Living in Kawagoe: Guide For Foreigners

  • Advice

As Japan continues to modernize, most places that mirror its old tradition and culture struggle to thrive. Fortunately, there are a few well-preserved places which incredibly stood the test of time, one of which is the beautiful city of Kawagoe.

Because of the historic buildings and roads lined with dozens of massive and attractive warehouses, Kawagoe is one of the rare destinations that have impressively maintained its ancient vibes. This is evident from the small stores to giant palaces, castles, and temples.

All these places and exciting facts are enough to take anyone by surprise, yet Kawagoe has a lot more to offer which will surely satisfy your hearts and eyes.

Kawagoe - Japan's "Little Edo"

For ages, this peaceful place in Saitama has been reminiscent of the historic Edo era. Edo is the previous name of Japan's capital city before it was renamed Tokyo in 1868.

Centuries have passed, yet every tourist visiting Kawagoe can still experience the nostalgic atmosphere of Edo especially when you walk in the famous Kurazukuri street where you can find numerous store-house type structures.


  • From Tokyo Station, take the Marunouchi Line to Ikebukuro Station. Take the Tobu-Tojo Line to Kawagoeshi Station (approx. 48 minutes)
  • From Shibuya Station, take the Yamanote Line to Takadanobaba Station. Take the Red arrow (Shinjuku Line) to Hon-Kawagoe Station (approx. 50 minutes).
  • From Shinjuku Station, take the Saikyo Line to Ikebukuro Station. Take the Tobu-Tojo Line to Kawagoeshi Station (approx 50 minutes).

Famous Locations

Kita-in Temple

Also known as Kawagoe Daishi, Kita-in temple houses countless valuable works of art as well as several structures which are considered important cultural properties.

One of the highlights of Kita-in is its main hall which was once part of the former Edo castle.

Kitain is also home to the mesmerizing 540 stone statues of disciples of Buddha often referred to as "Gohyaku Rakan" which is a perfect spot for taking photographs. Moreover, its vast grounds contain an eye-catching moat and pond.

Even though a fire burned and destroyed most of Kita-in 1638, it was gradually rebuilt, leaving almost no trace of the tragic incident. Today, Kita-in is renowned nationwide and is considered as the most famous temple in Saitama Prefecture.


  • Address: 1 Chome-20-1 Kosenbamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture
  • Directions: 15-minute walk from Hon-Kawagoe Station

Warehouse District

If you want to witness the nostalgic scene from the Edo Period at its best, Kawagoe's Warehouse District is your go-to place.

Even up to this day, most of its oldest buildings such as restaurants and housing shops survive, providing a glimpse of the old Kawagoe which was once a significant commercial town that supplied resources to Edo (present-day Tokyo).

The Bell Tower which is only a short distance from the main street is a famous landmark and symbol of Kawagoe. The bell was very important to the people of Kawagoe during the times when there were no clocks since it rang four times a day to tell people of the time.

Other must-visit spots include the Museum of Kurazukuri which is open to the public and the Candy Alley. If you happen to come in October, never miss the Kawagoe Festival to witness the musical battles among floats.


  • Address: 1 Saiwaicho, Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture
  • Directions: 10-15 minute walk from Hon-Kawagoe Station

Honmaru Goten (Kawagoe Castle)

Listed as one of Japan's top 100 castles, Kawagoe castle is the closest castle to Tokyo that is accessible to tourists since Edo castle (which is now the Imperial Palace) is largely inaccessible.

Honmaru Goten, which means "palace in the inner-most circle of defense" is also the only building of the former Kawagoe Castle that survived. Upon visiting, some of the must-see assets are the painted doors and walls of the reception rooms.

Reopened to the public in 2011, Honmaru Goten now features a garden, spacious tatami rooms and pictures of cultural heritage. Visitors can also "join" and sit with the models of a feudal lord and his vassals.


  • Address: 2-2-13-1 Kuruwamachi, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama Prefecture
  • Directions: 21-minute walk from Hon-Kawagoe Station (10-minute walk from Kitain Temple and Warehouse District)

Why foreigners live in Kawagoe

Ambience of traditional Japan

Japan is a country with two faces. On the one hand, it is a land of highly urbanized cities with full of skyscrapers.

On the other, it is an ancient place and an inspiration for many history books, legend, and samurai movies. For the people who come to Japan for the first time, the second face is the image they often hope to find.

Interestingly, that same mood and vibes are what visitors witness in this little city right on the doorstep of modern Tokyo. Often referred to as the "Japan of your dreams," Kawagoe can make you feel history because of its buildings and back streets.

Apart from the traditional structures and streets, you can also taste traditional Japanese sweets which Candy Alley (or Candy street) has been selling for years.

Near to Central Tokyo

Kawagoe has excellent access to central Tokyo which is considered the heart of entertainment, politics, business, and national administration. In fact, three railway companies (Tobu, Seibu, and JR) connect the said two locations.

By Tobu Tojo Line, travel time can be as fast as 30 minutes by express trains, and foreigners can use the "Kawagoe Discount Pass," an offer exclusively for foreign tourists which allows them to enjoy a round trip between Kawagoe and Ikebukuro at a cheaper rate.

By Seibu, tourists can take the Seibu Shinjuku line. Frequent trains connect Seibu Shinjuku Station and Hon-Kawagoe Station, one of Kawagoe's three railway stations along with Kawagoe-Station and Kawagoe-shi Station.

By JR, it may take around 55 minutes. Frequent direct rapid trains also connect Shinjuku Station and Kawagoe Station via Omiya if you take the JR Saikyo/Kawagoe Line.

Foreigner-friendly government and education

Kawagoe city is a place where thousands of foreign citizens find a new home. For this reason, the local government organized "Kawagoe City Foreign Citizens Conference" which helps to address the language and culture difficulties.

The city also published "Guideline of Daily Life for foreign Citizens" which anyone can easily download online and which is translated into five different languages- English, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Because of these government efforts, Kawagoe continues to become a city where every citizen would want to settle permanently.

Kawagoe also houses Tokyo International University, an institution with a strong international focus. The said school boasts roughly around 1,200 international students coming from almost 60 countries across the globe.

Other universities, such as Toyo university also offer special programs for international students.


Few kilometers from Central Tokyo, Kawagoe is a classical place that will let you witness the history of ancient Japan. Above all, going to Kawagoe will also make you realize that Japanese culture and tradition never dies.

As you explore Kawagoe, you are not only traversing a unique place in Japan, but you are also traveling back in time.

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