Folks visiting Tokyo who want to see more of traditional Japan can either visit Asakusa or Kawagoe - situated only 31 mins from JR Ikebukuro on the Tobu Tojo Line - or an hour 30 min drive from central Tokyo. If you are going by train then get off at Honkawagoe Station [本川越駅] and make your way towards the following spot on the map below.
The address to copy paste into your mobile is 川越市幸町15-7
Kawagoe was originally a castle town of the Kawagoe clan. Many buildings still stand after many centuries surviving the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and bombings in 1945.
The 1923 earthquake pretty much devastated Tokyo where 105,000 died in the magnitude 7.9 - 8.4 quake that lasted over 4 minutes. Pics of Tokyo taken at the time can be seen at Wikipedia.
Then Tokyo was re-devastated again in the B29 bombings where another 100,000 people were killed - photos of re-devastated Tokyo at Tokyo Uni.
Before we start to trek around for the day, we grab lunch after the drive from Tokyo.
Brought up on potatoes in the UK, I just love fried potatoes.
Then its time to walk around town. This is the area around Ichiban Gai and is lined with surviving buildings. The oldest building on the street dates back to 1792.
Would have been lovely if they pedestrianized the area.
More traditional buildings.
Rickshaws have been and still is a popular method of getting around - but only for the tourists.
Kawagoe has many modern buildings too and it was interesting to see the old rubbing against the new.
Many shops selling Japanese craft stuffs.
I remember picking up one of these when I first visited Japan - its a bell that tinkles in the breeze - you will kinda feel like you are in Japan if you get one and stick it by your window to let the breeze hit it.
Love the traditional roofs.
Some sweets in the shape of sushi.
More sweets in the shape of bento boxes.
Many shrines are to be found in the area too.
Bring a big bag with you if you like traditional Japanese snacks as they have just about all of them.
Pikachu, Doraemon and Hello Kitty official sweeties?
Dried squid and other snacks.
Hello Pritty and Pikadoo.
Cute girlies everywhere selling foodstuffs.
Traditional and modern meet again.
Getting some ramen.
Girls n drums look great together.
The 500 Statues of Rakan at the Kita-in shrine.
Water at the entrance to the shrine for you to purify yourself before you enter.
Some folks relaxing on a sunny afternoon doing some sketching.
To folks who visited Japan - what do you generally do? Is it mostly shopping and spending time walking around the cities or do you try to get more traditional Japan too?
Same question for folks who are planning to come over - what is on your to-do list?
One the way back to Tokyo. Kawagoe is pretty much in the sticks so you can see rice paddys everywhere.
Stopping by a river to take in the evening breeze.
More places to visit in Japan listed up below.