By Sonia Ortiz
Fukutomi holds a special place in the heart of Kawagoe locals. It is the place where small local companies choose to celebrate a successful financial year with a bonenkai (end of year party), where families wet the baby's head, as we say in Ireland, when there is a new addition to family, or, as my best friend here in Japan told me lately, where future in-laws meet to discuss a marriage proposal, and, hopefully, there upon celebrate it.
Like several other Kawagoe locals, my own family has celebrated many an occasion in Fukutomi. From engagement to marriage, birth to graduation, or even just welcoming visitors from out of town, Fukutomi is our go-to restaurant for a celebratory kaiseki dinner. Kaiseki is comparable in some respects to haute cuisine, in that it is artful, meticulously prepared, and presented with several courses.
Fukutomi has both a restaurant and private rooms. The latter are on a separate floor with beautiful corridors of marbled floors lined with pebbles. There are a couple of bridges on the floor and water features in the corridors too. The rooms are tatami with low tables and legless chairs. Each room has a different feature in its display alcove.
The kaiseki meal is usually eleven courses, including an appetizer, starters, soup, vegetable dishes, fish dishes, a rice dish, a hot pot cooked at the table, seasoned pickles and a dessert. It is an elaborate affair, not just a meal, and there is a break between dishes so you need to allocate sufficient time for the experience.
Fukutomi's kaiseki starts from 8,000 yen per person. It costs more if you are ordering a special dish and / or want alcohol with your meal. In general, kaiseki with alcohol costs 11,000 yen per adult. The kids meal is 1,500 yen per child. Their website is in Japanese only, but it is very visual. You need to book in advance. You can book through a form on their website or by phone.
By car: Fukutomi has a small car park for about six cars. They park your car for you and when you are finished they bring your car to the door too. This is the only place in Japan that I have ever experienced this.
By public transport: Fukutomi is located close to the Seibu line Hon-Kawagoe station. It is about a four minute walk. From Tobu Tojo line and JR Kawagoe stations it is about a 12 minute walk.
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I've been in Japan for 18 years and yet everyday is still an adventure. For the last 11 years I have been living in and blogging about Saitama Prefecture (on my personal blog insaitama.com), occasionally appearing on TV to promote the attractions of my adopted home in rural Saitama. Despite its central location, just North of Tokyo, Saitama is still quite unknown to the international tourist, but frequented by domestic travelers. It is a great place to experience some off-the-international-tourist-trail locations and meet with locals and national tourists. And of course Saitama is home to venues for both the Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I hope to introduce a taste of what there is to do and see in my articles on Japan Travel and help you with your Saitama travel planning.