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Kamakura or Kawagoe?

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Melbourne
posts: 23
Kamakura or Kawagoe?

My husband and I will be in Tokyo for 3 days in December. We were wondering which is better for sightseeing Kawagoe or Kamakura? We have been told both are quite traditional towns.

Melbourne Susie

Tokyo and California
Destination Expert
for Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Shinjuku
posts: 13,728
reviews: 30
1. Re: Kamakura or Kawagoe?

Kamakura has so much more to see. There is no comparison:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2166.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6500.html

Tokyo, Japan
posts: 14,633
reviews: 90
2. Re: Kamakura or Kawagoe?

Kawagoe has an alley with some nice old townhouses that are now sweets shops, as well as a fine temple; Kamakura has definitely more to see with important temples and shrines with some other things, as it was once administrative capital. I recommend going to Kamakura (Kenchoji, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, Komachi Street [a bit too touristy], Hase Temple, Daibutu. It is nice to take a ride on Enoden tram along the coast to Enoshima, and walk over to the island [with some religious sites with touristy area]).

I can't really say both are traditional, as they are both bedtowns within an hour from Tokyo. It's more like old cultural heritages dotted here and there.

Tokyo, Japan
posts: 14,633
reviews: 90
3. Re: Kamakura or Kawagoe?

If you like "traditional" neighborhoods, perhaps you might go to Asakusa around Sensoji in Tokyo, and Yanaka behind Ueno Park and Tokyo National Museum. I was there recently after a great visit to the Chinese expostion at the TNM (which was awesome!!). Walked through Tokyo University of Arts to a narrower street with temples and tombs. Bought Taiyakis [baked dough with sweet & salty red bean fillings] from a shop, went over to the staircase known for cats relaxing in the evening. Yanaka Ginza area has a cozy nostalgic feel. There was one teashop selling awesome teapots and cups as well as great green tea.

Tokyo, Japan
posts: 14,633
reviews: 90
4. Re: Kamakura or Kawagoe?

But you shouldn't drop Kamakura in any case.

.
posts: 1,665
reviews: 28
5. Re: Kamakura or Kawagoe?

There's no comparison really... Kamakura is more than just a traditional town, in the 12th century it became the capital of Japan. It has a wealth of important temples and historical sites, known for traditional food, craft (such as lacquerware) & museums - including the National Treasure Museum. Kamakura makes a wonderful day trip from Tokyo.

jnto.go.jp/eng/…golden_tokyo_02.html

http://www.enoden.co.jp/flangu/e1top.htm

BTW Kamakura is by the sea & along the coastal road the area is a surfing mecca - jam packed with people & surfboards in Summer.

Melbourne
posts: 23
6. Re: Kamakura or Kawagoe?

Thanks for all te info. We will definitely go to Kamakura.

Melbourne Susie

SF
Destination Expert
for Fukuoka, Kyushu-Okinawa
posts: 2,480
reviews: 12
7. Re: Kamakura or Kawagoe?

True, more historical shrines in Kamakura but unless you know the history you will just skim the looks only or be templed out. Perhaps only eye catching things may be the bronze Buddha that is large enough you can go inside or Enoshima island. Also Kamakura is very affluent & renovated to become a young city and not many traditional buildings left. The shopping alley is along the rail track between the JR Kamakura station and Hachimangu shrine.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2166.html

On the other hand, Kawagoe is called the little Edo(Samurai period) & still has old warehouse district and lined with small traditional stores.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6500.html

Either is good depending on your interests.

Melbourne
posts: 23
8. Re: Kamakura or Kawagoe?

Thanks amazinga. I think I might go with my initial thoughts and go to Kawagoe

as I would like to see how Japan used to look in the Samurai period. Having looked at your link Kawagoe does look more historical and I don't really want to be templed out (and my husband even less).

Melbourne Susie

Tokyo, Japan
posts: 14,633
reviews: 90
9. Re: Kamakura or Kawagoe?

For your information; most of the houses are of wealthy merchants, not of the samurais. I have been to both Kawagoe and Kamakura couple of times, and although the town of Kawagoe shys away to better preserved post towns out of Tokyo area, it is worth seeing, coupled with Kita-in Temple, which was protected by the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Kamakura isn't just a bronze Buddha but you do need to look at temples like Hasedera and I am sure that you won't be disappointed. Kamakura is the home of origin of the samurai class in the 12th century and although most buildings are "renovated" from the 16-17th century under the Toyotomi rule and the Tokugawa Shogunate, they are closely associated with samurai culture. Its importance in Japanese history is unmatched, but perhaps tourists aren't that interested in historical contexts.

The Komachi Street in Kamakura is a bit too touristy indeed, which is distracting and a bit sad. And it's true that there is no concentration of older townhouses in one place like Kawagoe (although there are some houses if you look for them).

Most people choose Nikko and/or Kamakura as day trip destination(s) out from Tokyo and there are reasons for their choice. Kawagoe is still worth visiting if you know what you'd be seeing: some streets lined with old merchant townhouses and a nice historic temple in a Tokyo suburban bed-town. You can't really expect to see a well-preserved post town similar to that of Narai, Tsumago, Magome in suburban Tokyo. Even an unimportant town like Kawagoe was dropped bombs during WW2.

Edited: 4:07 am, October 20, 2012
Tokyo, Japan
posts: 14,633
reviews: 90
10. Re: Kamakura or Kawagoe?

In another words, if you are also going to Kyoto apart from the 3days in Tokyo and expecte to be templed out, and if you do not intend to go to post towns mentioned above, I can happily recommend Kawagoe. Recommend going by Seibu ltd express from Seibu shinjuku, or by Tobu from Ikebukuro.

Edited: 4:12 am, October 20, 2012