One of the biggest draws of Japan as a tourist destination is how it spans across time: on one hand, it's known for ancient castles and temples, bygone warriors and samurai, and traditions carved out of centuries of refinement. On the other, it's popular as a tech-crazy ball of neon lights, high speed rail and robotics. This dual nature can be found across the country, but one place to easily find it is in the city of Kawagoe, in Saitama.
Kawagoe is renowned as a tourist destination for its "Koedo" area - a stretch of city from yesteryear that has been able to maintain its architectural look from the past. While tour busses spend their weekends dropping off flocks of visitors with their cameras at the ready, the other half of Kawagoe City is quite different. In fact, Kawagoe serves as the main shopping and commercial center for this section of Saitama, which is filled with "bedroom towns" filled with houses of commuters to Tokyo, and not much else. Where do these people do their shopping? Kawagoe, and more specifically, Crea Mall.
Crea Mall is an outdoor shopping mall located between Kawagoe Station (Tobu Tojo Line) and Hon Kawagoe Station (Seibu Shinjuku Line). It incorporates two separate but adjacent shopping areas: Kawagoe Sun Road, and Kawagoe Shintomicho. It is filled with what one would expect of any modern shopping center: major chain retailers, smaller privately-owned specialty shops, huge Atre and Maruhiro department stores, and plenty of places to eat and drink.
During the week it is typically overrun by high school and junior high school students looking for a place to hang out after classes. At night it gets taken over by the older crowds shuffling to and from the numerous izakayas and bars. On the weekends it's a big free for all, filled with families and shoppers and people with nothing else to do. There is a small fenced-in park/play area at the center that is usually filled with children, and there are frequently musical performers on the street.
Crea Mall is a 2-minute walk from Kawagoe Station (Tobu Tojo Line) and stretches to the front of Hon Kawagoe Station (Seibu Shinjuku Line). It can also be reached on foot from Kawagoeshi Station (Tobu Tojo Line) in about 5 minutes.
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