Flanked between Tokyo and Yokohama, the coastal city of Kawasaki extends along the Tamagawa River.
As a major industrial city that is moderately young in its stature, Kawasaki makes up for what it lacks in sightseeing in other ways.
With its many museums and shrines, admirable scenic attractions, enjoyable recreational spaces, and jazzy shopping centers, a visit to this city would be undeniably memorable.
Although quite frequently overlooked due to its proximity to the greater Tokyo area, this city packs its own punch.
This article explores the city’s allure and its many attractions.
These are the best things to do in Kawasaki, Japan:
Discover the Architecture of Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple
Once you set foot inside the Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple, you will instantly feel the harmony and serenity of Buddhism sweeping over you.
The standing of this temple is paramount, considering it forms the headquarters of the Chisan sect of Shingon Buddhism.
With a magnificent five-story pagoda, the temple stands tall in all its glory and grandeur.
The original construction of the shrine was revamped following World War II and is renowned for its engineered aesthetics of the Heian Period architecture.
By tradition, this temple is believed to ward off evil spirits and is a must-visit for anyone visiting Kawasaki.
Delve Deep into Japanese History at the Kawasaki City Museum
If you are a culture vulture who wants to learn more about Japanese history, a visit to the Kawaski City Museum is highly recommended.
This cultural and historical complex can be best described as a pivot of avant-garde experiences that will excite, educate and enliven its visitors.
Housed in the museum are archaeological and ethnographical artifacts that go by the theme of The City and The People.
The museum complex also has fascinating collections of photographs, cartoons, and even graphics that bemoan contemporary artistic expressions while highlighting and presenting the legacy of Kawasaki.
Over the years, the museum has attracted varied collections that are unique and inimitable to its very core.
After you are done scavenging for the artifacts, you can always unwind at the museum's in-house theater and grab a quick snack at their small lounge that overlooks a garden.
Travel Back in Time to the Japan of Old at the Nihon Minkaen
If you want an insight into old Japanese architecture, there is no better place for you to visit than Nihon Minkaen.
Stationed at Ikuta Ryokuchi Park, Nihon Minkaen is colloquially known as the Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum.
It has several displays of the time-honored farmhouses (or "minka"), several of which the national government has recognized as Important Cultural Assets.
With varied construction styles, these traditional houses bear a remarkable indication of Japan’s strong ties to Shinto.
From its many farmhouses to merchant buildings and thatched roofs to steeply pitched roofs, the diverse regional styles are of particular interest.
In a nutshell, visiting Nikon Minkaen would present you with an incredible opportunity to navigate and have the feel of walking straight into a time machine.
Marvel at the Finesse of Japanese Arts at the Taro Okamoto Museum of Art
If you want to witness Japanese art at its finest, take a bow and visit the Taro Okamoto Museum of Art.
Immerse yourself in the exceptionally influential 20th-century artist and creator Taro Okamoto’s stunning artworks.
His primitivist and wondrous style is positively full of life, as one can see in the abstract paintings and sculptures exhibited in the museum.
Art aficionados should not miss out on the opportunity to see Okamoto's incredible works at this museum.
Catch the Performances of World-Class Artists at Muza Kawasaki Symphony Hall
Nothing exudes delicacy, elegance, and refinement quite as much as a strip to Muza Kawasaki Symphony Hall.
With the prodigious accent and harmony of a full symphony orchestra, you are sure to feel a sense of perfect consummation.
From within the extravagant and showy halls, you can catch the live performances of renowned violin artists.
The hall's vineyard-like seating all the more amplifies its Nagata Acoustics design.
While at Muza Kawasaki Symphony Hall, you are certainly going to reap the benefit of every penny that you put forth for the astounding all-around experience.
See the Animals at Yumemigasaki Zoological Park
If you are seeking a brief respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, head straight to Yumemigasaki Zoological Park, an underrated gem in Kawasaki.
Positioned on top of a hill, this zoological park is home to myriad creatures that rouse awe and amusement.
The strategic location also presents the visitors with a chance to enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views of the city.
For extra pointers, this zoo is culturally significant as it houses two shrines and a temple.
Shop till You Drop at Lazona Kawasaki Plaza
Intimately attached to the central exit of JR Kawasaki Station is Lazona Kawasaki Plaza, a place you can very well spend the whole day without getting bored.
The large complex has an array of shopping centers and restaurants—in short, everything you will need.
Offering everything from daily necessities to the latest fashion, these shops are bound to satisfy every whim.
For the movie buffs, Lazona Kawasaki Plaza also has a cinema—the perfect place to escape from the city's hustle and bustle, even just for a few hours.
The shopping center is also a major point of attraction from time to time, thanks to its small stage that is ever-buzzing with events.
Relive Your Childhood Memories at the Doraemon Museum
As it is one of Japan’s most celebrated and favored manga and anime characters, very few people might not know of Doraemon.
If you are visiting with your children or if you are someone who is a fan of the character, you will find yourself getting lost in the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum, also known as the Doraemon Museum.
This art museum in the suburbs requires advance reservations, so make sure to do that.
You will see here an exceptional collection of Fujio's works.
To facilitate better comprehension, feel free to take advantage of the free audio guides, which will effortlessly run you through his life, the nature and significance of his works, and much more.
Although, by and large, the museum appeals more to the children, if you are someone who grew up watching the show, you will definitely be reliving fond memories of your childhood.
There are theaters that display the original short film, a manga room, well-stocked gift shops, and several activities and playrooms.
You can always finish off your visit by snacking at the cafe that serves Doraemon-themed dishes.
Pay Your Respects at the Keihin Fushimi Inari Shrine
Best described as the miniature version of Kyoto’s Inari Shrine, this shrine is a must-visit if you have a liking for signs of traditional culture amid the streamlined industrial hub of Kawasaki.
Constructed in 1951, the shrine is situated in a peaceful residential region in Kamata.
Featuring a number of torii gates contained by the shrine’s ground, Keihin Fushimi Inari Shrine stands for the revival of the city after World War II.
While exploring the shrine and appreciating the remarkable architecture, you are guaranteed to feel the calm and quiet that you may be looking for.
Step into the Tracks of Kawasaki’s Own Little Eden, Ikuta Ryokuchi Park
There is very little that needs to be said about Ikuta Ryokuchi Park.
It is undoubtedly one of the city’s most exquisite and cherished recreational spaces.
With everything from scenic walkways that guide you through towering redwoods and fountain squares to a magnificent planetarium, you won't be able to exit the ark without a contented smile on your face.
While navigating the trails of the park, you will see oak-covered woods and the crowd-favorite Rose and Iris Gardens, among many other attractions.
If you are feeling a little adventurous, you can venture to the park's highest peak, which is slotted atop the rolling hills of Tama.
Get Geeky at Toshiba Science Museum
If you are one of those curious minds who wants to know more about the progression of science through the ages, Toshiba Science Museum would be a perfect option.
You can experience the dramatic changes that have taken place through the means of electronics.
At Toshiba Science Museum, follow the introduction of television to the advancements to what the digital space has come to.
With exhibits that showcase technological advancements like image recognition and nanotechnology, this interactive museum offers visitors a fun and enriching experience.
Even if you are not a science enthusiast, you'll definitely still enjoy visiting this museum and exploring its specialized spaces.
Take Part in the Annual Kanamara Matsuri, aka the Penis Festival
There is no denying that the Kanamara Matsuri, also known as the Penis Festival or the Festival of the Steel Phallus, is one of Japan’s most unique celebrations.
Held every year on the first Sunday of April, this festival is commemorated to celebrate sex, fertility, and the creation of life itself.
This fiesta will surely allow you experience the uniqueness of Japan like none other.
It is a joyful opportunity for locals to substitute the constraints of everyday life for cutting loose.
Although this festival honoring genitalia might seem bizarre and absurd to an outsider, particularly considering the Japanese's reputation for being reserved and discreet in their personal affairs, the event is an occasion to truly unwind and let one’s hair down.
So, if you are visiting around April, make it a point to join in on the festivities at the annual Kanamara Matsuri.
Soak up Some Sun at Higashitakane Forestry Park
Higashitakane Forestry Park is definitely one of the must-see attractions in Kawasaki for those who are drawn to greenery and the blossoming of flowers.
The park is located on the Kanagawa fringe of the Tama River and takes in a large area that features unique species of flora and fauna.
It is one of the few quarters to conserve and maintain the old Musashino field.
Interestingly enough, this park includes a forest walk that serves as an educational trail.
One may also go birdwatching or enjoy a pleasant stroll around the park.
Be assured that lounging around the grass and soaking up the sun will make your day.
It is the best place to be if you want a break from the stress of the city.
Visit Ozenji Temple
If you want to feel the tranquility of a temple while enjoying the incredible wildlife of the surrounding area, Ozenji Temple is the place to go.
Besides that, the temple calls itself home to the oldest sweet persimmon tree in the country—the Zenjimaru persimmon, which cradles the temple grounds.
Furthermore, there are a number of breathtaking Buddha statues exhibited around the ground.
Most of the visitors love catching a moment of peace among the splendidly magnificent trees, especially when the sun becomes punishing.
Hop on the World’s Shortest Escalator
The Guinness World Record holder for the shortest escalator in the world is located right within Kawasaki, specifically at More’s Department Store.
With just five steps and a height of 83.4 centimeters, it takes roughly eight seconds to transport customers from bottom to top.
Shop at the Posh La Cittadella
If you are looking for a posh place to shop till you drop, La Cittadella poses as an excellent option.
This shopping mall is only a short walk from Kawasaki Station and is perfect for drifting away from the city and stepping into an Italian town.
With facilities that range from a grand cineplex to massive concert halls, this mall will not let you down.
There are a host of shops and restaurants which pack a punch when it comes to serving a pleasurable and fulfilling shopping experience to the customers.
Even if you're not interested in shopping, La Cittadella is still worth your visit for its European ambiance that will leave you starry-eyed.
See the Tower of Wind from across Tokyo Bay
At first glance, this sail-like tower seems to be an installation and is sure to make you ponder its purpose.
In reality, this is an aeration shaft that provides air to the tunnel division of the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line.
This distinctive structure sits atop the midpoint of the tunnel.
Unfortunately, the Tower of Wind is not open to visitors.
One can, however, see it from across Tokyo Bay.
Witness the Retro-Futuristic Residential Complex at Kawaramachi
Japan is famed for its outsized cluster of apartment buildings.
The residential complex at Kawaramachi in Kawasaki stands out among many such structures.
Thanks to its cutting edge and innovative design, this residential complex gives off a major cyberpunk vibe.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Holler at the Action-Crammed, Fantasy-Like Amusement Park of Yomiuriland
If you are a fan of adrenaline-pumping rides, take a turn and head straight to Yomiuriland.
The largest amusement park in the whole of Tokyo, the theme park has been standing as a supersized recreational area for both children and adults since 1964.
Located in Inagi City, Yomiuriland is just an hour's drive away from Kawasaki.
Boasting attractions that range from dive-in pools to strolling spaces landscaped with sparkling lights, Yomiuriland will not disappoint you.
If you are fortunate enough to visit Kawasaki in spring, you will be blessed to see the bourgeoning of cherry trees.
Other than that, there are more attractions than meets the eye.
What might be called the absolute thrill fix is Yomiuriland's Riding Bandit, a roller coaster that sprawls through the trees.
Your inner adventure freak will surely thank you for hitting up this park.
However, if you are into tame, carefree rides, there are many options for a more relaxed theme park experience as well.
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