Just a 30-minute train ride from Tokyo, Kawagoe (川越) in Saitama Prefecture (埼玉県) is where you can timeslip into the Japanese township in the Edo and the Meiji/Taishō periods. Getting off at Honkawagoe Station, the first part of Kawagoe that is filled with the retro atmosphere is the 300-meter long, Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street (大正浪漫夢通り). If you stop by the street before heading into the area filled with houses in the Edo period style, your visit to Kawagoe will be a tour back in time in reverse chronological order!
The street consists of many shops and restaurants operating since the Edo period, albeit most have been renovated since Japan opened up to the world. Therefore many buildings are in the Taishō period style, consisting of concrete buildings instead of traditional wooden structures.
While the Taishō era only lasted for 15 years in the early 20th century, it was the period of time when Japan rapidly modernized with the Western culture deeply rooted in Japan.
How to Get to Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street
The street is just around a 10-minute walk from Seibu Railway’s Honkawagoe Station or a 20-minute walk from JR or Tobu Railway’s Kawagoe Station. But if you don’t want to walk, you can take the Tobu Koedo Loop Bus (小江戸名所めぐりバス) and get off at Nakamachi (仲町).
Tip: Many shops on Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street are closed by 7 pm.
For information about how to get to Kawagoe and Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street, please refer to our article on Kawagoe.
The Recommended Cafes, Restaurants, and Attractions on or Close to Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street
- Shimano Coffee Taishō-kan (シマノコーヒー大正館)
- Ajinomise Iseya Japanese Confectionary Shop (味の店いせや)
- Wood Bakers Kawagoe (ウッドベイカーズ 川越店)
- Tsuki Usagi Cafe (月うさぎ)
- Udon Tsumugi (うどん土麦)
- Renkeiji Temple (蓮馨寺)
- Iseya Japanese Confectionary Shop (伊勢屋)
- Nakamachi Information Center (仲町観光案内所)
Explore Kawagoe With a Guided Tour
If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charms of Kawagoe, how about joining one of the below tours? You can also hire a professional photographer to capture your visit!
- Uncovering the Hidden Treasures of Kawagoe
- Half-Day Kawagoe Walking Tour
- Koedo Kawagoe Customized Private One-Day Tour from Tokyo
- Oishi Park, Oshinohakkai, and Koedo Kawagoe Day tour from Shinjuku
- 1-Hour Kawagoe Photography Session
Tip: Exploring Kawagoe in the traditional Kimono can be a great way to explore the traditional township. Refer to HERE to book a dress-up session!
Shimano Coffee Taishō-kan (シマノコーヒー大正館)
One of the best places on Taisho Roman Yume-dōri Street to get a vibe of the Taishō period is Shimano Coffee Taishō-kan. It is exactly the kind of cafe that existed everywhere in Japan in the early 20th century.
While the cafe’s retro look might not be too inviting, it is one of the most popular cafes on the street. Shortly after it opens, most seats are usually filled by regulars!
While the cafe’s retro look might not be too inviting, it is one of the most popular cafes on the street. Shortly after it opens, most seats are usually filled by regulars!
Again, all are in Japanese, but there are more than 10 types of home-roasted coffee on the menu. And they are all brewed with a siphon! So whether you would like a cup of espresso or cappuccino, pronounce the word slowly, and the owner/staff should be able to make your morning coffee for you (^_-)-☆.
The Taishō vibe isn’t just coming from its decorations. Even the food served at Shimano Coffee Taishō-kan would bring back memories, depending on your age! For example, their pudding is harder and firmer and is served with whipped cream and fruits.
Another highlight of the cafe is its homemade cheesecake. There are a few rare flavors, such as sweet potato or cherry blossom (offered in early spring only).
In addition, if you like their roasted cafe, you can purchase the roasted coffee beans from Shimano Coffee Taishō-kan.
Shimano Coffee Taishō-kan’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Shimano Coffee Taishō-kan is open from 8 am to 7 pm.
- The cafe is a 20-minute walk from Kawagoe Station and a 10-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station.
Ajinomise Iseya Japanese Confectionary Shop (味の店いせや)
On your way to Shimano Coffee Taishō-kan, this three-story may catch your attention. The building, with its unique arch-roof, houses a Japanese sweets maker that opened in 1935. The long-established confectionery store offers handmade Wagashi (Japanese sweets).
While the ingredients are simple, the secret to its deliciousness is sticking to the Wagashi-making method used in the good old days without cutting corners. This is why there is often a small crowd in front of the shop, waiting for their number plates to be called.
At the entrance, you might notice a small mean-looking black-bodied statue sitting on the altar. It isn’t just a decoration but the shop’s guardian deity, Onbasama (姥尊). It is said that the deity was ceremonially transferred from Niigata Prefecture’s Mt. Gozu (五頭山) when the shop was opened. She is the god who looks after women’s and children’s happiness.
The must-try item at Iseya is the pink, sugar-reduced sushi-like Suama (すあま). Sweet potato Yokan (羊羹), a Japanese jelly type of confectionary, is another must-buy unique to Kawagoe but is usually only available in autumn when the sweet potatoes are freshly harvested.
While it doesn’t look too enticing, the Karami Mochi (からみ餅) is another simple but delicious dish for radish or savory dessert lovers. And if you aren’t too adventurous, the Yaki Dango (焼だんご) and Mitarashi Dango (みたらしだんご) rice cakes will be something you won’t regret buying.
If you don’t want to eat while walking, there is a bench in front of the shop for you to sit on. The shop will also take care of the garbage/wrapping after you finish eating.
Ajinomise Iseya’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Ajinomise Iseya’s is open daily from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm except for Wednesdays.
- The confectionery shop is a 20-minute walk from Kawagoe Station and a 10-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station.
- Ajinomise Iseya is just located next to Shimano Coffee Taishō-kan.
Wood Bakers Kawagoe (ウッドベイカーズ 川越店)
Italian restaurants can be found everywhere. But how often do you come across one in a Taishō period townhouse over 100 years old? So if you are interested in dining in such a setting, visit Wood Bakers Kawagoe!
The restaurant that nicely combines both Japanese and modern elements has a relaxing atmosphere. This is especially true for their terrace seats. If you have six or more people in your group, you can also book one of the Japanese-style private rooms renovated from the house’s warehouse!
The must-order at Wood Bakers Kawagoe is its stone oven-baked pizza. Baked at a temperature as high as 540 degrees, the crust has a crunchy skin but is chewy on the inside. As always, the pizza menu has a few vegetarian options for you to choose from. Apart from the typical Margherita or a special Margherita with extra cheese (よくばりチーズのマルゲリータ), you can also go for the Colorful Vegetable Pizza (彩り野菜のピッツァ).
If you feel you haven’t been consuming enough vegetables, remember to order a Bagna càuda or cheese fondue. The vegetables will be even more delicious after dipping them into cheese or Bagna càuda sauce.
For more information about the restaurant, refer to the official website HERE.
Tip: There are times when the Wood Bakers Kawagoe’s chef may not do a perfect job cooking the pizza. So if you find the cheese on your pizza cold, talk to the staff.
Wood Bakers Kawagoe’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Wood Bakers Kawagoe is open from
- 11:30 am to 15:30 pm for lunch and 5 pm to 10 pm for dinner.
- The last order is taken 30 minutes before the restaurant closes.
- The restaurant is a 20-minute walk from Kawagoe Station and a 10-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station.
Tsuki Usagi Cafe (月うさぎ)
Tsuki Usagi is a stylish cafe specializing in Warabi Mochi (わらび餅), which is a chilled mochi rice cake that has a jelly structure. The mochi is made from bracken starch and is usually topped with sweet soybean powder and dark molasses/syrup.
Through the cafe’s glass wall, you can spend some quiet moments enjoying the traditional dessert while gazing at Renkeiji Temple’s precinct.
What is special about this cafe is how the Mitarashi Dango is served. Instead of serving the rice cake skewers with the sweetened soy sauce brushed over, Tsuki Usagi Cafe has its own fondue style! Not only can you decide how much Mitarashi sauce to apply to your rice cakes, but you can also use the heated sauce to warm up the rice cake!
Moreover, apart from the traditional way where the Warabi Mochi is topped with sweet soy bean sauce and syrup, you can also try the unique Warabi Mochi Drink at Tsuki Usagi. The idea is similar to bubble tea. But instead of tapioca pearls, it is sliced Warabi Mochi that you will be chewing!
As you walk out the door, the staff will most likely strike the flint to pray for good things to happen to you. It is a simple ritual to pray for prosperity and purification.
Tsuki Usagi Cafe’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Tsuki Usagi is open from 1 pm to 9 pm.
- The restaurant is a 15 to 20-minute walk from Kawagoe Station and a 5 to 10-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station.
Udon Tsumugi (うどん土麦)
If you don’t mind non-vegetarian broth, visit Udon Tsumugi for lunch! It is an udon restaurant in the daytime and an Izakaya at night.
The most popular dish during lunchtime is Cold Lemon Udon (レモンの冷かけうどん). They are not lemon-infused noodles but broth with added lemon juice. In fact, the top of the bowl is covered with lemon slices!
The sour and refreshing taste of lemon with the savory Japanese-style stock is the perfect combination, especially during warmer months. So the supposedly limited-time-only menu to celebrate the restaurant’s opening was made permanent due to the noodle’s popularity.
Important: To avoid the bitterness of the lemon skin sneaking into your soup, take the lemon slices out after gently squeezing the lemon juice with chopsticks and/or a spoon.
Tip: Remember to add some Aonori no Tenkasu (青海苔の天かす) to your noodle soup. The crunchy fried battered pieces from tempura-making have green seaweed added. The oil and seaweed flavor from Aonori no Tenkasu will add another level of taste to your soup!
About the Noodles Served at Udon Tsumugi
Instead of the thicker Musashino Udon (武蔵野うどん) that is found in most restaurants in Saitama Prefecture, the homemade udon at Udon Tsumugi is the slighter thinner Sanuki Udon (讃岐うどん). Not only is the udon in the Kagawa Prefecture style, but the whole wheat flour with wheat germ is from Kagawa too!
While we amateurs wouldn’t know or tell the difference, flours from different parts of Japan and around the world differs. After many trials and errors, the restaurant’s owner, Mr Kobayashi (小林さん), ultimately achieved the perfect flour blend for his udon noodles. The dough is then kneaded overnight before making it into noodles the next day. This is the secret to the noodles being extra chewy!
The restaurant’s name combines Mugi (wheat), the raw ingredient of udon, and Tsu (clay), which is used to make the pottery to hold the noodles. Together, Tsumugi, which can mean spinning, shows how much Mr Kobayashi (小林さん) values each encounter he comes across with the customer.
Just like a lot of care is required to convert fibers into yarn, Mr Kobayashi also puts a lot of thought into his cooking. For example, he would boil the noodle longer, making it easier for the elderly to consume them. You might also notice the noodles served to the older generation aren’t twisted, making it easier for them to eat with chopsticks.
Udon Tsumugi’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Udon Tsumugi is open from 11 am to 3 pm.
- The last order is taken at 2:30 pm.
- Udon Tsumugi is closed on Monday nights and Tuesdays.
- The restaurant is a 20-minute walk from Kawagoe Station and a 5 to 10-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station.
Important: Udon Tsumugi is currently closed for dinner until further notice.
Tip: Udon Tsumugi is a popular restaurant. So if you are keen to dine there but don’t want to wait for a long time, arrive early, ideally before lunchtime!
Renkeiji Temple (蓮馨寺)
At the back of Udon Tsumugi, Renkeiji is the temple in Kawagoe closest to Taishō Roman Yume-dōri. The temple has a serene atmosphere and is rich in history. Since its establishment in the mid-16th century, the locals would go there and pray for various things, especially child-related matters, such as safe delivery.
While many of the buildings in the precinct have a contemporary appearance, Renkeiji was erected in 1549 by the mother of Daidōji Masashige (大道寺政繁), the lord of Kawagoe Domain at the time.
The temple soon became a place for the locals to pray to Buddhas and gods and to seek internal peace. In fact, until Shintoism was separated from Buddhism at the beginning of the Meiji period, Kawagoe Kumano Shrine across the road was a part of Renkeiji.
As a temple with Amida Buddha as the main image, in 1602, Renkeiji became one of the Kantō Eighteen Danrin (関東十八檀林), the official monk cultivation institution in the Edo period. Tokugawa clan’s family crest was thus hung around the precinct, and it is said that even the lord of Kawagoe Domain had to put down his weapon and bow to the temple when passing the temple’s front gate!
Renkeiji’s Purification Fountain
While a purification fountain is common at Japanese shrines and temples, the one at Renkeiji is worth your attention. It is the only two architectures in the precinct that escaped the fate of being burnt to ashes in the big fire in 1893, which destroyed most buildings in Kawagoe.
This purification fountain is one of those artworks that might make you forget about its original purpose. So remember to purify yourself with the water there after you admire the intricate carvings of auspicious animals!
Renkeiji’s Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja (おびんずる様) and the God of Fortune and Longevity: Fukurokuju (福祿寿神)
In front of the main worship hall, you will notice a red monk statue. He is Buddha’s disciple, Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja. It is said that your physical illness will be cured by touching his body. And if you stroke his head, you will become smarter!
So don’t be surprised to see someone touching the statue from head to toe (´▽｀*).
The God of Fortune and Longevity is enshrined on the right of the worship hall, so don’t forget to pray to him for good fortune, prosperity, and longevity!
The Bell Tower, Where the Temple Prays for People’s Happiness
Just like most temples in the world, Renkeiji has a bell tower. The bell made in 1695 is the other building of Renkeiji that remained standing after the great fire hazard in 1893.
Unlike Kawagoe’s landmark, Toki no Kane Bell Tower, Renkeiji’s bell is only rung at 3 pm 18 times. The number of times is taken from the fact that the temple was one of the Kantō Eighteen Danrin. The staff would ring the bell each day to pray for the happiness of those who could hear the clear sound of the bell.
Donryū Shōnin (呑龍上人) and Donryū Day (呑龍デー)
If you can, plan your visit to Renkeiji for the 8th of the month. It is the day when various events take place at the temple, such as performances and flea markets.
Renkeiji is one of the temples that enshrines Donryū Shōnin, who was regarded as a living Buddha and has achieved many miracles. Its main worship hall is thus named Donryū-dō (吞龍堂). You can pray to the Donryū Shōnin for safe delivery. Many also convey their worries to him, as it is said that when he was alive, he traveled across the country and solved all sorts of problems to make people happy.
Tip: Renkeiji is a hidden gem for cherry blossoms! The cherry blossom season at the temple is from late March to early April.
How to Get to Renkeiji Temple
- Renkeiji Temple is a 15 to 20-minute walk from Kawagoe Station and a 5 to 10-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station.
- If you plan to take a bus, get off at Renkeiji-mae (蓮馨寺前).
As confusing as it is, there is another traditional confectionary shop specializing in Dango rice cake over the next street, parallel to Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street. In fact, the two Iseyas are in the same block but on different sides.
The Iseya, with its name written in Chinese characters, established in 1926, has a longer history than its counterpart. In addition to the traditional snacks that have been on the shelf since the early 20th century, the current owner has also added a series of unique Dango rice cake flavors to keep up with the current trades and needs.
Iseya’s Dango rice cakes are a lot more colorful, and the decoration is almost up to the Western cake level! If you are a sweet tooth, we are sure it will take a while to decide on your order. It is just really hard to say no to a rice cake that looks just like Mont Blanc (あんBURANだんご)!
Another one that you might want to try is Yaki Imo Dango (焼きいもだんご). Butter is added to the sweet potato paste, making the paste extra smooth and closer to eating a real sweet potato. Also, you will notice that the paste is slightly burnt. Sugar was sprinkled on the paste before it was slightly grilled to create a grilled sweet potato sort of taste. The added cream and cinnamon powder give another kind of deliciousness (^_-)-☆.
Iseya’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Iseya is open daily from 10:30 am to 5 pm except for Mondays and Wednesdays.
- The restaurant is a 20-minute walk from Kawagoe Station and an 8-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station.
Nakamachi Information Center (仲町観光案内所)
As with any other tourist information center, Nakamachi Information Center is where you can get Kawagoe’s sightseeing pamphlets and store your bags. But because it is situated in a traditional building that blends in so well with the township without obvious signs, you probably would walk straight past it without realizing it is a tourist center (´▽｀*).
Nakamachi Information Center was renovated from a Kimono shop. If you are interested in the clay-walled warehouse Dozō-zukuri (土蔵造り) style houses, you should be welcome to explore the ex-merchant house for free!
There might even be samurai’s armor and gorgeous kimonos on display!
At the back of the warehouse, a Japanese-style passageway leads to Kawagoe’s Warehouse District (蔵造りの町). So if you are in a hurry and have no time to explore the rest of Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street, use this shortcut!
- Nakamachi Information Center is open from 10 am to 5 pm.
- The baggage storage service costs 600 yen per piece. It is only available from 10 am to 4 pm.
The Must-Visit Spots on Kura no Machi Ichibangai Street
After arriving at Kawagoe’s historical township, how about enjoying some delicious desserts on the old township’s main street Kura no Machi Ichibangai?
While sweet potato might sound boring for some, the locals have their way of turning the ordinary ingredient into something extremely yummy!
For more information, refer to our Kura no Machi Ichibangai Street article!
Other Attractions in Kawagoe
Besides shops and restaurants, Kawagoe also has historical attractions, workshops, and museums that might interest you.
So refer to our Guide to the Little Edo, Kawagoe, for more travel ideas!