Japan Saitama

Experiencing fall foliage at the Kawagoe Castle Ruins

December 8, 2017

There is a Hard-Off outlet about three kilometers from my sister’s home and I went out an hour before lunch to buy a monopod. For those unaware, Hard-Off is one of the popular chain stores in Japan selling second hand stuff. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I was not able to reach the shop as I ended up taking photos of the fall foliage at the Kawagoe Castle Ruins along the way.

It turned out the shop was actually just a few more meters from the old warehouse district of Little Edo where I had been to last Sunday. As soon as we arranged our stuff when my father and I arrived at my sister’s home, I went to revisit my favorite spot in the area – Little Edo. Had known about the Hard-Off earlier, I would not have gone the same way again today. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have been able to find out about the Kawagoe Castle Ruins and so many other things as well.

Things happen for a reason, I suppose.

If you have been following my social media rants of late, I have been wanting to catch the Momijigari (fall peeping, or the fall counterpart of spring’s cherry blossom festival). I have been writing about fall foliage here and there only to give up later on since the earliest tickets we have managed to book were already for December. I thought no more fall foliage for me but I was wrong.

But before that, these are some of the fall foliage photos I have managed to take. I have my reasons to believe that these trees have actually waited for my arrival before they turn themselves completely bald for winter. Some of the temperate deciduous trees were still changing colors when I revisited the place last Sunday. There were in fact still the same when I revisited the area this morning.

The first one below was near the Candy Alley. There was a small water canal running under that bench where the girl was sitting on the left and the souvenir shop this man was running. I wasn’t aiming for the colorful trees in the background and only noticed them as I was reviewing my photos.

Fall foliage in Kawagoe

Also read: Kawagoe: A leisurely walk in Edo and Meiji Eras

The next photo was from the actual Candy Alley and the next two were from the creek running along Kawagoe. It’s one of my landmarks when going to and from my sister’s home.

Fall foliage in Kawagoe

Fall foliage in Kawagoe

Fall foliage in Kawagoe

Is it me or is WordPress super decompressing my photos when I upload them? But have you noticed the duck swimming in the water? Here’s another photo if you haven’t.

Duck at the Kawagoe creek

It’s often accompanied by cranes, too. And there are huge colorful carps inhabiting the creek.

Along with maple trees and other ornamental trees, orange trees (or orange-looking fruit-bearing trees) are planted in front yards of several houses here in Kawagoe. They made me wonder how cheap the prices of residential spaces are here in Kawagoe as compared to other areas such as in Tokyo. In Tokyo, rarely you could find a house with even a small space for gardening but here in Kawagoe, there are yards bigger than the houses themselves.

Orange trees on front yards in Kawagoe

When I was in Tagaytay, my monopod or selfie stick got broken beyond repair. It was really a cheap one, it got broken as soon as I took it out of its packaging and only fixed it with a strong adhesive. So around 11:00 AM today, I went out to buy a new one. Japan is a very photogenic country, almost everything is in for an impromptu photoshoot – the rocks, the street signs, the shops. Having a selfie stick at hand, you can have yourself included in those ever-ready photography props.

So I went out solely for that purpose, it was around 11:00 AM.

However, on my way, I noticed the Kawagoe Castle on Google Maps. Told myself I’ll take a quick look at the place and if I’d see it tour worthy, I’ll go back some other days. I didn’t find it too special, I thought the rest of the old warehouse has enough of the old buildings from the Edo Period and the Kawagoe Castle is just one of them.

Here’s the Honmaru Goten, the innermost defense building, and the only remaining structures of the original Kawagoe Castle.

Kawagoe Castle (Honmaru Goten)

The walls and the roof couldn’t help but transport you back in the old days of Samurai and Ninja warriors, aren’t they?

The Kawagoe Castle was built in 1457. During the takeover of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the castle housed several lords of Tokugawa Shogunate to protect the north capital. Kawagoe played an important role in the trading of goods during the Edo Period.

Today, the Kawagoe Castle is one of the 100 best castles of Japan and seven best castles of the Kanto Region.

Here’s a Google Map of the Kawagoe Castle Ruins relative to the Kawagoe Candy Alley (Kashiya Yokocho) to give you an idea. Hard-Off lies a few hundred meters more after the castle.

Below is a photo I took of the Kuruwamachi intersection, if you turn right further ahead, you’ll arrive at the Kawagoe Castle Ruins. Seeing the bald trees ahead made me realize that if I had arrived in Japan a little earlier, I would have seen how the whole place can be bursting with colors with all the temperate decidous tress change the color of their leaves from gree to golden yellow and red. It would have been a beautiful fall foliage scene.

Kuruwamachi Intersection near the Kawagoe Castle Ruins

Futher exploring the inner areas of the Kawagoe Castle Ruins made me realize I maybe I wasn’t too late after all.

Inside the Kawagoe Castle Ruins

After checking some of the small temples in the area and when I was about to take my exit to the nearest Hard-Off store, I noticed this line of trees and the golden leaves it shedded on the ground.

Fall foliage at Kawagoe Castle Ruins

Fall foliage at Kawagoe Castle Ruins

I thought the car ahead was an eye sore in the photo so I went to the other end. However, some of the leaves are still yellow green and realized the other side is still better.

I stayed in the area for a few more hours until I realized it was already past 1:00 PM. At that time, my stomach was already rumbling and I really needed to go back.

On my return, I noticed this small shrine on one corner of the road and realized my two Stormtroopers would look great in it. Good thing I haven’t brought them with me as I realize later that shrines, no matter how small, are sacred spaces and shouldn’t be used for casual things like taking photos of Stormtroopers.

Small shrine on the road in Kawagoe

Close-up of a small shrine on the road in Kawagoe

December 8, 2017 | Kawage Castle Ruins, 2 Chome, Kuruwamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, 350-0053 Japan

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