In the prefecture of Saitama, there is a special place, an intact village that has remained of the Edo Period (1603-1868). It is called Kawagoe and is one of the most famous places to see in the prefecture. It is especially an area called Koedo that has retained its original atmosphere, and these are the places you should definitely have on your to-see list when you take a day trip from Tokyo to Kawagoe.
This is a symbolic bell-tower that was built 400 years ago and still rings 4 times a day at 6 am, noon, 3 pm and 6 pm. The tower has a nostalgic feel and sound to it and is a symbol of Kawagoe.
Kashiya Yokocho Alley
This is one of the main streets of Koedo, where you will find many cute little shops for souvenirs, products for daily life and of course all kinds of snacks. There is even a candy store with all kinds of old-fashioned candies of the Edo period and beyond.
In this street, you will find many old warehouses that were converted to shops and restaurants. The wooded structures truly give this street and its side streets a traditional feel. Also nice to check out are the high-end ryotei-style restaurants during lunchtime. In the evenings this type of establishment serves expensive meals, but in the daytime, you can find many restaurants that serve high-quality food for a very reasonable price.
Special Mention: the Kumano Shrine
Hoping to promote people’s health, the Kumano Shrine, or in Japanese “Kumano-Jinja” implemented “Ashibumi Kenkou Road (The Healthy Way Step by Step)”, a path with many embedded pebbles. The small stones, perfectly organized, are beneficial for health because by stimulating the soles of the feet the blood circulation is greatly improved. At first, it can hurt a little or be uncomfortable, but when you walk a little more the feeling becomes pleasant and naturally, the laughter and joy of the walkers is visible while the tour is done. Many visitors to the sanctuary enjoy it.
The sanctuary enclosure is very beautiful and cozy. After balancing the body with the passage of pebbles, there is another interesting activity that awaits the visitor. Right next to the Haiden (front sanctuary) is another small but beautiful sanctuary dedicated to the goddess of prosperity Benzaiten. Normally when arriving at a sanctuary, a 5 yen coin is thrown into the offerings drawer and we proceed to pray. But in this section of this sanctuary, for those people who are looking for economic prosperity there is a whole space of pure water with small fountains where, after praying, a small transparent basket is taken in which you should put bills and coins (really ) to proceed to wash them with sacred water from the sanctuary.
According to legend, if money is washed with Benzaiten water, economic prosperity will come to the person’s life quickly and cleanly. For the Japanese, this is a normal activity and there are people who insert 10,000 yen bills so that the effect is stronger in their lives. Already after balancing the body and laundering money, finally, it is recommended to try your luck. Here the visitor is given a number of hoops (similar to the Frisbee game) and they must point them at three sticks that the sanctuary has. Each stick represents an important aspect of life; Love, money, and study or work. If the visitor manages to throw the hoop and insert it in the desired area, then that person will have very good luck in that aspect. If it launches but fails to insert, then you must personally strive to get ahead in that regard.
As in most sanctuaries, Kumano-Jinja has its own “Omikuji” (Prophecy of the future), and as here the energy of the goddess Benzaiten is present, the Omikuji comes with a small image of the goddess so that it can be carried away. In the letter or somewhere important and thus the energy of the goddess is always with the visitor. The Kumano Sanctuary has activities a bit out of the ordinary, therefore it is highly recommended to visit here and connect with prosperity in a different and dynamic way.
If you discover this picturesque area with a private guide, you will be certain to not skip the best hidden spots and alleyways, and get interesting background stories along the way.