Walking through Kawagoe's Old Town (Photo: Todd Wojnowski)

Kawagoe's Old Town: Warehouse Zone

A scenic stroll through yesteryear

Walking through Kawagoe's Old Town (Photo: Todd Wojnowski)
Todd Wojnowski   - 3 min read

Kawagoe is a historic city well-known throughout the Tokyo area as a great tourist destination and day-trip from the country's capital. Kawagoe's most unique feature is an area known to locals as "Old Town," a district whose appearance has been maintained in the traditional style of the Edo Period (1600-1867). This area, officially known as Koedo (meaning, "Little Edo"), is a neat place to spend the day shopping, eating, and sightseeing.

Many of the great buildings here are located in the Warehouse District of Old Town, known as Kurazukuri no Machinami. The word kurazukuri refers to the clay-walled warehouse buildings that line the street in this area, which feature incredible architectural style from a bygone era. Everything from the roofs to the window panes are worth gazing at and filling up your camera's memory card with. In the past, Kawagoe was a thriving commercial town that sent many of its goods to nearby Edo (present-day Tokyo), and these buildings housed the goods manufactured or traded through Kawagoe.

Today, of course, most of the buildings have been converted to modern use. Many of the clay-walled warehouses are used for shops, restaurants and cafes, many of which still maintain elements of "traditional Japan" either regarding their style, service and appearance, or regarding what they sell. It's easy to find traditional sweets and snacks, as well as handmade goods and locally-grown foods. It's easy for tourists to spend the afternoon here, browsing the old shops and admiring the atmosphere. The town is not only for tourists, either. Kawagoe residents regularly do their eating and shopping here in the locally owned mom-and-pop shops here, making it a viable alternative to the nearby Crea Mall.

Of course, the Warehouse District is only one part of Old Town. "Penny Candy Alley" hand-makes cheap, simple, traditional candies and is a fun place to wander. The symbol of Old Town, the bell tower, is also very nearby the Warehouse District, and is an integral part of any visit to the area. Of course, Old Town is at its best during the excellent Kawagoe Matsuri, a yearly festival in October that is among the best in the area.

Though this is an excellent place for a day trip from Tokyo, the tourism industry does have its drawbacks as well. The main road leading through the Warehouse District is quite busy and filled with tour busses, which takes a bit away from the quaint walk through yesteryear that the area was designed to be.

Getting there

Old Town can be reached by a 5 minute walk from Kawagoeshi Station (Tobu Tojo Line) or Hon Kawagoe Station (Seibu Shinjuku Line). It can also be accessed from Kawagoe Station (Tobu Tojo Line) with about a 20 minute walk.

Todd Wojnowski

Todd Wojnowski @todd.wojnowski

I am an avid backpacker, writer, marathon runner, hiker, eater of spicy foods, watcher of B-movies, and user of the Harvard comma. I'm originally from Buffalo, New York, and arrived in Japan in 2008.