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Do As Tokyo Does Kawagoe - Little Edo
(Entered Mar. 09, 2010)
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30 minutes away from Ikebukuro station, Kawagoe city boasts an area known as 'Little Edo', a section of buildings, shops and warehouses preserved in the style of the Edo period (1603-1868). Despite its proximity to me all these years, I'd never been there until today, though I had heard about it a few times.
Rainy weather isn't ideal for taking photographs, but seeing as how that's all Tokyo has offered me for the past week or so, I decided to take some black and white shots in an effort to capture the dull greyness I've been seeing recently when I step outside.

kawagoe little edo koedo

I'll be honest, 'Little Edo' wasn't what I expected. The English version of the promotional website says:
"...Take a stroll through the town in a kimono and you'll feel as if you've traveled back in time to ancient Edo. You'll be able to see the traditional and pure Japan in Kawagoe which you can't see in Tokyo..."
However it was pretty hard for me to feel any 'ancient' Japanese traditions with a constant flow of noisy traffic going by.
Not only that, there was no way for me to get any really nice shots of the buildings without standing in the middle of the road or including cars in the pictures.
Seeing how there is really only one main 'traditional' street, it would make a lot more sense if traffic was diverted and the street was for pedestrians only.

kawagoe rikisha little edo

Patience, and walking up and down the main street about 6 times in total (maybe 10 minutes one way), gave me a few brief chances to shoot scenes with no cars in them. It was either that, or shoot 'above' the traffic, as in the picture below.

kawagoe little edo roof

One of the most famous landmarks is the 'Bell of Time' a clock tower that is supposedly 350 years old.

kawagoe tower little edo

The whole time I kept thinking to myself how great these buildings looked in comparison with Japan's modern architectural style, and how the newer buildings in the area stuck out like sore thumbs. With the exception of some of Tokyo's super moden buildings such as the ones in the Marunouchi and Shinagawa districts, most structures in Tokyo today look like they were modelled after cardboard boxes.

kawagoe little edo tokyo

Having a nice pedestrian walk to admire them from though would've helped a lot to make my experience here actually enjoyable, even in the rain.

kawagoe little edo old tokyo

As it was though, the narrow sidewalks, cars, noise, and pollution all conspired to make my visit stressful and generally unsatisfying. My overall verdict? Well the buildings themselves are nice to look at, but if you're looking for a pleasant way to spend a weekend afternoon, you might want to give Kawagoe a pass.


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