Warning: Photo Heavy Post
Kawagoe is a small town located in Saitama prefecture. They are famous for their period buildings, candy lane and sweet potatoes! Our day in Kawagoe started with lunch at the famous unagi restaurant, Ogakiku. It’s currently the #1 restaurant in Kawagoe according to Tripadvisor. I thought it was the perfect place for David to try his first unagi dish. The restaurant itself was quiet. Most of their patrons are locals who seem to know the staff by name. I believe we were the only tourists there which was surprising because everyone talks about this restaurant!
The meal offerings were scarce but we did come so that David could try the unagi so it was alright. I’m not a huge fan of eel so I opted to try their teriyaki chicken served with a seafood soup and soboro donburi (ground chicken rice bowl). All I can say is that it was amazing! The chicken was tender and the sauce really comes through. When I saw how big the soboro donburi was, I was hesitant as it was huge! I did manage to finish the bowl so I can’t complain. It was that good!
David’s unagi dish came in a beautiful lacquered box. I have tried eel before and it tastes like fish… but I can’t take the picture of a slithering animal out of my head so I have never really been fond of eating it. David thought it was interesting. A good grilled unagi is crisp on the outside but succulent and tender on the inside. The charcoal used adds aroma and flavoring to the dish so it’s important to choose the best one! The sweet sauce used to baste the eel is unique to each restaurant. For me, it tastes like teriyaki sauce.
After our late lunch, we headed to the town proper.
The strip of old Edo buildings showcases merchant shops. If you have money to spare, this is the perfect place to buy your souvenirs. They have everything, from iPhone cases to key chains. I believe they even offer different types of green tea and craft beer.
It’s also important to walk along the side streets as you’ll discover interesting things, like this cute outdoor food truck. It’s too bad that it was closed.
This pulled rickshaw was here the last time I visited Kawagoe, that was over 4 years ago! I wonder if anyone uses it.
The time we went, David and I encountered empty streets such as the one below. It was quiet despite it being summer time.
One place that I remember clearly was the Penny Candy Lane. I wanted to drop by since I’m a huge fan of Japanese candy. The last time I was there, it was filled with tourists! I distinctly remember a man creating unicorn lollipops with pulled sugar on the street. I was disappointed to see that most of the shops were closed, and I was really looking forward to it!
I did managed to buy some okashi (sweets) in this store so it wasn’t a complete waste! All of them are reasonable priced. I dare you to come by and not buy anything. You just can’t!
After wandering around, we decided to visit the Kawagoe Festival Museum. It houses floats which they use during summer festivals. During Sundays and National Holidays, the museum also showcases Japanese music as heard during the Kawagoe festival. The admission is cheap at 300 yen per person. Definitely a place to visit when you’re already in the area.
Last but not the least, don’t forget to visit the old tower, Toki no Kane. The current one was built in 1893 after the big Kawagoe fire. The bell still rings at 6 in the morning, noontime, 3 in the afternoon and 6 at night.
Take a stroll through time and travel back to ancient Edo! In Kawagoe, you’ll experience the lingering historical heritage and authentic Japanese food. It’s definitely something you should not miss!