It’s summer! (However, as I write this, I’m huddled up in my dark kitchen because it’s super cloudy outside..) Summer in Japan means fireworks, festivals, and yukatas. I absolutely love wearing yukatas (summer kimonos), and this year I decided to get a new one.
My friends from America actually happened to be visiting, so we decided to buy yukatas for them so that we could all wear them and find an omatsuri. We also took a trip to Koedo Kawagoe, a small town in Saitama retaining the culture and atmosphere of the Edo era in Japan. There are plenty of old storehouse merchant houses and some great authentic Japanese cuisine restaurants.
The main street can get a little crowded, but it definitely wasn’t unbearable or filled with just tourists. There are plenty of little side streets to explore as well.
After walking around for a bit, we found an udon restaurant to go to for lunch. It was actually already about 2-3pm, so some of the restaurants were closed!
We got really full after a great lunch, but as they say, betsu bara (separate stomach) for dessert! Some of my friends decided to sip on some roasted green tea, while I opted for some cold ice cream.
One popular street in Koedo Kawagoe is Kashiya Yokocho, or “penny candy alley.” It’s basically a small road with lots of shops selling traditional, nostalgic candy from the past. Unfortunately, again, we were a little late and most of the shops were closed for the day.
When it was evening, I started searching for a festival to go to. I wanted to go to one with food stalls, so we decided to hop on a train to Yonohonmachi (与野本町) to go to the Yono Summer Festival!
Athough there were definitely lots of people, rather than a famous festival where it’s so crowded that everyone is pushing through the crowd, it felt more as if just the neighborhood kids and families came to enjoy a nearby festival. There were a lot of food stalls as I had hoped, including yakisoba, takoyaki, shaved ice, baby castella, okonomiyaki, and more.
The stalls all closed around 9, so we all started to head home around then (but of course, not without taking some yukata photos first!)
Wearing a yukata really makes you feel like it’s summer. I’ve still got a week of finals left, but I’m looking forward to wearing it a few more times this year!