Off the beaten path: Day Trips from Tokyo
After doing the hardcore tourist thing, we decided to find a place that wasn’t too far. By this time, I was bored of going long distances via rail. When I am out and about too much I forget to eat, so by the time I get back to where I am staying I am starving and am too impatient to go to a sit down restaurant. I always end up eating some rice and chicken from Family Mart before washing my face and going to bed. Luckily Kawagoe is only 45 minutes from Shinjuku and it is the perfect day trip.
Things to do in Kawagoe
There is a cute coffee shop called Toshino on the main road that is worth a visit. The people who I assumed to be the owners were do nice and we communicated via a translation app! Thank god for technology.
I witnessed a hilarious scene when there. I passed by a Starbucks and found swarms of people taking selfies outside of it. I was totally perplexed. Perhaps they hadn’t seen a Starbucks before? Maybe it is a Japanese thing? I didn’t understand, but whatever. Here is a photo of the Starbucks. Let me know if you think it is worthy of a selfie.
Warehouse District: Look at cool old black Edo period buildings
The town of Kawagoe was built around the Kawagoe Castle which doesn’t exist anymore. The heavy, black, gabled roof buildings on the main street of the town are referred to as Kurazukuri construction, and guess what? They were very expensive to build and fireproof unlike many building of the period. Because of this only merchants who grew wealthy enough built their warehouses but also their stores in the Kurazukuri style.
Peep the Toki no Kane (Bell of Time) tower
The bell tower is a landmark of Kawagoe. Erected originally in the 1600s, it has been rebuilt 4 times. The tower is only three stories tall, but it towers over all the other low-rise buildings in the area.
That is basically all there is to do in this town. We spent about 2 hours there and then decided to blow that popsicle stand and head back into the city for some fine dining!
Michelin Star Dining: Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta
I can only afford to eat at a one Michelin star restaurant, but hey, three years ago I wouldn’t be able to afford to go to Japan, so things are looking up! One day I’ll be eating at Eleven Madison Park. Watch out word!
Alright, so this place is super cool, super low key. It is like a typical Japanese noodle house where you get a ticket before the chef makes it for you. You have to stand outside (around the corner) and wait to be let in, but it is totally worth it!
Luckily the chefs are awesome. I wrote in my translation app that I was allergic to cashews and they remade me a dish so I didn’t die! there were definitely trace elements of nuts in the dish, and my throat was itchy and sore all night, but it was TOTALLY worth it. The dish was bomb.com.
Overall, this was a great, easy day and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something low-key to do when in Tokyo.