Only In Saitama Prefecture! Exciting Activities And Gorgeous Sights
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Only In Saitama Prefecture! Exciting Activities And Gorgeous Sights

Saitama 2016.02.29

This article introduces some fun sightseeing spots in the north of Saitama prefecture. The adventures that you can experience only in these areas are presented in detail.

Translated byLester Somera

Just a Kansai guy trying to get by

Written by Keisuke Yamada

In Saitama prefecture there are not only metropolitan areas, but also regions with bountiful nature, as well as places where you can still feel traditional culture in the air. For that reason, there are many activities and cultural experiences that can only be had at these unique locations in Saitama.

This time we will introduce some fun Saitama adventure sites.

Nagatoro “Down the Line” Nature Experience Attraction

Come to Nagatoro for sightseeing and head “down the line” in this experience on the Arakawa river. Ride a wooden boat down the beautiful Arakawa, and enjoy the grand scenery on both shores. This is a must for any visitor to Nagatoro.

As their name would suggest, the nationally-recognized natural monuments, the iwadatami, “tatami boulders,” appear to be spread-out tatami mats. The cliff on the opposite shore from the tatami boulders is known as the red wall of Chichibu. Viewed from the river, it looks like a work of art.

At points on the river tour, the boat may swing close to some boulders. Take a look at this video for such a scene.

Depending on the location, the current will pick up speed, so you can enjoy a thrilling ride.
※Passengers must wear life jackets, so you can be assured of safety precautions.

Information

Nagatoro "Down the Line" White Water Rafting

Location: Saitama, Chichibu-gun, Nagatoro-chō, Nagatoro 531-1
Operating hours: 10:00 - evening
Fixed holidays: Service suspended when river water levels are too high or too low
Wi-Fi: No
Credit cards accepted: No
Foreign language support: No
Foreign language menus: None
Access: 3 minutes’ walk from Nagatoro Station
Price ranges:
A course (3 kilometers/approx. 20 minutes) 1600 yen
B course (6 kilometers/approx. 40 minutes) 3000 yen
Religion: N/A
Phone number: 0494-66-0950
Official homepage: Nagatoro "Down the Line" White Water Rafting

Experience Nature in Chichibu Furusatomura

Chichibu Furusatomura is located in the center of nature, with abundant greenery and beautiful rivers. Here, you can experience vegetable gathering and get the chance to commune with nature, as well as come into contact with many animals. With Minamoto-sō, a lodging facility located close by, you can enjoy a dip in the hot spring after a fun day.
Our next article will talk a bit more about Minamoto-sō.

Many people who have watched soba noodle restaurant chefs pounding away at buckwheat dough have probably wanted to try it once. At Chichibu Furusatomura, you can try traditional Chichibu soba-making, with techniques that have long passed down. With step-by-step explanations, even first-timers can make delicious noodles.

You can try out the whole process yourself, from kneading the soba dough and shaping it, then finally slicing it with a knife.

You can also enjoy a nagashi sōmen experience, which is very popular with young children. Nagashi sōmen is a uniquely Japanese experience where diners slide sōmen noodles down a bamboo tube before eating them.

Chichibu Furusatomura offers other experiences, like harvesting sweet potatoes, bare-handed fishing, and many more, so take a further look at the homepage for more information.

Information

Chichibu Furusatomura

Address: Saitama, Chichibu-gun, Oganomachi Nagaru 220
Operating hours: 9:00 - 22:00 (available for contact)
Fixed holidays: None (Reservations required for activities)
Wi-Fi: None
Credit cards accepted: No
Foreign language support: None
Foreign language menus: None
Access: Five minutes’ walk from Matsuida Station on the JR Shin'etsu Main Line
Price range: starting from 500 yen
Religion: N/A
Phone number: 0494-75-4065
Official homepage: Chichibu Furusatomura (Japanese)

Take a Ride at the Railway Museum in Saitama

At the Railway Museum in Saitama, which is popular with both children and adults, you can ride a small-scale train and operate train simulators.

There are eight zones in the museum. In the history zone, there are several train car displays, and since you can actually enter them, you can feel what it was like to be a passenger on the trains of those past eras.

In the park zone, you can actually experience operating the mini-trains. On a 300-meter circular course that runs through grass and trees, you can attempt to slow and speed up on curves, as well as navigating the track at the same time with other trains.

Information

Railway Museum

Address: Saitama, Saitama, Ōmiya, Ōnari 3-47
Operating hours: 10:00 - 18:00 (Entry until 17:30)
Fixed holidays: Closed every Tuesday, and for the New Year holiday
Wi-Fi: None
Credit cards accepted: No
Foreign language support: No
Foreign language pamphlets: English, Chinese, Korean
Access: Directly connected to Tetsudō-Hakubutsukan Station
Price range: 1000 yen (adults), 500 yen (children)
Religion: N/A
Phone number: 048-651-0088
Official homepage: Railway Museum

Experience Japanese Culture at Hikawa Shrine

Hikawa Shrine, located in Saitama’s Ōmiya district, is said to have a history that is more than 2000 years old. Furthermore, many people enjoy walking the two-kilometer road to the shrine, which is lined with 650 zelkova elm trees. There are roughly 280 shrines with the name Hikawa in Saitama, Tokyo and Kanagawa, but the Hikawa Shrine in Ōmiya is the head shrine.

After crossing the divine bridge in the photo, there is a beautiful cherry blossom gate, lacquered vermilion. The inner sanctuary is close by, and you can feel a sacred aura that is different from most other places.

The Inari shrine, located on the grounds, has several vermilion-lacquered torii gates, and here you can feel Japan’s unique culture.

How about paying a visit to the Hikawa shrine in Ōmiya, and enjoying its holy atmosphere?

In the springtime the adjacent Ōmiya Park will have roughly a thousand cherry blossom trees in full bloom.

Information

Hikawa Shrine

Address: Saitama, Saitama, Ōmiya, Takahana 1-407
Operating hours:
Spring and fall (March, April, September, October) 5:30 - 17:30
Summer (May to August) 5:00 - 18:00
Winter (January, February, November, December) 6:00 - 17:00
Fixed holidays: None
Wi-Fi: No
Credit cards: N/A
Languages: Japanese
Foreign language menus: N/A
Access: 15 minutes walk from JR Ōmiya Station's east exit
Price: N/A
Religion: Shintō
Phone number: 048-641-0137
Official website: Hikawa Shrine (Japanese)

Play with the Animals at the Tōbu Public Zoo

The Tōbu Zoo is more than a zoo. Consisting of an amusement park and a pool, it is a large-scale entertainment establishment. There are many fun activities available that are not related to the zoo, that is why it enjoys popularity no matter when you visit.

At the zoo, there are approximately 120 different animal species and 1200 animals to meet. You can see the symbol of Tōbu Zoo, the white tiger, as well as penguins and lions up close. In addition, the “Hotarium,” where you can see fireflies all year round, is a popular exhibit.

The pool is open in the summer, while a light display is set up in winter. During the cold time of the year, a world of light brightly fills the space.

Thrilling rides like the “Regina” and “Kawasemi,” the world’s first wooden roller coasters built atop water surfaces, are also popular.

Information

Tōbu Zoo (Tōbu Dōbutsukōen)

Address: Saitama, Minami Saitama-gun, Miyashiromachi 110
Operating hours: Varies by season
Fixed holidays: Varies by season
Wi-Fi: No
Credit cards: No
Foreign language support: No
Foreign language pamphlets: English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese
Access: 10 minutes’ walk from Tōbu-Dōbutsukōen Station's west exit
Price range: 1700 yen for adults/700 yen for children (park admission)
Religion: N/A
Phone number: 0480-93-1200
Official homepage: Tōbu Zoo (Japanese)

In Conclusion

What do you think? In Saitama there is also a bonsai museum and great places to eat, which also double as sightseeing spots.

It’s very accessible from Tokyo, so by all means, come visit.

Read also: If You’re Going to Saitama, You Should Know These Popular Spots (Japanese source)
Read also: If You Visit Saitama, You Must Try These Gourmet Dishes

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