Sightseeing in Saitama: Day Trip with Kimono Rental in Kawagoe - Vikingess Voyages

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sightseeing in Saitama: Day Trip with Kimono Rental in Kawagoe

Just a 30 minutes train ride from Ikebukuro in the northern part of Tokyo lies Kawagoe, a charming little town in Saitama prefecture. You’ll be surprised to find that this little town once was a flourishing castle town, and that it still contains a large collection of houses dating back to the Edo period – this has in fact helped Kawagoe gain its nickname “Little Edo” (子江戸). I have had the pleasure of visiting Kawagoe a number of times through my job as a hotel consultant, but this time was my first time to enjoy the atmosphere of the traditional area of Kawagoe while wearing the traditional Japanese outfit kimono.

I met up with some friends in the morning at Kawagoe Station (川越駅) and walked together to the kimono rental shop situated in the historical area of Kawagoe, a distance that took us around 20 minutes. It was quite a walk, but the roads are mostly straight so as long as you find the right street from the beginning it is easy to get there. There are also busses running from the station that can take you to the traditional area of town in less than 10 minutes. The station Hon-Kawagoe (本川越) is closer to the traditional area, but the only train going there is the Seibu Shinjuku Line so it was not the most convenient station in terms of train access for us.
Renting a kimono in Kawagoe has become a very popular thing to do, and if you want to make sure that they’ll have available time and kimonos for you I suggest that you make a reservation in advance. There are a number of kimono rental stores in the town, but we were lucky and found Kimono Rental NANAKO, a rental shop that also offers a tea ceremony experience as an addition to the regular plan (note that it comes with an additional 500 yen cost).
Choosing kimonos
We opted for their basic rental plan, which came at the cost of 2,500 yen per person (they also have a 5,500 yen couple's plan). We all got to choose which to wear from a big collection of kimonos in all sorts of colors and patterns. 
In addition the girls in our group got their hair done for 700 yen extra. 
Since we were a bigger group it took us a bit longer than expected to get everybody dressed up; including the hair for the girls it took us around 1 ½ hour in total. But considering we were 9 people in total it is understandable that this is not done in an instance. After having finished getting dressed up - so-called kitsuke (着付け) – it was time to explore town. 
One thing I learned from this trip to Kawagoe was that we should have made lunch reservations in advance. Unfortunately all the traditional restaurants in the center of Kawagoe were all too busy to take us in without a reservation. Because of this we couldn’t have the traditional Japanese lunch we had wanted to, which was a bit of a pity. After our slightly plain soba lunch we did however get to enjoy some local specialities, as there are many smaller food stands around town selling smaller dishes for those looking for some light snack.

Below are some photos from our stroll around town:

Locally brewed Coedo beer
Kawagoe's famous landmark; the Bell of Time (Tokino Kane - 時の鐘)

Tea Ceremony

Just before our rental time came to an end it was time for our Japanese tea ceremony experience (茶道体験). The tea ceremony was held inside the kimono rental place on the tatami floor. The daughter of the lady who helped putting on my kimono was in charge of the ceremony – she could tell us that she had been studying the art of the tea ceremony for many years. She gave us a good insight into the basics of the tea ceremony, and all of us got to taste both the tea we had made ourselves and also the tea made by her. The difference was striking, as her tea was a lot more creamy than ours. さすが!I guess that’s what you get with many years of practice.
When the tea ceremony was over it was time to go home to Tokyo again. We were all quite tired after the long day – it is not exactly relaxing to walk around in kimono for that many hours. Still, walking around in Kawagoe in kimono took the experience to a new level, and it is definitely something I would recommend for people who are looking for activities to do while in the Kanto region of Japan. Kawagoe is such a charming place, and if you’re lucky with the timing you should definitely check out their festivals!

You can also check out my video from our day in Kawagoe below:

Basic Info

  • 【Place】
  • Kimono Rental NANAKO in Kawagoe (着物レンタルNANAKO)
  • (Japanese only)
  • 【Access】
  • 〒3500043 埼玉県川越市新富町1-16-6 JOY7ビル3F
  • ※ 2 minutes on foot from Honkawagoe station on Seibu Shinjuku line / 10 minutes on walk from JR Kawagoe station

  • 【Rental fee】
  • Women: 2500 yen ~
  • Male: 4000 yen ~
  • ※ Couple: 1000 yen discount
  • ※ Female hair set: 700 yen (Also needs to be reserved in advance)

  • [What to bring]
  • Girls: a tank top or camisole
  • If it's cold outside you might want to bring heat tech underwear

Related blogposts

Recommended Hotels in Saitama

Ranzan Keikoku Onsen Health Center Heiseirou
Onsen Health Center Heiseirou
Nagatoro Choseikan Ryokan
Nagatoro Choseikan Ryokan
Wadoh Ryokan
Wadoh Ryokan
Kawagoe Prince Hotel
Kawagoe Prince Hotel

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below
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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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