Kawagoe, the “Little Edo”


About 30 minutes by train from downtown Tokyo, Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture is a must-visit place for a one day trip.

The town had close ties with Edo (present day Tokyo) because it was served as a main supplier of commodities. Kawagoe showcases the architecture of the capital during the Edo period (1603-1867) and it is known as “Little Edo” (Koedo). The same period Kawagoe Castle was the headquarters of the Kawagoe Domain under the Tokugawa shogunate.

The modern town of Kawagoe was created in1889. A large part of the town was destroyed in a fire in 1893 and was rebuilt with many structures using construction techniques of traditional kura warehouses. Kura are commonly durable buildings built from timber, stone or clay used to safely store valuable commodities.

Kawagoe’s local landmark is the Toki no kane” (Bell of Time), a clock tower originally built between 1624 and 1644. The current tower was built in 1893 after the Great Kawagoe Fire. It is a three-story tower (16 meters high) and has been telling time for 350 years. Currently, the bell can be heard four times a day at 6.00, 12.00, 15.00 and 18.00.

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Author – photographer. Co-founder of Japanbyweb.com.