When you Google “Day Trips from Tokyo,” let me tell you what you’ll find so you don’t waste time: Nikko, Kamakura, and Kyoto. When I did that research, I was overwhelmed by the information overload, so I went to my hostel lobby and checked the brochures – something I never do. But it was in doing just that that made me decide where to finally go.
When you talk to anyone in Tokyo, they’ll probably ask if you’re taking any trips outside of Tokyo. “Kyoto?” is what they’ll ask first, but what you should know is that Kyoto is a half-day trip away. Nikko and Kamakura weren’t as far, but according to the brochure I had picked up, they looked just as beautiful and just as touristy (for a good reason).
And then there was Kawagoe.
The description of Kawagoe was the only one without the overused word touristy. That, and with limited time, and limited funds, Kawagoe seemed the most logical Japanese town, for more or less what I was looking for: a glimpse of old Japan. The brochure said it was “30 minutes away by train” but really it turned out to be 1 hour and 20 minutes for me from Akasaka using the Tokyo Metro (but only ¥550).
Maybe not the smartest decision to decide my Tokyo Day Trip off of one photo and one description, but hey, that spontaneity was what I needed to add some more spice to my trip. Just so you know, Kawagoe was the it city back in Japan’s Edo period (1603-1867). Well, the it city for Tokyo, as it was first a popular suburb for trade, and then eventually the adopted town of many of Tokyo’s powerful residents. Today, you may even see signs referring to Kawagoe as Koedo or Little Edo, Edo being the name for Tokyo back in the day.
More interesting for you perhaps is that Kawagoe is known for its sweet potatoes, kimono-wearing women, Candy Alley, and wooden architecture. Check out my day trip to Kawagoe in photos here:
Day Trips from Tokyo – Where have you been?