the prayer plates.
As with any shrines in Japan, you have the chance to get some good luck. At Hikawa Shrine, visitors can use a small fishing rod to fish for the “lucky fish fortune.” You’ll get your fortune inside of the fish. You can also purchase a matchmaking charm too.
The back of the shrine area is a canal with a river passing through. We can see this area as a fabulous place to view cherry blossoms.
Address: 2 Chome-11-3 Miyashitamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0052, Japan (〒350-0052 埼玉県川越市宮下町２丁目１１−3)
Opening Hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm
How to Get There: It’s a 20-minute walk from the main walking street.
If taking the bus, there are three routes to consider:
- Take the W1-7 (No. 7 bus) and get off at W17 stop.
- Take the T1 (No. 3) and get off at T8 stop.
- Take the W1-1 (No. 1), W1-2 (No. 2), and W1-5 (No. 5), get off of W9 stop and walk for 10 minutes.
3. Stop by the Kitain Temple.
Kitain Temple (川越大師 喜多院) (also referred to as Kawagoe Daishi) is a small 1200 year old Buddhist temple area where people pray to Jie Daishi, who is known to be a protector. As the remaining buildings of the Edo Castle, this is a lovely temple with the red pagoda and main hall. The main walking area is open to the public. If you wish to explore further into the temple area, you’ll need to pay a small fee.
Another popular place to visit is the Gohyakhu Rakan which has 538 statues of Buddhas’ disciples. They were carved between 1782 to 1825 and each of the Buddhas has different facial features. It’s on the temple grounds but requires a separate admission fee (which is combined with your temple visit). Since we arrived during the sunset, the entrance was already closed.
Address: 1 Chome-20-1 Kosenbamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0036, Japan (〒350-0036 埼玉県川越市小仙波町１丁目２０−1)
Opening Hours: 8:50am to 4:30pm (March – mid-November) and 8:50am to 4:00pm (mid-November to February)
Admission: 400 yen ($3.60 USD) for adults, 200 yen ($1.80) for junior high students to explore inside the main temple and rakan
How to Get There: It’s a 10-minute walk from the main walking street. If taking the bus, take the T1 (No. 3) and get off of the T2 stop.
4. Visit the neighboring Naritasan Kawagoe Betsuin.
Located next to the Kitain Temple is the Naritasan Kawagoe Betsuin (成田山川越別院（本行院)). It’s a small Buddhist temple founded in 1853 where the Shoon Ishikawa regained his eyesight after coming here. It’s known to have a flea market every month. While this place is nice, we prefer the larger Kitain Temple as this place has only one building.
Address: 9-2 Kubomachi, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0055, Japan (〒350-0055 埼玉県川越市久保町９−2)
Opening Hours: 8:00am to 4:00pm
How to Get There: It’s a 10-minute walk from the main walking street. If taking the bus, take the T1 (No. 3) and get off the T3 stop.
5. Grab a snack at Kashiya Yocho (Candy Alley).
If you need some sweets or a snack break, head to Kashiya Yokocho (菓子屋横丁), also known as Candy Alley. It’s a small alleyway where traditional shops sell hard candies and other sweet potato snacks. Kawagoe is famous for its sweet potato so you’ll see sweet potato steamed buns, baguettes, and cakes. Some places offer samples of their sweet potato products.
Address: 2 Chome Motomachi, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0062, Japan (〒350-0062 埼玉県川越市元町２丁目)
Opening Hours: No set time but shops will close in the evenings.
How to Get There: You can take any of the bus lines, W1-1 to W1-6 (No. 1-7), get off at the W8 stop, and walk a few minutes. Or, you can take the T1 (No. 3) and off at the T11 stop.
6. Visit the Toki no Kane (Time Bell Tower).
This is the famous Toki no Kane (時の鐘), also known as Time Bell Tower, built between 1627-1634. It’s been rebuilt many times due to fires. The latest rebuild was in 1893 to the current height of 16 meters (54 feet) high. It currently rings four times a day at 6:00am, 12:00pm, 3:00pm, and 6:00pm. In the back of the tower area, there is a small shrine and a garden area with an infinite loop artwork.
Address: 15-7 Saiwaicho, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0063, Japan (〒350-0063 埼玉県川越市幸町１５−7)
Opening Times: 24 hours
How to Get There: You can take any of the bus lines, W1-1 to W1-6 (No. 1-7), get off at the W7 stop, and walk a few minutes. Or, you can take the T1 (No. 3) and off at the T5 or T12 stop.
7. Admire the architecture at Starbucks.
We’re not coffee drinkers so you’re probably wondering why we’re recommending Starbucks. Opened in March 2018, this Starbucks has the unique architecture of a traditional Japanese house with a small garden in the back. It’s a minimalist yet elegant design that fits in within the Warehouse District.
If you don’t want coffee, there are other snack items to try along the street, such as thinly sliced sweet potato chips, mochi, and steamed buns.
Address: 15-18 Saiwaicho, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0063, Japan (〒350-0063 埼玉県川越市幸町１５−18)
Opening Times: 8:00am to 8:00pm
How to Get There: It’s a few steps away from the Toki no Kane.
8. Visit the Kumano Shrine.
We came across the Kumano Shrine (川越 熊野神社) during the end of our day in Kawagoe. At the entrance, guests have the opportunity to relieve stress in your feet by stepping over the stone rocks. Since you’ve done a lot of walking today, this is a type of foot massage and helps with circulation. We saw an older woman walk over the rocks slowly without any shoes on.
The shrine itself is along the main shopping street and you can easily stop by for a few minutes to admire it. On the right side of the shrine area, there is a prayer area of tiny ceramic swans on rocks. We’re not sure what the significance is but we’ve never seen so many ceramic swans in one location before.
Address: 17-1 Renjakucho, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0066, Japan (〒350-0066 埼玉県川越市連雀町１７−1)
Opening Hours: 9:30am to 5:00pm
How to Get There: If taking the bus, five lines that will take close to the shrine. Take the W1-1 to W1-7 (No. 1-7), get off of W4 stop, and walk two blocks.
9. Learn about the Kawagoe Matsuri Kaikan (Kawagoe Festival) at the museum.
The Kawagoe Matsuri Kaikan Museum (川越市蔵造り資料館) highlights the annual festival that takes place during the third weekend of October. In 2020, the festival takes place on October 17-18. You’ll learn more about the 370+ year history of the festival and the opportunity to see two beautiful floats used in previous festivals. We didn’t have a chance to visit this museum due to timing but we’ll check it out on a return visit.
Address: 2 Chome-1-10 Motomachi, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0062, Japan (〒350-0062 埼玉県川越市元町２丁目１−10)
Opening Hours: 9:30am to 6:00pm
Admission Cost: 300 yen (2.70 USD)
How to Get There: You can take any of the bus lines, W1-1 to W1-6 (No. 1-7), get off at the W8 stop, and walk. Or, you can take the T1 (No. 3) and off at the T11 stop. The museum will be very close to the stop.
What to Eat in Kawagoe
Luckily there is no shortage of restaurants and snack items when you’re in Kawagoe. We mentioned a few places above for you to snack your way through this city. For sit down restaurants, we tried the following restaurants below:
Ganja (頑者 本店) is a ramen chain known for their dipping ramen (tsukemen). While it may seem intimidating to wait in the long line during lunchtime, it goes by quickly. The best thing to order is tsukemen. Choose your size of noodles – regular has 230 grams of noodles while the medium probably around 300 grams of noodles. The soup base has a lot of umami flavor as it simmered for 10 hours with chicken and pork bones and fish soup made from dried bonito. It’s a delicious meal to warm up the body! The cost of a meal is between 900-1,300 yen ($8.20-$11.80 USD).
Address: 1 Chome-1-8 Shintomicho, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0043, Japan (〒350-0043 埼玉県川越市新富町１丁目１−8)
Opening Hours: 11:30am to 4:20pm (Closed on Sunday)
Vegetarian-Friendly: No, there aren’t any vegetarian items. The soup base is also made with pork and dashi (fish-based).
Payment: Cash only
Related: Top good eats in Japan
Ogakiku (うなぎ 小川菊) is one of the top places to eat grilled eel (unagi kabayaki) in Kawagoe. Opened in 1807, this family-owned restaurant only specializes in unagi. We’ve eaten a lot of unagi as we have a go-to unagi restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and had to try this place for ourselves for dinner.
We can say that this place deserves its recognition and buzz since the unagi is oh so delicious and well-prepared. The grilled eel was very moist and had a smooth texture. The thin layer of sauce brushed on top of the unagi was enough to give it the umami flavor yet not being overly saucy. The meal comes with pickles and a light soup made from eel liver.
This place is pricey but well worth the splurge. Choose from a regular (3,350 yen/$30.50 USD), large (4,000 yen/$36.50) or extra-large (5,250 yen/$48). We ordered the regular size and it was a good amount. However, we wouldn’t have a hard time finishing the extra-large!
If unagi isn’t your flavor, the restaurant also has grilled chicken with scrambled egg and ground chicken over rice (torikaba-sanshoku).
Address: 3-22 Nakacho, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-0065, Japan (〒350-0065 埼玉県川越市仲町３−22)
Opening Times: 11:00am to 2:00pm, 4:30pm to 7:30pm (Closed on Thursday)
Vegetarian-Friendly: No, the menu has grilled eel and chicken on the menu.
Payment: Cash only
Where to Stay in Kawagoe
Since Kawagoe is about 30 minutes away from the Ikebukuro Station if using the Limited Express line, you can use Tokyo as your main base. Click here to see accommodation options for all budgets in Tokyo.
If you’re interested in staying in Kawagoe overnight, here are some options to consider based on the budget and the reviews. For more Kawagoe accommodation options, click here to read reviews and make a reservation.
ちゃぶだい Guesthouse, Cafe & Bar – Located within the Kawagoe city center and close to Candy Alley, this place is great for single travelers. There are bunk beds in a mixed dorm with shared showers. Guests enjoy the friendly host. The cost is $35 USD per person per night. Reserve a room at ちゃぶだい Guesthouse here.
Guest House Cat – This low-key guesthouse and close to the Kawagoe Station. Guests enjoy the local tips and suggestions of things to do from the host. There is a choice of a twin room or triple room (sleep on tatami mats) with shared bathrooms. Twin room costs $75 per room per night. Triple room costs $90 per room per night. Click here to reserve a room at Guest House Cat.
Kawagoe Prince Hotel – This hotel is conveniently located next to the Honkawagoe Station and a few minutes away from the main attractions. Room cost is between $150-250 per room per night. Reserve a room at Prince Hotel here.
We hope you consider visiting Kawagoe as a day trip from Tokyo. It’s a fabulous place for you to experience what life was like back in the Edo period.
Check out our other posts on thing to do in the Tokyo area:
- Spend a day in Yokohama or Kamakura
- Visit Mount Takao for hiking
- Check out the Unko Museum
- Spend the day at Sanrio Puroland
- Visit Narita
What would you like to see at Kawagoe? Let us know in the comments below.
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Featured photo & pin photo credit: konseki1 via Scopio Photos