Styrofoam Art in Kawagoe

Look out for these pieces of art while in Kawagoe

By Lynda Hogan    - 2 min read

There is plenty on the web, and indeed Japan Travel, about all the things to do and see in Kawagoe, but I want to introduce 'Another Kawagoe'. That is, information not readily available on the web in English about the other side of Kawagoe. That of current times, of living artists and commercialists, of recent architecture and businesses and natural beauty and events. This episode looks at a fun feature of modern day Kawagoe: the Styrofoam art displays.

Chameleon Styrofoam Art
Chameleon Styrofoam Art

Yajima Kimio is a local Kawagoe artist. If you have been to Kawagoe before, chances are you have seen his work. For example, the chameleon pictured above. What you may not know is that this chameleon is made out of Styrofoam! In this picture the chameleon is on a five yen and for many years it was so. However, sometime in the last year the five yen was replaced with a thumb! I've no idea what that's about and whether its a permanent or temporary change.

Mr Yajima has been providing Styrofoam artwork to Kawagoe (and other cities) for many years. I first clued into his work about a decade ago and have followed him with interest since. His pieces in Kawagoe move around and he periodically adds to his collection, which keeps things interesting. With my own children and those I bring on tours, they always enjoy looking out for his pieces. I have even created a scavenger hunt for them in the past. It really adds to the fun while touring Kawagoe with kids.

I won't spoil the fun and tell you where the pieces are, but I will tell you what to look out for. The Styrofoam art statues in Kawagoe city currently include:

Styrofoam Art in Kawagoe
Styrofoam Art in Kawagoe
  • A replica of Kawagoe's landmark bell tower
  • Bulldog
  • Panda
  • Penguin with chick
  • Frog
  • Shoebill
  • Chameleon
  • Small chimpanzee
  • Rabbit
  • Asakusa Samba Judge
  • Carp

They are all in public places, mainly outdoors, and are free to admire. How many can you find? Do pop back and tell us how many Styrofoam statues you were able to find.

Getting there

The pieces of Mr Yajima's art mentioned in this post are all in the tourist area of Kawagoe, with the exception of the bell tower which is actually in Kawagoe Station. Six of the pieces are currently in the Penny Candy Alley area, but remember they do move around. The Penny Candy Alley is about a 25 minute walk from each of the train stations in Kawagoe.

If you are coming by car there is plenty of coin parking lots in the area. The nearest free car park is at the JA Iruma Farmer's market on route 16, near Honmaru Goten. It is about a twenty minute walk away.

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Lynda Hogan

Lynda Hogan @lynda.hogan

Lynda has been in Japan for 20 years and blogging about Saitama on her personal blog insaitama.com for 14 of them.  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. 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.  Be sure to stop by my website where you will find 600 things to do in Saitama and 400 active events! 

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S a month ago
The chameleon! I always wondered what that was about. Great back story. Thank you for sharing!
Elizabeth S a month ago
Let us know if you find out! I hope that once the state of emergency is over, I can go make another autumn visit to Kawagoe. I love the place!
Kim a month ago
These are seriously impressive and detailed! I imagine they're nice and light to move, too, if they have to be relocated.
Lynda Hogan Author a month ago
You'd never guess to look at them that they are made of styrofoam right. On his personal blog you can see the process of how he makes them. He found himself a nice niche there!
Elena Lisina a month ago
Kawagoe is interesting place by itself, but these 'toys' are really funny!
Lynda Hogan Author a month ago
Kawagoe really has so much to offer. And these quirky statues add to the color and the fun! :)
Sherilyn Siy a month ago
What a fun side activity aside from all the main attractions Kawagoe has to offer. We had a great time at the candy alley and the trick art museum the last time we were there.
Lynda Hogan Author a month ago
There really is so much to do with kids in Kawagoe, but a lot of it is off the beaten path. Which is great when you are local and don't want to wait in line to do something! But I will in due course share even more of Kawagoe's hidden charms. :-)