kawagoe day trip from tokyo
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kawagoe day trip from tokyo : An Awesome Day Trip From Tokyo

kawagoe day trip from tokyo

Looking for a day trip from Tokyo? Kawagoe day trip from Tokyo is the perfect location! Kawagoe. is an amazingly preserved old castle town just 30 minutes from Tokyo, is one of the best day trips you can take from Japan’s capital. With its nostalgic atmosphere, traditional warehouses, temples, shrines, festivals, and nickname “Little Edo,” Kawagoe offers a magical glimpse into historic Japan.

This complete guide covers everything you need to know to plan the ultimate day trip to Kawagoe from Tokyo, including:

  • Why Visit Kawagoe on a Day Trip from Tokyo
  • How to Get to Kawagoe from Tokyo
  • Best Time to Visit Kawagoe
  • Kawagoe Day Trip Itinerary
  • Things to Do in Kawagoe
  • Kawagoe Festival
  • Where to Eat in Kawagoe
  • Where to Stay in Kawagoe
  • Tips for Visiting Kawagoe

I want your Kawagoe trip to be absolutely legendary, so I’m hooking you up with tips like arrive early to beat the crowds, rent a kimono for maximum old-school vibes, and sample as many snack stalls as possible. Oh, and make sure to catch the sunset illuminating the warehouses for social media gold! So read on to discover why Kawagoe should be at the top of your Tokyo day trip wish list!

Why Visit Kawagoe on a Day Trip from Tokyo: Is Kawagoe Worth visiting?

Kawagoe makes an awesome day trip from Tokyo for several reasons:

  • Preserved Historic Town: Walking through Kawagoe is like stepping back in time to old Japan. The main merchant district still has many traditional kura warehouses, some made of clay to protect against fire.
  • “Little Edo” Atmosphere: During the Edo Period, wealthy Kawagoe merchants modeled the town after Tokyo (then called Edo). The atmosphere remains today.
  • Convenient Access: Kawagoe is only about a 30-45 minute train ride from Tokyo, making it an easy day trip.
  • Temples, Shrines, & Festivals: Kawagoe has several historic temples and shrines, plus lively festivals year-round.
  • Shopping & Dining: The old town has shops selling traditional sweets and snacks, plus restaurants in buildings from the 1800s.
  • Off the Beaten Path: Kawagoe offers a less crowded, more relaxed experience compared to major Tokyo sights.
  • Day Trip Variety: As an alternative to other day trips like Nikko or Kamakura, Kawagoe brings something different.

Kawagoe Map

Little Edo map kawagoe day trip from tokyo
by Kawagoe website

With its combination of convenience, history, tradition, festivals, shopping, and dining, Kawagoe packs a lot of excitement into a small town!

How to Get to Kawagoe from Tokyo

The fastest and most convenient way to travel from Tokyo to Kawagoe is by train. But first let’s get some basic info about Day Trip Kawagoe From Tokyo:

how far is kawagoe from tokyo

Kawagoe is located about 30-45 minutes by train northwest of central Tokyo.

Specifically, the travel distance and time from major Tokyo stations to Kawagoe are:

  • From Shinjuku Station: About 44 km, taking around 70 minutes by regular train
  • From Shibuya Station: About 42 km, taking around 70 minutes by regular train
  • From Ikebukuro Station: About 27 km, taking around 30-50 minutes by express train

So Kawagoe is quite close to Tokyo, especially considering that it offers such a different traditional atmosphere compared to the big city. The fastest and most popular route is departing from Ikebukuro Station, which brings you to Kawagoe in under an hour.

The convenience of getting from Tokyo to Kawagoe makes it a very accessible and popular day trip. In just a short train ride, you can immerse yourself in “Little Edo” for the day before returning to modern Tokyo in the evening. Kawagoe’s proximity is a major reason it should be high on any Tokyo visitor’s day trip wish list!

Here are the main options to get from Tokyo to Kawagoe:

From Ikebukuro Station to Kawagoe Station:

The Tobu Tojo Line or Seibu Shinjuku Line from Ikebukuro Station take 30-50 minutes and cost around 700 yen one-way. This is the most direct route.

Tokyo to Kwagoe Train: From Shinjuku or Shibuya Stations To Kawagoe Station

Take the JR Chuo Line rapid train from Shinjuku or Shibuya to Ochanomizu, change to the JR Chuo-Sobu Local Line to Higashi-Koganei, then transfer to the Seibu Shinjuku Line to Hon-Kawagoe Station. Takes around 70 minutes and costs 940 yen one-way.

directions to get to Kawagoe from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo:

The fastest way is to take the Seibu Shinjuku Line train.

  1. From Shinjuku Station, take an express train on the JR Chuo Line to Nakano Station. The ride takes about 5 minutes.
  2. At Nakano Station, transfer to the Seibu Shinjuku Line. You want to take an express train bound for Hon-Kawagoe.
  3. The express train from Nakano to Hon-Kawagoe Station takes around 45 minutes. Be sure to sit on the left side of the train for the best views along the way!
  4. Once you arrive at Hon-Kawagoe Station, you’ll be right by the main historic district. Exit the station and walk straight ahead down Kurazukuri Street to explore “Little Edo”.

The total train journey takes around 50 minutes and costs 620 yen one-way without a pass.

An alternative is to take the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku all the way to Ochanomizu Station, then transfer to the Chuo-Sobu Local Line to Higashi-Koganei, and finally change to the Seibu Shinjuku Line for Hon-Kawagoe Station. This takes around 70 minutes and costs 740 yen one-way.

Be sure to check the train schedules for Seibu and JR lines. Express trains depart a few times per hour making Kawagoe a very accessible day trip from Shinjuku and Tokyo!

Is there a tokyo to Kawagoe Shinkansen?

There are no direct shinkansen (bullet train) services from Tokyo to Kawagoe. The shinkansen network does not extend as far as Kawagoe. However, you can still reach Kawagoe quickly and easily from Tokyo by regular train.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/kawagoe-day-trip/

The main options for traveling by train from Tokyo to Kawagoe are:

  • From Ikebukuro Station: Take the Tobu Tojo Line or Seibu Shinjuku Line direct to Kawagoe. The limited express trains take about 30-50 minutes.
  • From Shinjuku/Shibuya Stations: Take the JR Chuo Line to Ochanomizu, transfer to the Chuo-Sobu Local Line to Higashi-Koganei, then transfer to the Seibu Shinjuku Line to Kawagoe. Takes around 70 minutes.
  • You can also take the shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Omiya Station in Saitama (about 20 minutes), then transfer to a local train on the Saikyo Line to Kawagoe (about 25 minutes). Total travel time is around 45-50 minutes.

While the shinkansen can get you part of the way, you’ll still need to transfer to regular local/express trains to reach Kawagoe directly. But the journey is quite fast and convenient still, taking under 1.5 hours from central Tokyo.

For a day trip to Kawagoe, the all-local train routes are most affordable. But taking the shinkansen to Omiya can save some time if you have a Japan Rail Pass that covers your shinkansen fare. Just note you’ll still need to budget time for transferring and taking local trains from Omiya to Kawagoe.

Kawagoe Station or Hon-Kawagoe Station:

Most trains from Tokyo will stop at Kawagoe Station, but Hon-Kawagoe Station is more convenient for walking to the main historic district.

Discount Passes To Kawagoe

Consider a discount day pass like the Seibu Kawagoe Pass (700 yen) or Tobu Kawagoe Pass (710 yen) to save money if traveling back and forth.

Once in Kawagoe, the main sights are within walking distance of Hon-Kawagoe Station or Kawagoe Station. Or you can take the bus to Hikawa Shrine.

Best Time to Visit Kawagoe

Kawagoe is enjoyable to visit year-round. Some ideal times include:

  • March-April: See beautiful cherry blossoms along the Shingashi River.
  • May: During Golden Week, Kawagoe’s festivals kick into high gear.
  • July-August: Summer festivals and events liven up the town.
  • October: Kawagoe’s biggest festival is held in mid-October.
  • December: Kawagoe has beautiful illuminations in winter.

While spring or fall are especially nice, summertime has lively festivals and winter offers illuminations, so there’s something fun happening every season!

Kawagoe Day Trip Itinerary

Here is an ideal one-day itinerary to see the highlights of Kawagoe:

Morning- Day trip From Tokyo Itinerary:

  • Arrive at Hon-Kawagoe Station
  • Walk to Toki no Kane Bell Tower
  • Explore Kurazukuri Street historic warehouses
  • Browse Kashiya Yokocho Candy Alley

Afternoon-Morning- Day trip From Tokyo Itinerary

  • Have lunch in the historic district
  • Visit Hikawa Shrine
  • See cherry blossoms along Shingashi River (in season)
  • Shop and snack through Ichibangai Street

Late- Morning- Day trip From Tokyo Itinerary Afternoon

  • Walk through Taisho Roman Dori
  • Grab an early dinner
  • Return to Tokyo

This route lets you see Kawagoe’s top sights at a comfortable pace, with time for shopping, snacks, and meals. Adjust the schedule as you like – these main attractions are musts for any Kawagoe day trip itinerary!

Things to Do in Kawagoe

Here are some of the best things to see and do in Kawagoe on your day trip from Tokyo:

Toki no Kane (Bell Tower)

This iconic 16-meter wooden bell tower rings four times daily, at 6am, noon, 3pm and 6pm. The bell dates to the 17th century and weighs 700 kg. Seeing and hearing the bell tower is a quintessential Kawagoe experience.

Naritasan Temple

This ornamental Buddhist temple has colorful buildings, statues, and sculptures spread across its hilly wooded grounds.

Stone paths winding through tall trees connect the various halls and structures of the temple, giving it a mystical ambiance. Follow the path past guardian lions and temple dogs to see sites like:

  • Mandala Hall – Kaleidoscopic ceiling mural made with gold, silver and gemstones
  • Thousand-Armed Kannon statue – towering 13-meter tall bronze sculpture
  • Peace Pagoda – Gleaming white modern stupa containing relics of Buddha

Kurazukuri Street

Lined with traditional kura warehouses, this historic street in the main merchant district immerses you in Kawagoe’s “Little Edo” atmosphere. Many buildings are well-preserved since the 19th century.

Kashiya Yokocho (Penny Candy Alley)

Dating to the Meiji era, this alley has over 20 nostalgic dagashiya shops selling old-fashioned Japanese candies and snacks. It’s a foodie paradise!

As you enter the narrow stone-paved street, you’ll be greeted by shouts of “Irasshaimase!” (Welcome!) from little obaachan shop owners. Browse jars of crunchy senbei rice crackers, soft mochi stuffed with sweet bean paste, chocolate-covered treats and more. Prices start at just 10-50 yen per piece.

Don’t miss regional specialties like:

  • Kawagoe purple sweet potato tempura – Iconic crunchy and sweet bite
  • Hikari Monaka – Filled wafer sandwich with ice cream
  • Futabanoya Mamedaifuku – Soft round mochi stuffed with sweet beans

It feels like you’ve time slipped to an old-fashioned Japanese candy shop!

Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/kawagoe-day-trip/
courtesy by Kawagoa website

Founded over 1,500 years ago, this popular shrine has vermillion torii gates, omikuji fortunes, and sacred trees. It’s considered a power spot for love and marriage blessings.

Hikawa Shrine has a huge 15-meter tall torii gate made from a 500-year old cypress tree. It’s the largest wooden torii gate in Japan! The gate was donated by a follower in 1646.

Pass through the torii and you’ll find an ema hall filled with plaques left by visitors seeking marriage blessings. Nearby is a tunnel adorned with thousands of ema offering prayers for healthy babies.

The shrine is dedicated to Susanoo, god of the oceans and brother to sun goddess Amaterasu. Visitors can practice divination by catching a wooden plaque with an omikuji fortune inside from a wooden box.

Kawagoe Kitain Temple

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/kawagoe-day-trip/
Courtesy of Kawagoe website

Founded in 830 AD, this temple has a five-story pagoda, 500 Rakkan Statues dating to the Edo Period, and centuries-old structures, plus lovely gardens.

The shrine grounds have gorgeous pond gardens, stands selling amulets and charms, and sacred giant cedar trees wrapped in straw ropes and bells.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/kawagoe-day-trip/

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Ichibangai Street

Extending from Toki no Kane, this area has historic shops, restaurants, and warehouses along a preserved stone roadway. Browse souvenirs or try sweet potato dishes.

Ichibangai Street gives you a nice sampling of all Kawagoe has to offer. Along this road you’ll find:

  • Classic kura warehouses housing museums, shops, and eateries
  • Local handicrafts like Kitanoya Lamp shop selling lanterns since 1873
  • Traditional treats like imogashi sweets crafted into flowers and plants
  • Regional flavors like Jagariko potato snacks invented in Kawagoe

Don’t miss the free Otaki Jinja miniature shrine museum exhibiting tiny shrines made of shells, wood, and ceramics from across Japan. It’s located on a corner along Ichibangai Street.

Taisho Roman Dori

Lined with unique Taisho Romance style buildings, this street near Hon-Kawagoe Station exemplifies 1920s modernism crossed with traditional design.

Kawagoe Festival Museum

See elaborate floats used in Kawagoe’s annual festival, including traditional dolls, tapestries, and decorative elements from the 17th-19th centuries.

Osawa Residence

Take a free tour of this preserved 19th century merchant’s residence and warehouse, an Important Cultural Property showcasing historic Kawagoe style.

Kawagoe City Museum of Art

Rotating exhibits of modern artworks are displayed within a large kura-style warehouse, melding tradition with contemporary creativity.

As you can see, Kawagoe delivers an incredible variety of historic sites, festivals, shopping, dining, and modern touches on a traditional framework. It’s the ideal place for a day trip back in time from the bustle of Tokyo!

Kawagoe Castle Ruins

Scattered remains of stone walls and a partial tower are all that’s left of Kawagoe Castle today at Kita-in park. Built in 1457, it was the political center of Kawagoe before being destroyed by fire in the late 1800s, and gives a taste of the city’s history.

The original castle was massive, with a five-story donjon, multiple baileys, gates, keeps, and a castle town at its base. Though the buildings are gone, fragments of the castle’s stone work and moats remain.

Located up a wooded hill, the stone ruins make for a peaceful location with nice views over the city below. Historic plaques provide background in English on Kawagoe’s past glory as an important castle town.

More Shops and Snacks

Beyond major sights, Kawagoe has countless other shops, snacks, and attractions waiting to be discovered:

  • Kitanoya Lamp Shop – Handmade paper lamps since 1873
  • Baikindo – Woodcraft store selling unique music boxes
  • Yanaka Hashiya – Historic chopstick shop from 1852
  • Dashi Bar Kawagoe – Shop selling local dashi stock flavors
  • Ekieikan Sake Museum – Learn sake history and sample types
  • Street Performers – See daily music and dance shows
  • Kawagoe Yumebeer – Local craft brewery and pub

Renkeiji Temple

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photo courtesy of Kawagoa tourist association

This ancient Tendai sect temple, established in 593 AD, is known for its blooming azaleas and wisteria. It’s considered one of Japan’s top three famous spots for flower-viewing.

Over 2,000 azalea bushes cover the hillside leading up to the temple, making a stunning display of color in late April-May. Japanese wisteria vines trail overhead, creating a floral tunnel.

The temple’s Treasure Hall contains a statue of Shaka Nyorai, the historic Buddha, designated an Important Cultural Property.

During the Edo period, Renkeiji’s beauty attracted nobles and samurai who had second homes around the temple. Several traditional samurai residences from this era still stand on the grounds.

Candy Art Museum

This museum located inside the World Terakoya confectionery shop displays incredible candy artworks and offers hands-on workshops.

Life-sized candy sculptures depict famous Japanese landmarks like Tokyo Tower entirely in colorful sweets. See Mount Fuji recreated with chocolate and jellybeans!

Visitors can sign up for workshops to try making candy art themselves with direction from the in-house artisans. It’s fun for kids and adults alike.

The gift shop up front sells the shop’s signature giant candy apples and unique flavored Kit Kats like Baked Sweet Potato and Genmai Tea. Those with a sweet tooth will be in heaven!

Kawagoe Kimono Rental

Take your Kawagoe experience to the next level by dressing up in traditional clothing at one of the kimono rental shops in town.

Popular options include Noren, where you can choose antique-style kimono for a classic look, and Primrose, which offers modern vibrant designs. Both take walk-ins and offer full dressing service. Rental fees start around 3,500 yen for 3 hours.

Strolling Kawagoe’s historic streets in a flowing kimono really adds to the atmosphere! Many tourists rent kimono for the day here. Just be sure to allow time for returning before the shop closes.

Matsuri Kaikan

Learn about the history of Kawagoe Festival at this exhibit hall displaying floats used in the annual event. Miniature versions are on display year-round.

See the intricate details up-close of wood carvings, decorative cloths, mechanisms, and traditional doll displays that adorn the towering floats. Explanations in English provide insight into this 360-year-old festival.

Floats are wheeled out into the parking lot during festival time so visitors can glimpse their massive size. Two full-sized floats also stand outside the Kaikan.

Kawagoe Festival

One of Japan’s top festivals, the Kawagoe Hikawa Matsuri is held each year on the 3rd weekend of October. This lively festival dates back over 360 years to 1646.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/kawagoe-day-trip/

The main attraction is up to 25 elaborately decorated floats, called hikiyama, paraded through the streets. Some stands are over 5 meters tall! Rows of people pull the floats using ropes while playing traditional festival music.

The floats have intricate wood carvings, tapestries, dolls, and decorative elements. Many display traditional performances with rotating mechanisms. The floats compete to be the most beautiful and creative.

The festival draws over 1 million visitors to Kawagoe every year. Yatai food stalls line the streets, adding to the festive atmosphere.

If visiting in October, be sure to plan your Kawagoe trip to coincide with this amazing festival! Or stop by the Kawagoe Festival Museum to see the floats year-round.

Where to Eat in Kawagoe

Kawagoe has many dining options to fuel up during your day trip, including:

Kikusui Bakery – Famous bakery open since 1624, try their sweet bean bread

Uotatsu – Traditional restaurant in a historic kura, known for wild eel and deep-fried shrimp

Hatago – Specializes in beef sukiyaki, a classic Japanese hot pot dish, in a homey historic setting

Yamazaki Distillery – Have amazing eel over rice at this legendary shop dating from 1842

Imoyokocho – Whole street with delicious restaurants featuring sweet potato cuisine

Kashiya Yokocho – Historic candy alley with traditional Japanese sweet shops and cafes

Kura Sushi – Conveyor belt sushi inside a kura-style building, very budget-friendly

In addition to these spots, many restaurants and cafes line the historic streets, often in preserved buildings from the 17-1800s. Part of the fun is simply strolling until you find a place that appeals to your tastes!

Where to Stay in Kawagoe

As a popular day trip from Tokyo, most visitors do not spend the night in Kawagoe. However, if you want extend your trip, here are some accommodations:

Kawagoe Tobu Hotel – Nice hotel by Kawagoe Station, Western & Japanese rooms

Hatago Saitoshu – Historic inn with shared baths, a cultural experience

Kawagoe Prince Hotel – Upscale hotel with onsen baths and restaurants

Matsumuraya Ryokan – Traditional ryokan with beautiful Japanese rooms

Kikuya Ryokan – Small, inexpensive ryokan near the bell tower

Staying overnight allows you to enjoy Kawagoe’s festivals and illuminations in the evening or visit sights at a more leisurely pace. Be sure to book well in advance if visiting during busy festival seasons.

Tips for Visiting Kawagoe

Follow these tips to make the most of your Kawagoe day trip:

  • Arrive early to avoid afternoon crowds
  • Consider renting a kimono in Kawagoe to really soak up the traditional atmosphere
  • Walk through the historic district first before visiting outer temples
  • Allow time for browsing shops and snacking through candy alley
  • Have small bills and coins for entering shrines, purchasing snacks, etc.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes as you’ll be on your feet most of the day
  • Purchase a discount train pass like the Seibu Kawagoe Pass to save money
  • Stop by Taisho Roman Dori at night to see the area illuminated

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