Kawagoe Castle: Honmaru Goten

Historical building at ruins of Kawagoe Castle

By Yonatan Friis    - 2 min read

Though Kawagoe is most famous for its traditional Japanese-style streets, the city also used to have a castle which is now nothing but a ruin. Today, Honmaru Goten is the only surviving structure of the former Kawagoe Castle.

Kawagoe Castle was originally built as a hilltop castle in 1457 in the present city of Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture. Today, few traces of the once prestigious castle remain, as the buildings were abandoned and demolished in the 1870s like many other castles as part of the Japanese modernization process known as the Meiji Restoration. While some castle ruins throughout Japan were left untouched, the grounds of Kawagoe Castle are now home to private homes and sport facilities like a baseball field in Hatsukari Park. However, among these modern structures, one building stands out, as this was actually part of the castle before it was demolished.

Added to Kawagoe Castle in 1848, the Honmaru Goten – or the Inner Palace – used to serve as the lord’s offices and residence. This building has now been transformed into a museum that is open to the public in which pictures and artifacts connected to the history of Kawagoe Castle are on display. Visitors can move around freely in the spacious building and get a traditional feel as they walk through the many tatami rooms and enjoy the unharmed architecture. There is even a small Japanese garden where you can tug yourself away from the present and pretend to be part of the past in this historical pearl that is surrounded by modern, daily life.

There are now talks about restoring the castle grounds as a historical site which means that the nearby baseball field will need to be relocated. Right next to Honmaru Goten lies sports facilities connected to Saitama Prefectural Kawagoe High School.

Getting there

There are no stations close to Honmaru Goten. If you plan on visiting the Kita-in Temple and the Hikawa shrine, you can walk past the Honmaru Goten on your way between them. Nearby you will also find Kawagoe City Museum and Kawagoe City Art Museum.

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Yonatan Friis

Yonatan Friis @yonatan.friis

I have a Bachelor degree in Japanese Studies, and every year I go to Japan by my self to experience new parts of the country. I am the owner of Denmark's largest Japan themed homepage Japanoholic, where I write about Japanese culture, history and local attractions.

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S 3 weeks ago
There’s more antique beauty in Kawagoe City? I missed this on all those trips...It was just a dot on a map.

Your lovely photos make it an appealing destination.
Elizabeth S 2 weeks ago
it's really low key, isn't it? But gorgeous.
Kim B 3 weeks ago
My dream is to one day have a traditional Japanese garden like that!