Located only a short train ride away from Tokyo-Haneda airport, the residential and commercial area of Kawasaki is a local favorite for anybody that lives along the JR Keihin-Tohoku and Tokaido lines or the Keikyu main line. Kawasaki is especially great at creating family-friendly experiences and has a variety of places where you can spend your weekends and holidays. Here are just a few.
Kawasaki History and Cultural Heritage
The history of Kawasaki City, which runs along the Tama River and far beyond Kawasaki Ward, goes back to the Nara Period when the area was the Musashi Province. Today, the city is home to one of the most important industrial sectors in the Kanto region. History buffs can learn more about the city’s history at the Nihon Minkaen Open Air Museum (//released.solo.diagram) if they don’t mind a short trip to the northern Tama Ward, taking the JR Nambu Line from Kawasaki Station.
Some remnants of the city’s heritage can still be seen today. Among them is Kawasaki Daishi, which many might already know as one of Kanagawa’s largest Buddhist temples, home to many festivals throughout the year but is particularly lively around hatsumode – the first visit of the New Year. On a nice, sunny day, it’s a great way to get in your steps but you can also take a quick train ride from Keikyu-Kawasaki Station to Kawasaki-Daishi on the Daishi Line.
More recently, foreign travelers have gotten acquainted with the Kanamara Matsuri – also known as the Kanamara Penis Festival – which takes place every spring at Kanamara Shrine. Kawasaki also holds the crown for one of the biggest Halloween parades in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, which welcomes more participants every year bringing their A-game in costume-making.
Family Fun in Kawasaki
By day, Kawasaki is known for its a family-friendly atmosphere, with dozens of events (well, this is before Covid-19 hit Japan) going on regularly. In addition to JR station staple Atré, connected to Kawasaki Station is Lazona (///priced.dark.solving), a large shopping mall with an outdoor central area where kids can be seen running around to exhaustion on the weekends. Here, you’ll find everything from your everyday stores, but also bigger brands like Lululemon, Apple and Zara. The Maruzen bookstore in the basement floor offers a good selection of English language books.
Outside the station are a couple of mom and pop stores. There is also an underground pathway between the station and the More’s department store. There, if you know where to look, you can find (and ride) the world’s shortest escalator.
Opening this month is also Japan’s first station-adjacent aquarium. Located on the 10th and 11th floors of the Le Front (///another.jogging.avid), the Kawasui Kawasaki Aquarium is a new aquarium that combines beautiful marine life and technology. Though not as massive as Osaka’s Kaiyukan or Skytree’s Sumida aquariums, this one comes with two cafés and a gift shop, which you can access without entering the aquarium itself, and two fun and informative floors for those wanting to learn more about the wildlife in Kanagawa and the world.
While not densely populated with trendy cafés like southern Yokohama, if there’s one thing Kawasaki does well, it’s comfort food. What more could a residential neighborhood ask for? Whether it’s in the Showa-era food court with all the izakaya staples you could ask for in the basement of RiverK (///foremost.poems.cards) or Tsuruya’s to-die-for yakiniku (///pancake.amused.forest), so good it was featured in Kodoku no Gurume, you’re promised a delicious and heart-warming meal here.
If you stray from the station, you’ll also find a couple of hidden gems like the Tokaido Beer Factory (///required.hood.rising), a local brewery and bar located a few minutes outside Keikyu-Kawasaki Station. At night, you can easily recognize thanks to its intricate facade. Here, you can taste a very of beers brewed right on the premises along with a handful of bar snacks. In their own words, “Tokaido beer contains Kawasaki.” With a seasonal rotation of flavors, no two visits are identical.
In addition to arcades, there are not one, not two, but three movie theaters around Kawasaki Station, giving plenty of flexibility when it comes to finding the perfect time slot to catch the latest movie releases. One of them, Cinecitta, is located in La Citadella (///spilled.riding.princes), a small street full of shops and restaurants that not only welcomes a lot of local events but also is a beautiful place to enjoy the warm weather with plenty of outdoor eating areas. In the evening, enjoy a fountain show and the occasional performance by small idol groups or bands, no ticket required.
One of the more obscure activities, especially enjoyed by photographers, is a night tour of the Kawasaki factory zone. The lit-up metal structures create an eerie atmosphere worthy of your favorite utopian sci-fi universe:
Feature image by picture cells on Shutterstock