Speaking of Kawaguchi city, there is the famous Nishi-kawaguchi, famous for being an indecent city and Warabi famous for being a foreigners’ town, but what kind of place is Kawaguchi City? Kawaguchi has prospered for a long time as a foundry town.
Kawaguchi city (川口市), Saitama (埼玉県), is located just north of Tokyo, within 30 minutes of Ueno Station on the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line. It is near to Tokyo and the housing rent is cheap, so it is popular for commuters to Tokyo as a commuter town. The people who live in Saitama and commute to Tokyo are ironically called Saitama Tomin; a slang term.
Near Kawaguchi Station, many high-rise apartments where Saitama Tomin live soar. There are elevated pedestrian decks and shopping malls like Sogo. It seems like a large city rather than a foundry town.
There is a modern leisure complex, including a library, in front of Kawaguchi Station.
The name of this building is “Cupola” (キュポラ), taken from a cupola furnace, a melting device to melt irons in foundries.
The 1962 movie, “Foundry Town” (Japanese title is “Town of Cupola,” キューポラのある街), starring Sayuri Yoshinaga (吉永小百合), is very famous and depicts Kawaguchi city as a foundry town in the old days.
There is also a bronze statue of a casting craftsman, named “joy of working”, in front of the Cupola Building.
Kawaguchi city has become big as an industrial town in the postwar rapid economic growth period. It is famous in that the flame-holder used for the Tokyo Olympic Games was cast in Kawaguchi. The station name board of Kawaguchi Station is made with a casting plate.
When you walk toward the southeast from Kawaguchi Station on Route 89, there is a building called Yamada Shoten (山田商店), a shop of machine tools.
If you look up the word “鋳物” (casting in Japanese) in google maps, you can find many foundries in Kawaguchi. Most of them are small foundries and located in Aoki, Sakae-cho, Hon-cho, and Kanayama-cho. The nearest foundry with a cupola furnace is Muramatsu Foundry (村松鋳造) in 2-chome, Sakae-cho.
The history of Kawaguchi as a foundry town is very old and is said to begin before the 17th century. Because of its location near Tokyo, the transportability of Arakawa River, the easy gathering of sand as an ingredient, and an abundance of laborers, foundry town Kawaguchi prospered.
The number of foundries in Kawaguchi was about 700 at its peak in 1947, but nowadays, the number of foundries has been decreasing and now, only there are about 100. Kawaguchi city became a large city and a commuter town, so some foundries moved to suburban areas. Some foundries closed because of globalization and the recession. The foundry sites changed to high-rise apartments and houses.
There are foundries and houses mixed in these areas, so there are still some the foundry signboards, that says “Here is an industrial area, so please understand some dusts, noises, and odors.”
There is Kawaguchi Shrine (川口神社) in Kanayama-cho. The name of a foundry which donates to this shrine is written on the gate (torii) of Kawaguchi Shrine.
There is a small shrine called Kanayama Shrine, that worships the God of mining and the casting industry. The neighborhood of Kawaguchi Shrine, Kanayama-cho and Hon-cho, used to be the center of Kawaguchi city. There are old buildings in these areas.
When you walk to the south, there is “Kawaguchi city maternal and children welfare center (川口市母子福祉センター).” This facility performs consultations or guidance for single mothers or fathers. This building was built in the 1910s and used as a casting wholesale dealer’s residence.
Kawaguchi city used to be a foundry town, but nowadays foundries have decreased and it has become a commuter town. You can see the scenery of mixed foundries and high-rise apartments.
commuter town (ベッドタウン) : Tokyo is a very expensive place to rent houses and people tend to live near Tokyo, mostly in the south of Saitama prefecture. Kawaguchi city, Warabi city, Tokorozawa city and Toda city are famous for being commuter towns.
Saitama Tomin (埼玉都民) : The people who live in Saitama and commute to Tokyo are ironically called Saitama Tomin; a slang term. They live in Saitama, but they don’t know about Saitama and their hangout is Tokyo, especially Ikebukuro.
[How to go] a 10 minute from the East Exit of Kawaguchi Station (川口駅) on the JR Keihin Tohoku Line (京浜東北線)
Muramatsu Foundry (村松鋳造) : 2 Chome-12-19 Sakae-cho, Kawaguchi city (川口市栄町2-12-19)
Kawaguchi Shrine (川口神社) : 6-15 Kanayama-cho, Kawaguchi city (川口市金山町6-15)
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