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Traditional alley in Kawagoe
Location of Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture
|• Mayor||Yoshiaki Kawai|
|• Total||109.16 km2 (42.15 sq mi)|
|Population (November 1, 2014)|
|• Density||3,150.66/km2 (8,160.2/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
Kawagoe (川越市 Kawagoe-shi?) is a city in Saitama Prefecture, Japan, and is about a 30-minute train ride from Ikebukuro in Tokyo. As of July 1, 2011, the city has an estimated population of 343,926, with 142,898 households and a population density of 3,150.66 persons per km². The total area is 109.16 km².
The city is a satellite city of Tokyo but it is also the governmental, commercial and business centre of the southwestern (geographically it is central, but the administration and the public classify it as southwestern) Saitama Prefecture. It is a core city (and a business core city) designated by Japanese national government.
Kawagoe is famous for its sweet potatoes, and the local "Candy Street" sells such treats as sweet potato chips, sweet potato ice cream, sweet potato coffee, and even sweet potato beer, brewed at the local Koedo Brewery.
Some of its streets preserve the old castle town of the Edo period (17th to 19th centuries). Prominent sites in Kawagoe include the bell tower as seen in the picture to the right. The bell tower serves as the symbol for Koedo and rings three times a day. Other sites include the 500 Rakan statues at Kita-in, a prominent Buddhist temple. It is a popular gathering-spot for New Year celebrations. As midnight approaches on December 31, waits of nearly three hours are commonplace at the temple.
The city of Kawagoe is served by JR East and the two private railway operators Seibu Railway and Tobu Railway, providing three different routes to and from central Tokyo. The main station is Kawagoe Station (served by JR East and Tobu lines), with Kawagoeshi Station (Tobu) and Hon-Kawagoe Station (Seibu) situated closer to the old part of the city.
- JR East:
- Tobu Railway:
The city of Kawagoe operates a bicycle sharing scheme in the city centre, with eight pickup/parking locations.
The city is known locally as "Little Edo" (小江戸 Koedo?) after the old name for Tokyo, "Edo". Kawagoe castle was the headquarters of the Kawagoe Domain and occupied by close aides of the Tokugawa shogunate. Most of the buildings were dismantled in the 1870s but some remained or were relocated.
Before it was merged with Saitama Prefecture in 1873, it was the capital of Kawagoe Prefecture (1871) then Iruma Prefecture (1871–1873).
The Bell of Time (時の鐘 Toki no kane?) is a bell tower originally built on the orders of Sakai Tadakatsu (酒井 忠勝?) between 1624 and 1644. The present structure goes back to 1894, a year after the Great Fire of Kawagoe. It is a three-story tower measuring 16 meters in height. The tower has been telling time to the city's residents for 350 years and has been deemed as a symbol of the city. Currently, the bell can be heard four times a day (6 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m.).
The Confectionery Row (菓子屋横丁 Kashiya Yokochō?) is a small backstreet alley where a dozen stores sell old-fashioned cheap sweets and snacks, most of which are priced at less than 50 yen. The location was known as a neighborhood where scores of confectionery manufactures lined the alley. Many tourists come here to enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere of the early Showa period.
The Kurazukuri Street (蔵造りの町並み Kurazukuri no machinami?) is lined with traditional warehouses constructed in a style called kurazukuri (蔵造り?) and maintains the style of the Edo period. The city of Kawagoe started seeing kurazukuri-style warehouses in the aftermath of a great fire that consumed one-third of the old Kawagoe in 1893. Within and beyond the Kurazukuri Street, many warehouses from the 18th and 19th centuries can still be seen. The Kawagoe Kurazukuri Museum is located in a traditional warehouse built in 1893 and allows its visitors to walk around inside and experience the life of Edo merchants. The artisan shops in the area include Machikan, a sword and knife manufacturer in operation for generations.
Kawagoe Festival is held every year on the third Saturday and Sunday of October. In 2005, it was designated as a "National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property".
Sister city relations
- Nakasatsunai, Hokkaido, since November 2002
- Obama, Fukui, since November 1982
- Tanagura, Fukushima, since January 1972
- Autun, France, since October 2002
- Offenbach am Main, Germany, since August 1983
- Salem, Oregon, USA, since August 1986
- 川越市自転車シェアリングを実施します [Kawagoe to introduce bicycle sharing scheme] (in Japanese). Japan: City of Kawagoe. 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- Kawagoe City website. Retrieved on 5 September 2008
- Kawagoe City website. Retrieved on 4 September 2008
- Kawagoe Kuradukuri Museum website. Retrieved on 4 September 2008
- The Traditionalist Afar magazine
- Kawagoe Festival official website Retrieved 21 January 2013
- 姉妹友好都市交流 [Twin cities] (in Japanese). Japan: Kawagoe International Center. 2003. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
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