First, you should head to Kawagoe, once a merchant city, often called ‘Little Edo’ because there are a few streets that can give you a perfect impression of the Edo era architecture.
The architectural style of the buildings is called ‘Kurazukuri’.
Get some extra calories and try sweets, ice cream, freshly made warabi mochi, sweet potato chips at Kurazukuri and the cheap sweets on the street – Candy Alley – that is called Kashiya Yokochō.
Kawagoe Festival Museum contains interesting artefacts, including original floats that take part in the festival procession (the festival is, by the way, over 350 years old!).
Don’t miss the Time Bell Tower, the most famous landmark of the place, too!
If you want to get not only cultural, but gastronomical experience too, there are a few options available too.
Unagi, or fresh water eel, is definitely a must try at Saitama Prefecture! For instance, Ogakiku restaurant established in 1807 offers kabayaki (specially prepared eel covered in sauce) over rice. It was long believed that exactly this dish provides you with energy and stamina to survive Japanese summer.
If you’re looking for for the first hand experience, Kawagoe has things to offer too. For instance, you can attend a workshop at Kameya cafe founded in 1783 and challenge your cooking abilities while preparing Soybean Japanese sweets! You use coloured white and read soy bean paste and shape it as clay by hand and with a few tools. Nothing complicated but highly enjoyable!
If you have an opportunity to travel, don’t miss Saitama city, the main city of Saitama prefecture, too!
Pop into the first Public Omiya Bonsai Art museum in the world. Bonsai is a full-grown tree usually less than a meter tall potted in a basin, and the desired shape of the tree is acquired by cutting, pruning, and wiring. Some of the trees in the museum are over 1000 years old!
There are two general types of bonsai depending on a tree. Shohaku stays the same throughout the year and is usually represented by pines and junipers. Zoki changes with seasons: foliage changes colour or blooms appear, represented by maples, azalea and others.
The best way to admire it is to squat a bit and to look up at it. Pay attention to how the roots spread (Neburi), how the lowest part of the trunk looks like (Tachi-agari), the balanced branching of the plant (Edaburi), and, finally, leaves or pine needles.
If some stones are added to the potted plant to create some sort of landscape, this is called Suiseki. You will also learn many other things there such as why bonsai gardens became so popular in Omiya (former city, now part of Saitama) and how to distinguish the face and back of bonsai!
Not just the bonsai viewing is on offer at Saitama – you can also create your own bonsai at Bonsai Restaurant Omiya!
It’s located a short walk from the museum. Just look at this cutie I’ve made at the workshop!
Hope you enjoyed my today’s post!
Follow me on Instagram
Anna | London & Beyond
◈ featured in Vogue, CNN, Genic magazine
◈ Science journalist