Kawasaki, Japan Travel Guide: Discover the Best Vacation Experiences and Trip Ideas
Welcome to the vibrant city of Kawasaki, Japan – a destination that brings together the charm of traditional Japan with the dynamism of the contemporary world. Nestled between Tokyo and Yokohama, this thriving city offers unique cultural experiences, stunning natural beauty, and a bustling urban atmosphere. This travel guide will provide you with an overview of the city and recommend the best places to visit in Kawasaki.
A Brief Introduction:
Kawasaki, a city located in Kanagawa Prefecture, is an enticing blend of old and new. It is famous for its industrial sector but also boasts of rich cultural heritage and diverse entertainment options. It’s relatively less explored by tourists compared to its neighboring cities Tokyo and Yokohama, making it an ideal destination for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience.
Getting to Kawasaki:
Kawasaki is easily accessible by rail and road. The Haneda Airport in Tokyo is the nearest international airport. From there, it’s a short train ride or drive to Kawasaki. The city’s transportation network is highly efficient, making it easy to explore the city and its surrounding areas.
What to See and Do:
Kawasaki Daishi Temple:
Begin your tour with a visit to the Kawasaki Daishi Temple, one of the most important Buddhist temples in Japan. Known officially as Heiken-ji, this temple attracts millions of visitors every year who come to pray for protection against evil. Don’t miss the chance to try traditional Japanese street food in the Nakamise shopping street leading to the temple.
Fujiko F. Fujio Museum:
Anime and manga enthusiasts must not miss the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum, dedicated to the creator of the beloved ‘Doraemon’ series. Learn about the creator’s life, see original artworks, and enjoy short films in the museum theater.
Visit the Nihon Minka-en, or Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum, to step back in time. This outdoor museum features traditional Japanese houses from different periods, giving you a unique insight into Japan’s architectural evolution.
Kawasaki Marien and Higashi-Ogishima East Park:
For panoramic views of the city, head to Kawasaki Marien, a public facility located atop a hill. For a serene break, the Higashi-Ogishima East Park offers beautiful waterfront views.
Kawasaki Industrial Zone:
Experience the unique appeal of the Kawasaki Industrial Zone, which offers night tours. The mesmerizing spectacle of illuminated factories is often referred to as ‘Techno Kobo,’ or ‘Factory Night View.’
Where to Eat:
Kawasaki offers a rich and varied culinary scene. For sushi lovers, head to ‘Kizuna Sushi’, known for its delicious and affordable offerings. To experience traditional Izakaya (Japanese pub) dining, visit ‘Uroko,’ where you can enjoy local dishes and sake. If you fancy Ramen, ‘Mutekiya’ serves award-winning bowls of this comforting noodle dish.
Visit the Lazona Kawasaki Plaza, a large shopping mall with a vast array of stores, restaurants, and a cinema. For a traditional shopping experience, explore the local shops at the Kawasaki Daishi Nakamise Shopping Street.
Events and Festivals:
Kawasaki is renowned for its vibrant festivals. The most famous is the Kawasaki Halloween Parade, where thousands of participants showcase their elaborate costumes. Another notable event is the Kanamara Matsuri, or ‘Festival of the Steel Phallus,’ which is a unique celebration promoting fertility and marital happiness.
Local Customs and Etiquette:
Respect for local customs and traditions is important in Japan. Be mindful of etiquette, particularly in temples and shrines. When dining out, remember that tipping is not customary in Japan, as it’s considered that good service is standard and does not require extra reward. It’s also polite to say “itadakimasu” before starting a meal and “gochisosama deshita” after finishing it.
In public places, it is important to maintain quiet conversations and avoid causing disturbances, as Japanese culture values harmony and respect for others’ personal space. It’s also common to take off your shoes before entering homes, certain traditional restaurants, and sacred places like temples.
Public baths or ‘onsen’ are a common part of Japanese culture. If you decide to partake in this, remember that it is a communal activity, and it’s essential to cleanse your body thoroughly before entering the bath. Tattoos are often associated with the Yakuza (Japanese organized crime groups) and might not be allowed in some public baths or swimming pools.
When using chopsticks, avoid sticking them upright in your bowl as this is associated with funeral rites. Also, avoid passing food from chopstick to chopstick as this is another taboo linked to funerary traditions.
In Kawasaki, you can find accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels and traditional Japanese ‘ryokan’ inns, the city offers a wide range of places to stay.
For a luxury experience, the Kawasaki Nikko Hotel offers comfortable rooms with great city views. If you prefer a more traditional Japanese accommodation experience, you might want to consider staying at a ryokan, where you can sleep on tatami mats and enjoy a communal hot spring bath. An example in Kawasaki is the Kiyokawa Ryokan.
Day Trips from Kawasaki:
Due to its location, Kawasaki is perfect for day trips. You can easily visit Tokyo, Yokohama, or Kamakura and return to Kawasaki in the evening.
Tokyo: Japan’s bustling capital needs no introduction. Visit the historical Asakusa area, shop in fashionable Harajuku or admire the view from the Tokyo Skytree.
Yokohama: Explore Japan’s second-largest city, Yokohama. Visit the beautiful Sankeien Garden, explore the bustling Chinatown, or enjoy the sea views from Yamashita Park.
Kamakura: For a more laid-back experience, visit Kamakura. You can see the Great Buddha, visit numerous temples and shrines, or relax at the beach.
Kawasaki is generally a safe city to visit, with low crime rates similar to the rest of Japan. However, as with any city, it is advisable to take standard safety precautions. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded places, and avoid walking alone in poorly lit areas late at night.
Kawasaki, with its unique blend of modern attractions and traditional charm, offers a rewarding and unique travel experience. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a foodie, a lover of nature, or an urban explorer, Kawasaki has something for you.
From the tranquility of Nihon Minka-en to the bustling streets surrounding Kawasaki Daishi, from the charming food stalls to the glowing industrial zone, Kawasaki is a city that embraces contrasts beautifully. Come and discover this captivating city that is waiting to be explored. Enjoy your trip and make unforgettable memories in Kawasaki, Japan.