Warehouse District of Kawagoe

Takes one back to the Edo Period

By Elena Lisina   May 19, 2017

Kawagoe is located about 30 minutes by train from Tokyo and is good as a day trip. Its main street, lined with clay-walled warehouse-styled houses, gives the impression of the old town feeling from the Edo Period (1603-1867). That’s why Kawagoe is called "Little Edo."

Kawagoe used to be an important city to the capital Edo (now Tokyo) for trade and strategic purposes. At that time, Japanese towns consisted mostly of wooden buildings, which made them vulnerable to fires. Kurazukuri construction made fireproof houses. They were very expensive to build, as walls consisted of several layers. Due to the trade, many merchants grew wealthy enough to build not only their warehouses but also their stores in the Kurazukuri style. Some of the buildings managed to survive till now. They can be found along the main Kurazukuri Street. Bell Tower is a landmark and a symbol of Kawagoe. It chimes four times a day (6:00am, 12:00pm, 3:00pm and 6:00pm) and it was rebuilt in 1894 after Great fire of Edo Period in 1893.

For modernen person, this architecture may seem strange. Too “heavyweight”, low, and dark in colors. But it has its own charm, of course. There are many small shops and cafes on Kurazukiri Street selling sweets, souvenirs, clothes and so on. The special souvenir of Kawagoe is a transforming ball that changes colors when you toss it. I couldn't resist from buying it, of course!

The Warehouse District can be reached within a 10-15 minute walk along the main street from Hon-Kawagoe Station.

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