Kawagoe promotes itself as “Little Edo”, with a streetscape that lets us imagine what a town in the Edo period might have looked like. One key stretch of the main street even comes without power lines, which are so often a blight on the Japanese cityscape. This might sound like only a small attention to detail, but it is noticeable way of making the streetscape so much more enjoyable. If only cars were removed from the main historical street as well!
On a beautiful late summer’s Sunday afternoon, I headed out to Kawagoe, a city in neighbouring Saitama Prefecture, with some friends to see what the old town had in store. Although we only had a few hours, we found that the Kita-in temple and the old streetscape definitely warranted our time. Some of the old town has survived progress, the 1923 Kanto earthquake and WW2 bombings, and has now been preserved (including power lines being submerged), with the humble mountain potato (yama-imo) selected to be its souvenir of choice.