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Sunday, April 29, 2012
10:17 PM

// TokyoTravel-DayOne // TokyoTravel-DayTwo // TokyoTravel-DayThree //


A morning like any other, we would grab our breakfast on our way so we could shake off the early-morning sleepiness. And on the fourth day, we passed by ハッピーフクロウ, a pastry shop located in Ikebukuro Station. How could we resist these adorable owl-shaped pastries!

{池袋駅限定スウィーツ - ハッピーフクロウ}

{Owl-shaped pastries come in different flavored fillings}

So I just found out that there is a statue of an owl located near the center of the city called Ikefukurō-zō (いけふくろう像), meaning lake owl statue. This statue has become a famous meeting spot along the lines of the statue of Hachikō located outside of Shibuya Station. I remember sharing about the statue of Hachikō, on my previous post.

Japan's rail network is well known for its speed and efficiency. Train travel in Japan, whether on a super-fast Shinkansen bullet train or a Japanese local train, is one of the best ways to see the country.

{Train travel in Japan}

Shibuya Station ➖➖➖ JR Yamanote Line ➖➖➖ Ikebukuro Station ➖➖➖ Tōbu Tōjō Line ➖➖➖ Kawagoe Station WE ARE HERE!

{Japanese school kids - 可愛い}

We took a 30 mins train ride from Ikebukuro Station and arrived at Kawagoe Station. As you probably already know, we were heading to Kawagoe, a city located 40km north of Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture.

Without a clue as to how to get to our destination, we decided to take a taxicab to Kawagoe. Somehow, we made a negative contribution to the constant flow of noisy traffic going by, that made it pretty hard for ourselves to feel the complete ancient Japanese traditions.

A town of history: Edo, Koedo Kawagoe
(Read more on Koedo Kawagoe)

Kawagoe City flourished as a commercial town in the 17th century. The city has been designated as a significant traditional buildings preservation district for groups of historic buildings where rows of magnificent merchants' houses in the traditional storehouse-style stand side-by-side. It is called "Ko-edo" or "Little Edo" because of its city architecture and its warehouse style buildings still attract visitors with the atmosphere of the Edo period.

{Toki no Kane; Bell of Time}

{Jinrikisha; Rickshaw}

{Olden days post letter box}

Kawagoe is proud of its popular spots such as its landmark buildings. One of them being the Bell of Time (時の鐘), Toki no Kane. A 16 meters high, three-tiered clock tower, that has been telling time in the Town of Koedo for 350 years. The current clock tower is the 4th generation and was rebuilt in 1893 after the Great Fire of Kawagoe. The beautiful tone of the bell adds to the ambiance of Koedo Kawagoe, blending in with the color of the sky, scenery of the town, and the lingering scent. It is said that the bell can be heard four times a day (3:00am, 12:00pm, 3:00pm, 6:00pm).

{Traditional street food of Kawagoe}

{Japanese snacks selling on the streets}

{Display articles, including celebrity pictures}

Kawagoe is an interesting area for a day trip, with plenty of history to see, amazing sites to visit, fantastic and unique shopping places for Japanese snacks and souvenirs...

{Provisional shop in a traditional house}

{Restaurant in a traditional house}

Make Kawagoe your home while you explore this wonderful town. By that I mean, you should feel relax in this rather slow-paced town. Compared to the busy city street in Tokyo.

{Something very different to see - Gasoline stand}

{Cross of tangled electric wires against the blue sky}

Plenty of fun to look out for. Find your childhood stationary and toys... I remember the simple paper ball that gave me so much fun. It comes in a neat fold pack. As you blow the air in, it will infinite to take the shape of the ball. Anyone plays the paper ball?

{Stationary and toys for the kids in us}

{Gachapon machines - Widely used throughout the world for the capsule toys}

We chanced upon a takoyaki shop and decided to have a quick bite as we had late dinner almost every night since we were always too engrossed in shopping. At the same time, we got to keep ourselves warm in the shop. You don't know how cold it is!

As I watched the cook prepared the food, I took note of the processes. First, he poured batter into the takoyaki pan. Then, he added tenkasu. Next, he added diced octopus. After cooking, it was brushed with takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise, and topped with aonori and katsuobushi before served.

(Are you hungry now?)
{Takoyaki - A popular griddled batter Japanese snack}

After satisfying our stomachs, we continued walking along the streets and spotted a large crowd gathered outside a shop. Out of curiosity, we checked out the shop to find out 'what's in store' for us...

{A small crowded Japanese food shop}

{A wide variety of Japanese snacks}

We are allowed to taste all types of food available before we decided to bring home some of our favorite snacks to share with our families and friends. The snacks tasted so good, especially because they were freshly prepared. If I remember correctly, most of the food will expire in 3 weeks time.

{Cigarette store along the street}

Across the street, there is a cigarette store. If you didn't already know, there are cigarette vending machines located along most streets in Japan. These machines will require a smart card called Taspo, issued only to people who are at least 20, the legal smoking age. Alternative, you can visit a cigarette store to find a large selection of cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, as well as pipes and other smoking supplies.

As we strolled through the town, I found myself greatly admiring the groups of historic buildings. Even the new buildings are built using strict heritage rules. This town has an extraordinary sense of place and a total feel of history......

Looking at the details of these traditionally furnished houses... make me want to fully experience living in a traditional Japanese house with sliding shōji doors and tatami flooring.

{Traditional Japanese house - Sliding shōji door and tatami flooring}

Here you can see how the Japaneses advertise their products to the market. Everything about this. The sign board and display cabinets against the wood. The black and white looked so good against the nature color combinations. A little pastel colors to bring out the light. I like it like that!

And below are a few of my favorite shops for unique gifts. The shops sell some must have souvenirs from Japan such as Japanese chopsticks, Japanese snacks, Japanese porcelain, and many more... all these gifts are worth buying for your family and friends.

{Ancient displays x Japanese postcards}

{Hashioki; Chopstick rest}

{Kanji; Chopstick}

{Japanese amazing lunch boxes and others}

{Famous sweets and snacks from Japan}

{Japanese porcelains bowls, ware dishes, etc}

It was said that while you're in Kawagoe, there are chances of you seeing Japanese in kimono. However, all we see is Japanese in yukata. According to Wikipedia, "A kimono is a silk gown, typically consisting of at least one inner garment and one outer silk layer, with a multitude of other accessories that are used for decoration and to hold the whole thing together. A yukata is a less formal gown consisting of only one layer that may be either printed silk or cotton, and is traditionally worn in the summer." So, don't be confused.

Anyway, that reminds me of us in yukata. Oh, how I miss dancing bon dance during the Summer Festival @ The Japanese School. I'm really glad my friends brought me there to experience the festival...

{Qi. Jas. Ner. Na}

When we are about to leave the town... we spotted a retro-style bus, and believed that it goes around the town. So I researched and found out two types of buses; Koedo Loop Bus and Koedo Famous Spots Loop Bus, that show tourists around all the famous places.

{Loop Bus - Ride the retro-style bus around the town}

Walking around Kawagoe, to see all the sightseeing spots, would be quite arduous. Hence, if you would like to take a shorter but efficient tour, the loop bus is most convenient.

Kawagoe Station ➖➖➖ Tōbu Tōjō Line ➖➖➖ Ikebukuro Station ➖➖➖ JR Yamanote Line ➖➖➖ Harajuku Station WE ARE HERE!

I believe many of you know about Harajuku, a fashion capital of the world, known for its unique street fashion. The area has two main shopping streets, Omotesandō and Takeshita-dōri. On that evening, we focused on Takeshita Street as it caters to youth fashion. A pedestrian-only street lined with fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants.

{The enormous crowd in Harajuku}

Of course, you won't want to miss eating the Harajuku crêpe. I was introduced to two crepe stands, namely Angels Heart and Marion Crepes, directly opposite each other. Lisa, who has tried both before, recommended Angels Heart! I personally would choose this as well, since I find the name sounds more attractive! Don't you agree with me? ♥

There is a wide selection of savory and sweet crepes. Always make fresh. I had the strawberry and cheesecake flavor (¥480). As I couldn't withstand the winter's cold, my teeth were chattering so bad I could barely chew on the crepe. Such a waste.... but why do I miss the taste now. I guess it is so good I wish I could go back there again!

{Angels Heart - Must try crepe!}

We had an interesting walk from Harajuku to Shibuya that let us experienced all of the trendy places in between. Takeshita-dori > Meiji-dori > Omote-sandō > Aoyama-Dori > Shibuya

After a long and tiring yet fulfilling day, we were back at Shibuya. As mentioned before, we were too engrossed in shopping, we would miss the dinner hour. But not to worry, we had the best curry instant noodle that is selling in the nearby convenience store. You can try their 'lok lok' too! Nom~

End of Day Four. Stay tuned for TokyoTravel-DayFive...

{Some photos credited: Lisa}


jqMEow |

be happy.
love life.

09 July 1990

Typical ♋ian;
I'm a suffering soul and sometimes lose control of my emotions. I need you to be understanding and not give up on me.

I don't want to own anything until I know I've found the place where me and things belong together.

✉ tan.jiaqi@live.com

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