20. Shopping and Dining in LaZona
Right attached to the JR Kawasaki station central exit is a large shops and restaurants complex known as LaZona. This mall is all you may wish for if you are interested in a full day of consuming. The mall develops around an open square with some sitting space and a small stage for events. It is built with an eye on outdoor space, so walking decks, a tiny grass lot, seating spaces are available all around. In addition to several shops that can satisfy every whim, from clothing to DIY, LaZona offers a nice array of restaurants. Restaurant stands and a supermarket are also available at the basement. There is also a cinema and a gym. It's a place you can easily spend the day in.
19. Azalea Underground Mall and Passage
Opposite direction to LaZona is the main exit for Kawasaki station. Right by the station entrance is another series of stairs that take you to the Azalea underground shopping mall and restaurant arcade. The area is also used by many as underground passage, as it connects the station to the opposite side and has direct entrances to buildings such as More's, Dice, the Keikyu Kawasaki station entrance and the various exits to the bus stops that are above ground, in front of the station main entrance. There are several shops and restaurants to browse, a food court, supermarkets and others. It's a great choice in case it's too cold outside.
Entrance to the passage
18. Ride the World's Shortest Escalator
The More's Building by Kawasaki station holds a Guinness World Record, as it has the shortest escalator (84 centimeters high) made of basically 5 steps! It can be found through the underground passage.
17. Muza Symphony Hall
This is the ideal place for the concerts lovers. The concert hall in this building, located beside LaZona shopping mall, is very large and refined, with nice acoustics. Concerts are held regularly, so make sure you check the calendar on the hall's website. There are also several other facilities, a cafe, playrooms for children and a shop.
Entrance of the symphony hall building
16. Game Arcade Anata No Warehouse.
In Japan game arcades are everywhere. But the Anata no warehouse, a few minutes walk from JR Kawasaki station, is different as it is a themed game arcade. You will find all the typical arcade games like Nintendo's Taiko no Tatsujin drums, car racing, shooting games, ufo catchers and so on, but all is set up to look like the famous Hong Kong district of Kowloon. Entering and exiting the building, which looks very run-down, is also an experience on its own. In addition to video games, there is an entire floor dedicated to physical games like darts, ping pong, and billiards.
A corner of the themed game arcade
15. La Cittadella Kawasaki
This is another shopping mall a short walk from Kawasaki station, but it is on a smaller scale and a little poshier than LaZona. In addition, it is made to look like an Italian town, including the town square in the center. Here, a few times a day, a water fountain gives a music and light show to the shoppers. There is also a clubbing space and a cinema, several (of course) Italian and Spanish restaurants, and an outdoor futsal space.
Italian looking buildings around a main square in La Cittadella
14. Toshiba Science Museum
The entrance to this nice museum is attached to LaZona shopping mall, making it a nice diversion to the shopping frenzy. The museum is inside the Toshiba office building, not surprisingly, and is free-admission. It is very suited for families, as all the exhibits are interactive (they even have a spaceship video game) and aim at raising people's awareness in science and technology. All the fields Toshiba is involved in are represented, including how to get alternative sources of energy, mechanics (the model of the fastest elevator developed by Toshiba for the Taiwan Tower Taipei 101 is here), digital information, and so on. A second room in the museum runs through the history of Toshiba and showcases all the first-time technology items that were introduced in Japan: TVs, DVD players, microwaves, computers, etc. Visiting the museum is very inspiring and educational for everybody.
One of the sections of the museum on renewable energy
13. Kawasaki Daishi
This Buddhist temple is a beautiful, quiet spot not too far from Kawasaki Centre. Its grounds enclose a very large main gate and the main shrine where worshippers pray for preventing all troubles and accidents. An impressive, colorful 5-story pagoda stands in the center of the temple area. Attached to the temple there is a nice Chinese style garden, called Daishi Park. There are many events held at this temple, perhaps the most interesting one for non-Buddhists is the Wind Chime Festival in July.
The street that leads to the temple from the closest station, called Nakamise Street, is filled with shops and restaurants, giving a touristy feel to the area. To get here, take a keikyu-like train from Keikyu Kawasaki station to Kawaski Daishi station. From there, it is a pleasurable 10 minute walk.
The main shrine
12. Attend the Kanamara Spring Festival
One temple near Kawasaki Daishi, the Kanayama Shrine is known for the (in)famous festival that happens in April, called Kanamara Matsuri. The festival is meant to celebrate fertility, as it is based on a story of a guy who defeated a demon inhabiting a woman's womb using an iron phallus. Nowadays the festival is more a tourist attraction than a real felt celebration, although it is used as an event to raise money for HIV research.
11. Ikuta Ryokuchi Park
This is arguably the largest park in Kawasaki municipality. I have to say, it is one of the nicest, as it offers a lot of different entertainment and sightseeing within its grounds. One of its best features, in my opinion, is the observation tower, where one can see as far as the Tokyo Sky Tree and the mountain ranges of central Japan (snow capped in winter). Totally worth it. There are also a rose garden, a few temples, and four totally worthy museums (listed below) scattered around the park. Its hilly grounds are veined with trails and walking paths, and allow people to explore the forest park in full, enjoying the surrounding nature. The park can be reached on foot from either Noborito station on the JR Nambu line or Mukogaoka-yuen station on the Odakyu line.
The observation platform in the park
10. Fujiko Fujio Museum
This museum is at the far end of the park, along the main street off Mukogaoka-yuen station. It is better known as the Doraemon Museum, as it celebrates the creator of the famous animation featuring the blue cat from outer space. Along the way, clear references to the artist's creations can be spotted.
Statue of Doraemon along the way to the museum
9. Nihon Minkaen
This is an open-air museum, and features old style houses from all over Japan. It covers a large portion of the park, and consists of something like 25 or more real houses (basically disassembled, transported, and reassembled in there) once dwellings of farmers, craftsmen, merchants, and so on. It is very pleasant during the spring or autumn months, but can be visited year-round. Activities such as indigo dyeing can also be experienced, inside the museum.
A thatched roof house in Minka-en
8. Taro Okamoto Museum
The museum celebrates the genius of Taro Okamoto, the very famous and revered Kawasaki-born, Tokyo-based artist. His works are influenced by the surrealism currents and by Picasso, resulting in very unique art pieces. If you have seen the huge mural in the Keio Shibuya station, called Myth of Tomorrow, you know what I am talking about. Another of his city art works is the Tower of Children in Aoyama, but his most famous one is The Tower of Sun in Osaka.
View of the museum entrance from high up
Myth of Tomorrow in Shibuya Station in Tokyo. yoppy on Flickr
7. Municipal Science Museum
It's a very educative place to take kids to, and it is conveniently located close to the east entrance of Ikuta Park. The museum is divided into experience areas: nature, scientific and astronomical (with a planetarium!). There are also night-time sky viewing sessions.
6. Barbecue on the Kawasaki side of Tama River
Definitely a spring/summer activity, barbecuing can be fun, especially with a group of friends. However, setting up barbecues is only allowed on the Kanagawa side of the Tama River, and that means Kawasaki as well. Just walk down to the south banks, either from Kawasaki or Noborito, or any other of the stations closest to the river, set up your charcoals on fire and enjoy the day. Just remember to bring shade as well, as it can get very unpleasant during the hottest months.
People enjoying a BBQ day
5. Play Golf
The lovers of this sport will find a nice 34 holes field just by the Tama River called Kawasaki Riverside Golf Course. The place is not directly accessible by train, but it can be reached by bus from Kawasaki station, nearest stop is Miyuko Park, or by car driving along the Route 1 (Keihin-daini motorway). Reservations for tee times can be made online.
4. Higashi-takane Forest Park
Take the JR Nambu Line from Kawasaki station and get off at Kuji, then walk 15 minutes to this beautiful treasure. Higashi-takane is, as the name suggests, a park and also a forest. The variety of plants and animals that inhabit the forest is large, making this green lung an oasis in the middle of the city. There are several walking trails, many of them educational for children as there are signs placed along the paths that explain what animals are being spotted and what plants. A large flat and open grass field is ideal for picnics, and a small pond nearby makes the picture-perfect spot every season of the year.
The pond with gazebo in the park
3. Keihin Fushimi Inari Temple
Inari temples are those you see with two foxes protecting the main gate. The deity is worshipped for a good rice harvest. While the main Inari Shrine, known all over Japan, is the Fushimi Inari Taisha near Kyoto, there is another one in Kawasaki, a short walk from Shinmaruko station on the Toyoko Line (just two stations from the Bremen Street one), or from Musashi-kosugi station on the JR Nambu Line. This is a small shrine, tucked between buildings, but its fox statues are very unique: they are literally everywhere, painted in bright colors from white to green, and posed in impossible positions.
Colorful and scary looking foxes at Inari temple
2. Bremen Street
If you have never heard the story of the Four Bremen Musicians you should look it up. One shopping street in Japan, precisely outside of Motosumiyoshi station on the Tokyu Toyoko line, is dedicated to these fellas. Other than featuring the protagonists of the tale (the four animals Cat, Chicken, Donkey, and Dog), and the references to the German town of Bremen, this street is your average Japanese shopping street. But it is fun to walk, if not just to admire the statues of the animals.
The sign with the four Bremen musicians over the street entrance
1. Higashiogijima Park
Being directly by the sea allows visitors to receive some very appealing scenery in Kawasaki. Higashiogijima Park is for ocean lovers and features a wide grass field, a small beach, and a walking pier with a spectacular view of the sea, all across from an industrial area of the city overlooking factories and an airport. Travelers visiting the park can see boats cruising and planes landing! You may think this wall of industry across from the park makes it less appealing, but Higashiogijima Park is a great destination for anyone to stretch out and enjoy the outdoors for a day.