Japan // Around Tokyo //


Along Chūō-dōri, around 200m before the main enclave of kurazukuri, you’ll pass a small shrine, Kumano-jinja (熊野神社), beside which is a tall storehouse containing a magnificent dashi float. At the next major crossroads, on the right-hand side is the old Kameya okashi (sweet) shop, warehouse and factory. These buildings now house the Yamazaki Art Museum (山崎美術館), dedicated to the works of Meiji-era artist Gaho Hashimoto. Some of his elegant screen paintings hang in the main gallery, while there are artistic examples of the sugary confections once made here in the converted kura (storehouses); entry includes a cup of tea and okashi.

Continuing up Chūō-dōri, you’ll pass several craft shops, as well as the Kurazukuri Shiryōkan (蔵造り資料館), a museum housed inside an old tobacco wholesaler’s, one of the first kurazukuri to be rebuilt after the great fire of 1893. Just north of here is the Kawagoe Festival Hall (川越まつり会館) which houses two magnificent dashi floats along with videos of past festivals and various displays; there are no English descriptions.

Opposite the Kurazukuri Shiryōkan, just off Chūō-dōri, you won’t miss the Toki-no-Kane (時の鐘), the wooden bell tower (rebuilt in 1894) that was used to raise the alarm when fires broke out. An electric motor now powers the bell, which is rung four times daily. Returning to Chūō-dōri and taking the first street off to the west will bring you to Yōju-in (養寿院), another handsomely wrought temple with pleasant grounds. Just north of here is the Kashiya Yokochō (菓子屋横町), or confectioners’ alley, a picturesque pedestrian street still lined with several colourful sweet and toy shops.

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