In Japan’s Edo period, Kawagoe was a prosperous castle town and due to it escaping damage during World War II, the city still has many of its old streets still in tact. Ichibangai Street is lined with traditional buildings on both sides, making it full of character — the ideal place to learn about the history of the area while enjoying a spot of shopping.
This small street is around 400 meters long and is situated less than a kilometer north of Hon-Kawagoe Station. The style of the buildings are that of traditional Japanese warehouses (kura), that were specifically designed to be fireproof after a large fire ripped through the area in 1893. These days, many of the buildings are either shops or restaurants catering for a burgeoning tourist crowd.
Ichibangai Street is best explored on foot as part of a Kawagoe walking tour that also takes in the old city’s other attractions, such as Dream Street, Spatiotemporal Bell, Snack Street, and Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine.
The easiest way to reach Kawagoe from Tokyo is by train. The fastest route is via the Tobu Tojo line (Ikebukuro to Kawagoe Station), which takes 30 minutes on the express train. The nearest train station to the old town area in Kawagoe is Hon-Kawagoe Station, which is accessible on the Seibu Line and is a popular meeting point for walking tours.
Did You Know? There’s a museum on the street where you can learn more about the fireproof warehouse buildings. It features design plans, cross sections of walls, roof tiles, and fire-resistant doors.