Sunday, March 23, 2014

Travel to Japan: Saitama - Kawagoe

Saitama is a prefecture in Japan, located in Kanto region, about 40 mins journey by train from Shinjuku area in Tokyo. I visited Saitama area twice when I was in Japan. The first time was to catch CNBLUE concert in Saitama Super Arena and the second one was to visit 'sweet potato city' Kawagoe.


I thought I already used up all my luck last year when I had a chance to travel around for watching several shows of Blue Moon World Tour. But even when the year almost came to an end, the universe was still so kind for letting me catch another unexpected show. It felt like magic when I read the news for the first time. I only had 5 days in Tokyo and the concert date was so fit with my schedule. Through some help from several friendly people, I managed to get the concert ticket from a very nice Japanese lady, R :)

CNBLUE held their Winter Arena Tour last year in 5 cities (Saitama, Osaka, Hiroshima, Nagoya and Fukuoka), in total of 9 shows. Saitama was their first stop. This tour called 'One More Time' and it's also the title track from their newest Japan album 'What Turns You On?' that had been released on late August.

CNBLUE's concert in Japan was added to my bucket list since I watched their '392' Yokohama concert  through YouTube and I have been blown away by their performance throughout the Blue Moon World Tour. I was getting more curious since many fans stated that their shows in Japan were difference. That's true, even the atmosphere was not the same. Unlike any other concerts, there's no camera clicking or blocking my sight during the show. Maybe there were some but I couldn't even notice.

The band performed both their Korean and Japanese songs for almost 2,5 hours. 17 songs for the first part of the show plus 5 songs for the encore. They also added an impromptu song in the middle of the show and jokingly sang the derp version of 'I'm Sorry'. Oh these guys can turn into comedians someday~

My favorite part was when they had their solo session in the middle of 'Coffee Shop'! Another thing that I love from this show was the Japanese audience precisely knew the right time to scream, to clap, to sing along, and to keep silence. There's a moment during 'eclipse' when the only sound I heard inside this big big big venue was the members played their instrument while Jonghyun sang the mellow song. Didn't I shiver? Yes, I did.

Saturday, November 2, 2014. CNBLUE Arena Tour 2013 'One More Time' at Saitama - 2nd day.
When the show's over I had a little chit-chat with 2 Japanese women beside me who old enough to be my mother! They also traveled from another city/region just to catch this concert. That's what I love about music, it has no boundaries :) They also gave me a little box of candy as a welcome gift to their country. Once again I'll say this: Japanese people are very kind to foreigners!

Mini sweet package I got from R. Filled with sweet potato and Christmas theme snacks :)

How to get there
Saitama Super Arena
Take JR Saikyo Line to Akabane Station from Shinjuku Station, transfer to JR Utsonomiya Line and get off at Saitama Shintoshin Station (+/- 35 mins).
Turn left on the exit, the venue is just about 2 mins walk from the station.


The main reason to visit this city was because I'm a fan of YongSeo couple. The couple visited this city in the middle of their busy busy schedule in Japan around September 2010. The WGM production team chose Kawagoe trip for this couple because this city is famous for its sweet potato. YongSeo couple is also known as Goguma (sweet potato in Korean) couple.

Kawagoe is a city in Saitama prefecture. Not many foreigners paid their attention to this small city, but I hope they will someday in near future. There's an area called The Kurazukuri Street and it's probably the main attraction of this city. It's not a very long street with some alleys filled with museums, warehouses, snack stores, several temples, and Toki no Kane (Time Bell Tower). There's a tourist information office inside Kawagoe Station with English speaking staff. They're so helpful and gave me some English brochure along with Kawagoe Tourist Map. He said other than The Kurazukuri Street, I should visit Kashiya Yokocho (Penny Candy Lane) and Honmaru Goten of Kawagoe Castle. Since I just had a short time, 3 hours more or less, I couldn't visit all those places that day.

The Kurazukuri Street. Look at that clear blue sky!

Toki no Kane (Time Bell Tower)

After the first YS trail that I followed when I was in Korea, now I present to you: YongSeo trail part 2! ^^

Sweet Potato Snack Store 
It's located in the main street of Kurazukuri area. The couple visited this store and bought some snack made from sweet potato. There are some sample snacks available inside the store, so you can try some before decide which one to buy. Sweet potato snacks in Kawagoe are taste so goooood, I want to eat them all >,<
There's also a YongSeo set back then, it contains of imo-manjyu & kiri-imo. Both are snacks that the couple bought in the store, but the imo-manjyu was no longer available now.
It's hard for me to find this place at first since I relied on the old facade and wooden board in front of the store from WGM show. I already passed this store several times until I accidentally saw YongSeo pictures on its display. 

Kiri-imo. Imo means sweet potato in Japanese.

Sweet potato snack covered with sugar. The red one is my fav!

Sweet Potato Ice Cream Parlor
This ice cream parlor is located in an alley across the snack store. It's so near with the Time Bell Tower. When I saw the couple ate this ice cream on the show, I couldn't imagine what it's taste like because it's an uncommon flavor. After I tried it, despite of the cold weather, I still wanted to eat another cone of this purple good lookin' ice cream. Heavenly sweet!

3) Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
The couple bought a wooden plate, wrote their wish and hang it inside the shrine. I did the exact same thing.

Each picture on the wooden plate means something, I just randomly chose this one since I can't speak Japanese ^^

On my way to Hikawa Shrine, I also passed by Sakuma Ryokan where the couple stayed for a night and the 711 store where the couple bought they 'holiday' drinks.

Kawagoe is a not that big to explore for 2 days. I think one day trip should be enough to see practically everything. Most places can be reached by foot. I got lost once or twice but not too long until I found my way again. The tourist map is my secret weapon. 

How to get there
From Shinjuku Station: take JR Yamanote Line to Ikebukuro Station, transfer to Tobu Tojo Line and get off at Kawagoe Station (+/- 45 mins).

From Kawagoe Station exit, find Mizuho Bank and Sumitomo Mistui Bank Corporation Building. There's a big gate to enter Crea Mall (shopping street). Keep walking straight until the end of Taisho-Roman Street, turn left, take several steps ahead, and you'll find The Kurazukuri area on your right. Just follow the yellow line on the map and you won't get lost.
For getting around in Kawagoe you can ride Koedo bus loop or take the local bus. I chose to walk from Kawagoe Station to Kurazukuri area and Kawagoe Shrine. Then I took the local bus to go back to Kawagoe Station at the end of my journey.


  1. Hye Anneyong, sorry disturbing u, I m diana from Malaysia, I just wanna know do u have any jboice friend in helping me to buy 3 concert tickets for the upcoming cnblue concert in japan? It's so difficult for us to buy huhu.

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