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July 11, 2018

A Day Trip from Tokyo: Kawagoe and Ogawa

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This time, two unique towns on a day trip from Tokyo! We first visit Kawagoe, which prospered as a castle town in the Edo period. Even today, the charming, retro feel of that period remains. Plus, a look at Ogawa, a town that's been producing traditional Japanese paper for over a millennium.

Highlights

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Nakaichi Honten A dried goods store founded in the Edo period. Makes its popular rice balls from rice cooked in bonito broth, which are lathered in soy sauce and slowly grilled over a charcoal fire. They start selling at noon, and always sell out within two hours.

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Haze Shop selling handmade, Japanese-style candles, which are plant-based and generate little soot or wax. This shop's candles are stylish and colorful. With reservations, you can try making them yourself.

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Su Lab A cafe dedicated to the traditional Japanese toys called kendama, which owner Su calls "tools for wordless communication." Even beginners can try out kendama in this relaxed environment.

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Washi no Sato Here you can try making your own washi paper in a one-hour session. Features a museum, located in the former home of a washi-making farmer, where you learn all about this traditional Japanese paper.

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Seiun Shuzo The Ogawa area has exceptionally good water, and sake has been made there for centuries. There are three sake breweries in the city, including this one. With reservations, you can go on a tour that includes a tasting.

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Kawara no Yu A Japanese-style, day-use hot spring. Its alkaline-heavy water with a pH of 10.0 is said to be soft on the skin. Fresh water rotated in daily.

Further Info

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1) Nakaichi Honten
Address: 5-2 Saiwaicho, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken
2) Haze
Address: 1-12-6 Motomachi, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken
3) Su Lab
Address: 2-30-3 Shintomicho, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken
4) Washi no Sato
Address: 441 Mido, Higashichichibu-mura, Chichibu-gun, Saitama-ken
5) Seiun Shuzo
Address: 178 Otsuka, Ogawa-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama-ken
6) Kawara no Yu
Address: 26-2 Kakuyama, Ogawa-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama-ken

Others

Market Terrace (buffet restaurant)
Address: Kawagoe Wholesale Market, 650 Ofukuro, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken
Yamawa (famous kura-zukuri building)
Address: 7-1 Saiwaicho, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken
Ogawa Town Hall (washi manufacturer, etc.)
Address: 55 Otsuka, Ogawa-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama-ken

Reporter

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Cyril Coppini

Nationality:
French
Occupation:
Rakugo performer and translator
When did you first come to Japan?:
September 1997
Reason for coming to Japan:
At the time I was working for the French Government in a cultural center in Fukuoka. A 2-year contract. After that, I decided to stay in Japan to improve my Japanese skills, since I have been learning the language from high-school in my home town, Nice, and came to Tokyo in 2001. Then in Tokyo I kept working for the French government and now my mains occupations are translating from Japanese into French Japanese manga and video games, and performing in Japan and abroad Rakugo, the Japanese art of story-telling.
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