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Friday, Feb. 22, 2008

Get cultured in 'Little Edo'

Staff writer

Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture invites you to its unique cultural events on Feb. 28 in conjunction with the famous monthly antique market held at Naritasan Betsuin temple in the city.

samurai armor
Visitors wear samurai armor in celebration of Japan's Edo Period. COURTESY OF KOEDO KAWAGOE TOURIST ASSOCIATION

Kawagoe City is known as Ko-Edo (Little Edo) because the city has retained cultural properties and historic buildings, such as kura-zukuri merchant houses, which represent the culture of the Edo Period (1603-1867). The area around Ichiban-gai in Saiwai-cho, especially, has kept its traditional aspect and, in the streets overlooked by the Toki no Kane (an Edo Period clocktower rebuilt after a fire in 1893), shopkeepers trade and craftsmen work behind old-fashioned split curtains.

The cultural events will be held between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. in museums, temples and old houses in the town. In the 13 programs, participants can weave Tozan pin-striped cotton fabric (a traditional folk craft of Kawagoe), wear samurai armor (ancient Japanese battle dress), make woodblock prints, participate in a tea ceremony and create clay homeware using a pottery wheel.

From Naritasan Betsuin Temple, where a famous and popular antique market is held on the 28th of every month, the Enjoy Kawagoe in Kimono! walking tour starts at 11 a.m. (Participants are encouraged to wear kimono as they to stroll around the city, but they do not have to.)

Historically, Kawagoe was a castle town of the Kawagoe clan during the Edo Period, which the Tokugawa Shogunate relied on to secure and protect the northwest approaches to Edo (present-day Tokyo).

To participate in the cultural events, apply to Ko-Edo Kawagoe Tourist Association on (049) 227-8233. Fees vary depending on the program (around ¥500). There is further information at web.infolocal.jp/kawagoe/renaissance/.

Kawagoe Station is about 30 minutes from Ikebukuro on the Tobu Tojo Line (express), or one hour from Yurakucho on the Yurakucho Subway Line.
Hon-Kawagoe Station is about 45 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku Station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line (express).

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