Kawasaki: Traditional & Contemporary Culture in One Day
Kawasaki (川崎市 Kawasaki-shi) has long been regarded as a popular suburb for commuters working in either Tokyo (東京) to the north or Kanagawa’s Yokohama (横浜) to the south. Historically it’s always been an industrial centre with many factories for larger corporations still located on the southern side of the city. However, these days Kawasaki has been shedding this image and has become a destination in its own right, offering nature, culture, and historical discoveries. This makes it a great choice for a day trip from Tokyo.
Got a day to spare? Here are three spots to check out when you’re on a cultural exploration to this rich suburb, with the suburb’s major train hub Kawasaki Station (川崎駅 Kawasaki-eki) located less than 30 minutes away from the heart of Tokyo.
Kawasaki Daishi. (Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)
Our first stop of the day is at Kawasaki Daishi (川崎大師), which you can conveniently reach both from Yokohama and Tokyo. Take the Keikyu Main Line (京急本線 Keikyū-honsen) from Yokohama or Tokyo’s Shinagawa and change at Keikyu-Kawasaki Station (京急川崎駅 Keikyū Kawasaki-eki). From there, take a 5-minute train ride bound for Kojimashinden and alight 3 stops later at Kawasaki-Daishi Station (川崎大師駅 Kawasaki-daishi-eki). The temple is about a 5-minute walk from the station.
Kawasaki Daishi Heiken-ji Temple (川崎大師平間寺) is a Shingon Buddhist temple originally founded in 1128 and is impressive in its grandeur and scale. It’s a popular destination for local Japanese to visit for their first temple trip of the New Year (初詣 hatsumōde), but otherwise hosts a plethora of events throughout the year—notably a wind-chime festival in July, Noh theatre in May, and a traditional tea ceremony in April.
(Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)
If timed right, you can witness a purification fire ceremony known as Goma (護摩祈祷Gomakitō) performed to help ward off bad luck and pray for greater prosperity and longevity. Prayer times are 6:30am (or 6am from 21st April–Sept), 9am, 10:30am, and 11:30am—with some afternoon slots too.
If you’re in this area, don’t forget to try the local Daishi-maki (大師巻)! This is a famous rice cracker (煎餅 senbei) originally named after Kawasaki Daishi and is said to resemble the image of Kōbō Daishi himself which has made it very popular. The original shop is a bit of a walk, but a branch exists at Atre Kawasaki (アトレ川崎). This is a short walk back from Keikyu-Kawasaki Station, where we are returning to next.
Following our temple visit, our next destination is a popular culture highlight further north in Kawasaki. Take a local train from JR Kawasaki Station bound for Tachikawa (立川) on the Nambu Line (南武線 Nanbu-sen) and ride for about 26 minutes before alighting at Shukugawara Station (宿河原駅 Shukugawara-eki).
Kawasaki Daishi Heiken-ji Temple (川崎大師平間寺)
Address: 4-48 Daishimachi, Kawasaki Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 210-8521
Nearest station: Kawasaki-Daishi Station (川崎大師駅)
Access: 5-minute walk from the station
Opening hours: 5:30am–6pm
Tel: +81 44-266-3420
From here it’s a 13-minute walk south to the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum (藤子・Ｆ・不二雄ミュージアム), but note a shuttle bus also runs from Noborito Station (next stop) if preferred.
Fujiko F. Fujio Museum
Meet Doraemon at Fujiko F. Fujio Museum. (Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)
Fujiko F. Fujio Museum is dedicated to the creator of Japan’s one and only Doraemon (ドラえもん), who can best be described as a robotic cat from the future sent back in time to help a young boy called Nobita (のび太).
Fujiko・F・Fujio was the pen name for Hiroshi Fujimoto (弘 藤本), one of Doraemon’s creators and who has long lived and worked in Kawasaki’s Tama Ward (多摩区 Tama-ku) area. Since Doraemon’s inception in 1969, he has become one of Japan’s most loved characters, spawning many mangas, anime series, and an entire entertainment franchise. The museum celebrates the life of this character, its creator, and his other playful creations. Explore the exhibitions, manga library, theatre or gift shop, and take a well-earned break in the museum cafe too.
Fujiko F. Fujio Museum (藤子・Ｆ・不二雄ミュージアム)
Address: 2-8-1 Nagao, Tama-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 214-0023
Nearest station: Shukugawara Station (宿河原駅)
Access: 15-minute walk from the station
Opening hours: 10am–6pm (Entrance timing: 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm)
Admission fee: ¥1,000 (Adult), ¥700 (High School and Junior High School Students), ¥500 (4 years or older)
Tel: +81 44-266-3420
*Advance reservation is required—please use the Loppi system found at any Lawson convenience store.
Once you leave the museum, it’s time for a change of pace by seeking out one of Kawasaki’s rural, historical charms at the Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum (日本民家園). Luckily, it’s just a 15-minute walk west along Fuchu-kaido Avenue to reach it.
Japan Open Air Folk House Museum
Traditional houses in Kawasaki. (Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)
Explore 25 preserved buildings from Japan’s Edo Period at this outdoor museum in northern Kawasaki, located inside Ikuta Ryokuchi Park (生田緑地).
The houses, arranged across five areas to match their style and geographic origin (being relocated), include a range of architectural examples like gasshozukuri-style (合掌造り) farmhouses from the Shirakawa-go area. Many of the houses are also designated Important Cultural Assets.
Watch demonstrations involving indigo dyeing or straw/bamboo craft making and weaving (mainly Sundays), or get hands-on yourself with one of the interactive indigo dyeing sessions at the West Gate that will allow you to create your own memento from your visit.
To round out your visit, enjoy a late lunch—if not already done so at Fujiko F. Fujio Museum—at the soba restaurant inside The Yamashita House, a Gasshozukuri farmhouse from Gifu.
Once you’re done for the day, it’s a short walk up to Mukogaoka-Yuen Station, from where you can take a train to Yokohama (40-minute ride including one transfer) or Tokyo (25-minute ride including one transfer for Shibuya).
Japan Open Air Folk House Museum (日本民家園)
Address: 7-1-1 Masugata, Tama-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa 214-0032
Nearest station: Mukōgaoka-Yūen Station (向ヶ丘遊園駅)
Access: 13-minute walk from the station
Opening hours: 9:30am–5pm (March to October, last admission 4:30pm), 9:30am–4:30pm (November to February, last admission 4pm). Closed on Mondays, day after Japanese national holidays and 29 December to 3 January.
Admission fee: ¥500 (Adults), ¥300 (Senior High School, College students, and 65 years old and over)
Tel: +81 44-922-2181
Due to its proximity to Tokyo, Kawasaki is often mistaken to be part of this large metropolis instead of a subdued Kanagawa. But because of this too, getting to Kawasaki is convenient and quick, making it a great daytrip for tourists in Tokyo. Embrace Kawasaki’s rich cultural heritage in your next visit to the Kanto Region.
This article is adapted from Kanagawa Prefectural Government.
Header image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government