Day Trip to Kawagoe

Date: Trip taken in January 2023

Background: Kawagoe is about 30 minutes train ride from Tokyo. It is an Edo-period castle town, known for its old clay warehouses and merchant homes. 

Logistics: You can use the regular Suicca card to get to Kawagoe.

First, we went to the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. The shrine has been historically worshiped for “matrimonial happiness”, “happiness in the family” and the “deity of matchmaking”.  

Shrines have omikuji, which are random fortunes written on a piece of paper. You would make a small offering to receive the fortune. What is unique at this shrine is that they have “Tai-Mikuji” (Red snapper fortunes).  The ’tai’ in the fortune and the ’tai’ for red snapper are a Japanese pun on the word for good luck. The omikuji is inside the fish that you fish out. I got the ‘ichinen antai mikuji’ (one year of safety lottery) one.

I also tried the ‘hitogata nagashi’ ritual, where the purpose is to cleanse one’s sins. There is a small river of water where you could practice this.

The steps are as follows:

1. Blow three times on the washi paper called the ‘hitogata’ (human-shaped paper).
2. Rub the hitogata paper on yourself.
3. Release the hitogata paper into the river while chanting “harai tamae, kiyome tamae” (atone and purify).

small river with washi paper

We also went through the Tunnel of Ema (wooden prayer plates).

Tunnel of Ema

After the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, we went to the Starbucks. The exterior of the Starbucks blends right in with the Edo style buildings on the street. They even have a Japanese zen garden at the back of the shop.


We got some snacks along the way and got udon for lunch.

Shops started to close around 5 pm so be sure to come here earlier in the day.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *