There is no way around Tokyo when in Japan! Tokyo is simply an amazing and fascinating city for any tourist and first timers coming to Japan. Whenever you think of Japan, you will think of anything available in Tokyo. Bustling crowds, active day and nightlife, history, museums, modern buildings, hi-tech and a never ending and never understandable public transportation system. So here are the Top site you should visit when in Tokyo. Whenever you come here, we’d suggest to spend at least 3 days here to get the most out of it! If you want to organize your day in the most effective way, check out this (coming soon) itinerary and day-to-day plan!
Let’s start with a hidden gem on the outskirts of Tokyo (well, it’s actually located in Saitama…)
Back to the Edo era – Kawagoe
If you feel exhausted by the big buildings and the crowd, while craving for some historical Japan, then head to Kawagoe. Just on the outskirts of the city center, Kawagoe is (well, depending on where you are staying or from which corner of Tokyo you are leaving) around 30-45min by train from Tokyo and actually lies in the Saitama prefecture.
Here you can walk down the streets and see some good looking Edo Period Kurazukuri (clay walled warehouse styled houses) buildings which mostly houses small shops and restaurants with Japanese food and souvenirs and wonder around the little temples. Back in the old times, Kawagoe was called little Edo (so little Tokyo now) due to its importance and strategic location. Now Kawagoe is a hidden gem in Tokyo as it seems to only attract Japanese tourists so far while you can feel a strong Edo era atmosphere here. So you won’t find a lot of tourists from overseas here (not yet). You can spend half a day here and eat some Soba Noodles for lunch and snack traditional sweets at the Kashiya Yokocho (Candy Alley) all in walking distance.
Definitely a trip worthwhile especially on a sunny day!
Ways to get to Kawagoe
Kawagoe station is where you should get off which ever line you are using. The station is home to the JR Saikyo Line as well as the private Tobu Tojo Line.
Check out times and connection on HYPERDIA
Take the Fukutoshin Line (Tokyo Metro) and change to the Tobu Tojo Line (Private) at Wakoshi Station. Both lines have the local, rapid and express versions of the train available. The express would be the fastest.
Travel Time: 45min on the fastest ‘Express’ Option (more on local or Rapid)
Cost: 590 Yen, regardless of if you are using the local, rapid or express version
For JR PASS holders: Take the JR Saikyo Line Rapid from Shibuya Station which will get you directly to Kawagoe Station.
Travel Time: 60min (on Rapid Trains; Longer on the Local version)
Cost: 840 Yen (Free with JR Pass)
Wilson’s advice: Some of the Fukutoshin Express Lines will ‘transform’ to a Tobu Tojo Express Line when in Wakoshi. This means that there is no need to ‘change’ trains and you can simply sit until you can get off at Kawagoe Station. This is due to the shared track system on the trains by different train companies. This means that once the train arrives in Wakoshi, the Fukutoshin Line becomes the Tobu Tojo Line while the train itself remains the same.
Take any JR train to Ikebukuro Station (there are lots of options) and change to the Tobu Tojo Line there.
Travel Time: 35min when using the fastest ‘Express’ option.
Cost: 630Yen (160 Yen from Shinjuku to Ikebukuro and 470 Yen from Ikebukuro to Kawagoe)
For JR PASS holders: Take the JR Saikyo Line Rapid from JR Shinjuku Station, which will get you directly to Kawagoe Station.
Travel Time: 55min
Cost: 760 Yen (Free with JR Pass)