"The Formative Period of 'Kashiya Yokocho (Penny Candy Alley)' in Kawagoe"

30 minutes Northwest of Ikebukuro by the express Tobu Tojo train Line, the ward Motomachi ni-chome of Kawagoe city in Saitama prefecture remains rare place. It took its nickname "Kawagoe Penny Candy Alley" (Kawagoe kashiyayokochō)", from the concentration of candy stores that line one after the other in the alley. From the beginning in the Meiji era through the Taisho era and to the beginning of Showa era, candies were crafted and sold in 70 stores gathered in the surroundings of the Yōjuin temple. At this time, Kawagoe Penny Candy Alley was the most prosperous of its kind in Kanto area. In our days, only around ten shops remain on both sides of the alley, but the alley has become the centerpiece of sightseeing in Kawagoe, and is crammed with visitors on holidays.

Inception --- Mr.Tozaemon Suzuki (1841-1893) comes on the scene

Apparently way before the appearance of Penny Candy Alley, such areas as Dairenji yokocho in the same quarter and Ishihara in the adjacent one were dotted with suppliers of candies, including Tozaemon Suzuki, who moved from Kawagoe Honcho to the current Penny Candy Alley, where he opened "MATSUMOTOYA" in the early Meiji era.

From "MATSUMOTOYA" four confectioners became independent in the Meiji era.

They formed the foundation of "Kashiya Yokocho".
※ Out of these four only one store, "MORITOKU" (the current "KOEDO-CHAYA") remains in "Kashiya Yokocho" now.

Following the genealogy about each confectioner since the Meiji era, there were nine lines in addition to the above-mentioned original four, and shops proliferated one after the other in the narrow alley.

In 1923, when the alley was still in the developmental stage, the Great Kanto Earthquake hit the whole Kanto region, giving devastating impact on the industry. While most of the confectioners in Tokyo got ruined or disorganised, the damage was little in "Kashiya Yokocho." Therefore in this time of shortage of sweets, custommers from southern Kanto rushed to the Penny Candy Alley, which enjoyed an unprecedented economic growth.

According to the "Kawagoe Chamber of Commerce for Receipt of Revenue Tax Declaration in the Showa 15th Fiscal Year" (Kawagoe Chamber of Commerce and Industry Collection), there seems to be at least 60 shops in the end.

(Reference) " Penny Candy Alley at end of World War Ⅱ.""

In the background of the establishment of a professional community of sweets as a side street, a large number of vendors specialized in each, even though there was great elasticity in connection with the branch of the master and the craftsman, and the disciples who shared the goods with the parent store. However, it is not enough to capture the character of Penny Candy Alley as a professional community only. Perhaps, if it were only that, some crisis that occurred during the 100-year history of Meiji, Taisho, Showa, Heisei would have caused the collaption of the community.

The secret key that has kept the collaboration of the Yokocho for such a long time is in the fact that the professional community overlaps the community based on blood relationship. Among the 60 confectionary shops in the Showa era as mentioned above, since the Meiji era there were 20 cases in which sons took over their fathers' business (out of which two cases lasted for three generations and in two cases the sons were adopted), seven cases where brothers grew up as craftworkers and became independent separately, opening their own shops in the alley, two cases in which shop owners' daughters married to craftworkers in the alley, six cases where shop owners' sisters married to craftworkers in the alley and three cases in which both elder and younger sisters got married respectively to craftworkers of the alley. Four other cases have blood relationships such as cousins, uncle-nephew and so on. Moreover, these relationships overlap each other and they are also connected with the master-apprentice relations, generating extremely dense relationships. In the professional community, in general, power relationships are likely to occur internally, economic conflicts are easy to be born. Whereas among such dense human relations, thanks to familiarity it may have been easy to have production adjustment, mutual technical exchanges and lending and borrowing of materials and utensils.

"Kawagoe Penny Candy Alley" was both a professional community formed in response to the market of the region and a community of candy craftworkers largely based on blood reltionship formed just before the age of mass production and mass consumption. Perhaps that is why it was able to create a relatively long life history.

Excerpt from "The Formative Period of 'Kashiya Yokocho (Penny Candy Alley)' in Kawagoe,"

Kagawa Nutrition Science Institute Annual Report, vol. 4 extra issue (June 30, 1996).
Author: Prof. Makoto Matsudaira, Culture Laboratory, Kagawa Nutrition University.