Jun and I went to Kawagoe in Saitama prefecture for a day of sweet potato digging and sightseeing. Kawagoe is famous for its sweet potatoes. The sweet potato harvest happens every year from September to November. The Kawagoe Tourist Information Office recommended Arahata Nouen for sweet potato digging.
Can you dig it?
After arriving we were directed to the sweet potato field where dozens of other people were busily digging. We were given a marked off area to dig. For 500 yen per person you can dig up 10 sweet potatoes each. Luckily Jun came prepared with gloves, boots, bags, and tiny trowels for digging. But if you’re an unorganized person such as myself, it’s also ok to dig wearing sneakers…. but I wouldn’t recommend it.
A cheerful smile from the potato chef
After we finished digging we walked over to the outside sinks to wash our hands. Next to it is an area to sample steamed sweet potatoes for free! What tastes better than sweet potatoes? Free sweet potatoes! Its also a cool way to watch and learn how to prepare sweet potatoes for cooking.
The Sweetest Thing
A short drive from Arahata Nouen is the Warehouse District. The Warehouse District (Kurazukuri Street) is lined with traditional warehouses and merchant homes selling all kinds of sweet potato products. We found senbei, bread, coffee, chips, beer, and ice cream all made from sweet potatoes!
Best of Both Worlds
Many of the merchant shops and stalls sell sweet potato ice cream. I couldn’t decide which was better so I bought sweet potato (satsuma imo) and purple sweet potato (beni imo) mix ice cream. Both were delicious and I was not disappointed. Being indecisive occasionally has its delicious benefits! Jun and I also sampled sesame and black sesame ice cream.
Candy Street (Kurazukuri Street) is a short walk from the warehouse district. On Candy Street we were able to find lots of traditional Japanese shops selling candy and toys. I even saw candy cigarettes, cat masks, candy soda, and candy legos. It reminded me of going to the neighborhood candy store when I was a kid. In the end I think it was almost too much for my sweet tooth to handle…. almost!
Kawagoe Tourism Website
Sweet Potato Digging
Kawagoe-Shi, Saitama Prefecture 350-1162
Minami Otsuka 6-12-33
By Courtney Cauthen