(This is a very late post about my adventure for my 29th birthday last February. )
On my 29th birthday, I have decided to explore Saitama’s famous Little Edo in Kawagoe City. It was a little over an hour of commute from Toyoda Station to Honkawagoe Station, with at least three transfers.
Little Edo (小江戸) was actually just a long stretch of road in Kawagoe known for it’s historical bell tower (時の鐘) and the shops with Edo Period architecture and design.
For my first stop, I went to the Kawagoe Kita-In Temple, a 10-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station.
Of course, I couldn’t resist getting a temple stamp. So, while I was waiting for the stamp, I decided to explore the Edo Palace buildings – which were the remaining halls moved from the original palace many years ago.
Kita-In Temple is also the home of the 500 Buddhist Statues (五百羅漢). This small area contains 540 statues of the disciples of Buddha, all with differently unique expressions and poses.
To access the statue courtyard, you will first need to buy a ticket at the temple office. For about ￥1000, you can explore the Edo Palace halls and see the statues of the disciples of Buddha.
My next stop was the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine.
This shrine was especially famous to couples. When I went there, there was a long line of couples waiting to pray or give thanks. Since I don’t have a partner, I decided to skip the worship at this place and instead explore the sakura-lined riverbank just outside.
It was winter when I visited, so the trees were still bare. But I can just imagine what it would look like in the spring: so pink! I thought about coming back during the blossom season, unfortunately I had to go to Manila and wasn’t able to return in time. Maybe I’ll try again next year.
When I finally went to Koedo, it felt like I went back in time. The roads were cobbled stones, and the shops all had that old-world atmosphere. Even the Starbucks used wood as main material for their shop!
Of course, I had to step inside for coffee and cake (it’s my birthday!) The interior was a mix of old and new. But the best part was the Japanese garden at the back.
Even though it was quite a windy day, I chose to quietly celebrate my birthday at the Starbucks garden. LOL. It was a peaceful and relaxing celebration.
After my coffee break, I went outside to take some photos of the famous bell tower. I also saw a street artist selling some of his drawings. I decided to buy one as a gift for my self.
The artist, Matsuda-san, used a single 5.0 technical pen to draw all his art. Despite using only one type of pen, his pieces have depth and feeling, and were really wonderful to see. I was able to practice my Japanese speaking skills, too!
I bought the cheapest one he had for ￥1000, but when I told him that it was my birthday treat, he decided to give me one of the better drawings for the same price. The kindness of random people really made me smile. 🙂
After that, I walked around Koedo following the main road to Roman Street. On the way, I saw the Kawagoe Festival Museum which showcased the different materials used during the annual festival (October).
I spent some time inside the museum and went back on the road around 5pm. Little did I know that Koedo shops closes early. I planned to eat dinner in one of the restaurants around Roman Street, but everything was already closed by the time I got there.
I did see a shrine with this colorful facade:
And with that, my Koedo adventure came to an end. Here are some of the random stuff I saw while walking along the cobbled streets:
I plan to come back in October to watch the festival. I hope my work schedule would allow it. XD
Til next time!