The city of Kawagoe is barely half an hour from central Tokyo by express train, but it feels like you have traveled back in time when you arrive there. While Tokyo experienced fires and bombings that destroyed many of its ancient buildings, Kawagoe was spared from bombing during WW2 and before that, made some decisions that helped keep its ancient buildings intact. Many of the buildings in Kawagoe are from the 1700’s and 1800’s and remain because they are basically fireproof: built with thick clay walls rather than wood. The old wooden bell tower burned down in the last major fire and was rebuilt in 1894.

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