Kawagoe’s (川越) main street, Kura no Machi Ichibangai Street, is filled with houses from the good old Edo period. As we have previously introduced you to the must-visit cafes on the street, we thought to bring you a list of spots where you can enjoy various workshops and/or activities around Kawagoe’s landmark, Toki no Kane Clock!
If you haven’t read our article on Kawagoe’s must-visit cafes on Kura no Machi Ichibangai Street, refer to HERE for more details (^_-)-☆.
- Dyeing Studio Inaki (染色工房稲木)
- Matsumoto Soy Sauce Store (松本醤油商店)
- glass Art Blue moon (吹きガラス工房 Blue moon)
- Kawagoe Activity Workshop Aoitori (川越体験工房 青い鳥)
- Shōyuōkoku Kawagoe Toki no Kane Shop (醤遊王国 川越時の鐘店)
Dyeing Studio Inaki (染色工房稲木)
If you have a passion for craft making, you might be interested in a type of dyeing technique unique to Tokyo called Tokyo Yūzen (東京友禅). Yūzen is a dyeing method where patterns are colored by hand drawing.
At Dyeing Studio Inaki, you can color on various items such as clothes, tote bags, hair clips, and phone straps. Because you can take the finished product with you straight after the workshop, you can tour Kawagoe with the unique item you just made!
What is used to decorate the studio’s interior is clothing dyed in the Tokyo Yūzen technique. From gorgeous kimonos to t-shirts that can be worn day-to-day, the method can be used to create a variety of patterns.
Brushes and dyes are most likely placed on the table upon arrival if you have booked a session with the studio. There will also be various stencils available if you aren’t confident with your drawings. With many stencils having a Japanese icon or features as the pattern, you will easily have a unique Japanese souvenir to take with you as you walk out of the studio. They even have a Toki no Kane Clock stencil!
The workshop usually takes from 30 to 60 minutes. But with so many stencils and colors to choose from, you might end up needing more time to complete your Tokyo Yūzen dyeing (´▽｀*).
The cost of the workshop varies depending on what you choose to dye with. The cheapest workshop costs 1,500 yen.
Important: Please ensure you have someone who understands Japanese in your group if you want to participate in the workshop.
Dyeing Studio Inaki’s Business Hours and Access Information
- The studio is open from 10 am to 5 pm.
- The last admission is at 4 pm.
- Dyeing Studio Inaki is around a 10-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station.
- If you plan to take a bus, get off at Nakachō (仲町). The studio is then a 3 to 5-minute walk.
Matsumoto Soy Sauce Store (松本醤油商店)
Just a block behind Kawagoe Pudding, there is a facility where you can learn about the traditional Japanese way of soy sauce making. Matsumoto Soy Sauce Store was opened in 1830. Until now, the soy sauce made there still uses the same natural manufacturing method with about 40 cedar barrels that have been used since 1830!
The soy sauce made there uses mainly soybeans harvested from Saitama Prefecture, Kawagoe’s high-quality groundwater, and sun-dried salt. The most unthinkable ingredient is wheat. Apparently, grain is required for the brewing process, so the resulting soy sauce is sweeter and has more aroma.
The raw ingredients are then manually mixed and fermented naturally by adding homemade malt.
The raw, unrefined mash is then brewed naturally without temperature controls for at least one year. When the barrels are opened again, the mash has already turned to a deep shade of red that the brewed mash is nearly black! The soy sauce is then squeezed out from the mash by placing heavy stones on the wrapped mash. Apparently, this last step takes as long as three days!
The raw soy sauce is then heated before it is ready to be bottled. The resulting soy sauce has a traditional flavor that dates back to the Edo period. The mineral and salt-riched soy sauce leftovers can then be used as cow’s feed.
Soy Sauce Products and Factory Tour
Besides their different flavored-soy sauce, soy sauce-based pickles are also available.
There is even soy sauce-flavored pudding!
If you are interested in seeing how the soy sauce is made, join one of their free factory tours held at 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm on weekends and public holidays (the weekday 1 pm tour may come back after COVID-19).
Reservation is not required, and you can refer to their website HERE for more information.
Matsumoto Soy Sauce Shop’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Matsumoto Soy Sauce Shop is open from 9 am to 6 pm.
- Matsumoto Soy Sauce Shop is around a 12-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station and a 23-minute walk from Kawagoe Station.
glass Art Blue moon (吹きガラス工房 Blue moon)
There is a glassblowing art workshop next to Matsumoto Soy Sauce Shop. In fact, the workshop was the soy sauce shop’s warehouse up until recently. The colorful glassware will catch your attention as you walk into the stylish gallery space. The glassware is all handmade. If you want to bring any of them home, you have to be quick before someone else purchases them!
At the back of the shop is the workshop where all of the gorgeous glassware is created. Let the staff know if you want to make one as a souvenir. You might be able to enjoy a glassblowing session without making a reservation.
The staff there are experienced in guiding amateurs to safety and to successfully making the glassware of their choice. Before handing you the equipment, they will ensure that you understand the process thoroughly so that art can be created without failure.
Making Your Glassware
After deciding what glassware you want to make, you then need to decide its shape and color. Depending on the day of the visit, you will most likely be given 17 different colors and a couple of shapes to choose from.
The difficult processes will be completed by/with the staff, including the glassblowing. So even children can participate in the workshop. As you can imagine, inflating molten glass isn’t an easy job, especially when the step is to blow as many times to form the correct shape repeatedly. So leaving this part of the process to the professional would be the wisest choice after you have your fill of blowing into the blowpipe.
The glassblowing session takes around 30 to 45 minutes and costs 4,500 yen. If it is a bit too pricy for you, there are also pendant or chopsticks stand-making workshops that you can join, ranging from 900 to 1,400 yen.
Important: As further firing/cooling is required, the shop will send out the final product to you in a week’s time. While it will be more costly, they can also send it to an overseas address if you are not able to wait that long.
Tip: If your trip to Japan is more than 7 days, consider visiting the glass Art Blue moon in the first few days so the workshop can send the finished product to your hotel while you are still in the country to avoid the extra cost of international shipping.
glass Art Blue moon’s Business Hours and Access Information
- glass Art Blue moon is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm except for Wednesdays.
- glass Art Blue moon is around a 15-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station and around a 20-minute walk from Kawagoe Station.
- You can also take Tobu Bus’ Shinmeichō Shako Line (神明町車庫行き) and get off at Nakachō (仲町), and walk for around 3 to 5 minutes.
Kawagoe Activity Workshop Aoitori (川越体験工房 青い鳥)
If glassblowing sounds like too much work for you or you want to take the finished product straightaway, visit Aoitori for their glasswork workshop. The glass art you can make there is of a smaller scale but equally gorgeous!
Some of the glasswork you can make at Aoitori is by melting different colored glass rods or using special tools to engrave images on glassware. Other craftwork workshops are a lot simpler, such as candle making. But we would recommend booking a glasswork-making workshop because it is more specialized and can’t be done just anywhere. Particularly seeing the glass accessories displayed on the wall, you might be inspired to create one yourself on the spot!
After your glass bead is completed, you can attach it to a hair tie, a phone strap, or a necklace, making it a souvenir you can showcase as you walk around Kawagoe!
☛ If you aren’t sure what color rods you want to use to color the glass bead, the readily made ones for sale at the workshop would be a good reference.
☛ Get the staff to help you turn your glass bead into an accessory. Some people would find it harder than it looks!
For a list of Aoitori’s workshops and to book a reservation, refer to their website HERE. You can translate the webpage to English using Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.
Kawagoe Activity Workshop Aoitori’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Aoitori is open from 10:30 am to 6 pm.
- Depending on the reservation situation, it may close at 5:30 pm.
- The workshop is around a 10 to 15-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station and a 25-minute walk from Kawagoe Station.
Shōyuōkoku Kawagoe Toki no Kane Shop (醤遊王国 川越時の鐘店)
Opposite Starbucks Coffee Kawagoe Kanetsuki-dōri Shop is a soy sauce shop. You might question, “what’s so exciting about soy sauce?” Well, this is where you find out that soy sauce can come in many flavors! You will be surprised by the number of different flavored-soy sauces the shop sells, and we haven’t even started on their soy sauce-flavored snacks!
The soy sauce maker, Yugeta Soy Sauce (弓削多醤油), was founded in 1924. The main shop is in Hidaka City, also in Saitama Prefecture. Since its establishment, it has developed many different flavored soy sauces, that the shop almost has a soy sauce to correspond to each traditional Japanese dish!
If you want a recommendation as to which flavor to bring home, the Yuzu-flavored soy sauce (柚子しょうゆ) is a good choice. The sour taste of the citrus fruit goes perfectly well with tofu and/or salad.
While the idea might sound funny, we recommend giving their soy sauce-flavored ice cream a try. Similar to the soy-sauce flavored churro at Disney Resort in Tokyo, you might be pleasantly surprised by the ice cream (^_-)-☆.
If you love rice cakes, their Mitarashi Dango is freshly grilled after a thin layer of soy sauce is brushed over it. Once you smell that slightly burnt scent, it is going to be hard to stop drilling!
Furthermore, you can experience squeezing out the soy sauce from the soy sauce mash at Shōyuōkoku Kawagoe Toki no Kane Shop for free!
Shōyuōkoku Kawagoe Toki no Kane Shop’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Shōyuōkoku Kawagoe Toki no Kane Shop is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm except for Tuesdays.
- The soy sauce shop is a 15-minute walk from Honkawagoe Station and a 25-minute walk from Kawagoe Station.
Exploring Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street
On the way to Kawagoe’s traditional township, you might walk past Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street. So how about stopping 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!
If that sounds like a good idea, refer to our Guide to the Taishō Roman Yume-dōri Street!
Other Attractions in Kawagoe
Besides the workshops, Kawagoe also has historical and cultural attractions, shops and restaurants, and museums that might interest you.
So refer to our Guide to the Little Edo, Kawagoe, for more travel ideas!