Kawagoe sits about 35 minutes by train from Tokyo and is a major transit hub for getting around Saitama province. There are just over 350,000 people living in Kawagoe and even though it is considered a suburb of Tokyo it has a city-like feel. There are a number of universities with campuses in town which have attracted foreigners, like me, with academics and job offers. Year round, Japanese and international tourists come to Kawagoe to enjoy the Kurazukuri no machinami (Traditional Warehouse Street). These warehouses have been preserved from the Edo period and give visitors an authentic look into Japan’s architectural past. For this reason, Kawagoe is also known as Coedo, Little Edo. Edo is the old name for Tokyo.
Every weekend the streets of Kawagoe are filled with visitors, many of whom have made the short day trip out from Tokyo, but the biggest event of the year is the Kawagoe Hikawa Festival held the third weekend in October. An estimated one million people come into town between Saturday and Sunday to enjoy the intricately decorated floats and delicious street food.
The main draw of the festival is the floats. Each neighborhood decorates a float and parades around the city performing music and participating in “battles” with other floats. The floats are housed in special two-story garages during the year and the upkeep can be very expensive but well worth it because they are beautiful.
If you want to learn more about the festival you can check out their website: http://www.kawagoematsuri.jp/English/ And to anyone planning to visit Kawagoe in autumn, I highly recommend coming during the third weekend in October. I made a highlight video of the event that you can watch below. Enjoy the music, floats, and masses of people that came out to the festival!