There are so many reasons to find a Matsuri or Japanese Festival while in Japan. Amongst those are eating your way through the street food selections, participating and watching the festivities of the Matsuri and to see the Japanese taking the time to enjoy life after a long work week. One particular place which holds a Matsuri in October is the city of Kawagoe outside of Tokyo.
The city of Kawagoe or “little Edo” in the Saitama Perfecture. The town is famous for it’s kurazukuri which are Edo Period warehouses, Bell Tower, and shops who make and sell an excellent variety of tradition Japanese confections. The city resembles Tokyo looked before the fires 1823 of the Great Kanto Earthquake.
The symbol of the city is the Bell Tower which has been keeping time for 350 years. The Bell Tower has been rebuilt twice. It not only didn’t survive the Great Kanto Earthquake but also had to be rebuilt in 1993 after the Kawagoe Great Fire. The current structure has been chiming it’s bell four times a day since.
The two other popular areas of the city to visit are the Kurazukuri Street or Kurazukuri no machinamiis and the Confectionery Row or Kashiya Yokochō. These are the areas where visitors can shop for traditional sweets, crafts and clothing which are housed in the two-story restored warehouse buildings.
The Kawagoe Festival or Matsuri is held for two days in October each year. Kawagoe makes for a great day trip even if a matsuri isn’t going on. Most of the floats seen in the parade are housed in museum buildings located near the Kashiya Yokocho.
How to get there from Tokyo:
From Shinjuku, take the Seibu Shinjuku train from west Shinjuku station to Hon Kawagoe. It takes 1 hour (for express train)
From Ikebukuro, then take JR Tobu Tojo Line to Kawagoe station. It takes about 32mins, but the main street is a bit further down and there’s a bit more of a walk.
Most Stations have lockers but don’t count on them being free during the matsuri. I ended up carrying my pack through it all.