MATCHA's English language editorial board. We are bringing you the latest travel information on Japan. Yoroshiku!
If you are looking to get out of the city, then a trip to nature and history rich Saitama might be just what you need! With its Edo-era attractions in Kawagoe and fascinating shrines, Saitama is a great place to spend time.
MATCHA's English language editorial board. We are bringing you the latest travel information on Japan. Yoroshiku!
Written by Sawada Tomomi
Along with Chiba and Kanagawa, Saitama is one of the prefectures surrounding Japan's capital, Tokyo, and with the capital right near it, this area is blessed with abundant rivers and prosperous agriculture. Thanks to these plentiful natural wonders, Saitama is also a great place to take part in outdoor activities too. Known for its cast metal and traditional handicrafts, here you can also purchase souvenirs the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else in Japan.
1. How to Reach Saitama
2. About the JR TOKYO Wide Pass
3. Transportation in Saitama
4. Saitama Area Guide
5. 35 Recommended Sightseeing Spots
6. Hotels and Accommodations in Saitama
7. Saitama's Gourmet Scene
8. Shopping Spots in Saitama
9. The Weather in Saitama
10. Other Important Travel Information
Located in the dead center of the long and narrow Japanese islands, Saitama is found to the north of Tokyo.
The base for sightseeing in Saitama is the prefectural capital, Omiya. From Omiya Station, there are the JR East trains, Tobu Railways, Saitama New Urban Transit trains (New Shuttle), as well as many different buses to choose from. Now we will introduce how to travel to Omiya from Tokyo, as well as from Tokyo's two major airports, Narita Airport and Haneda Airport.
Tokyo Station (Ueno-Tokyo line) to Omiya Station
It is possible to travel from Tokyo to Omiya without having to transfer trains. It takes about 31 minutes and will cost about 550 yen.
Shinjuku Station (Saikyo line) to Omiya Station
Shinjuku Station (Shonan-Shinjuku line) to Omiya Station
Traveling from Shinjuku to Omiya via the Saikyo line takes about 33 minutes, while by the Shonan-Shinjuku line it takes 31 minutes - both routes cost 470 yen.
Shibuya Station (Saikyo line) to Omiya Station
Shibuya Station (Shonan-Shinjuku line) to Omiya Station
The route from Shibuya to Omiya is the same as that from Shinjuku to Omiya; the Saikyo line will take 38 minutes, while the Shonan-Shinjuku will take 40 minutes, and both routes will cost 550 yen.
Now let's look at how to travel from Narita and Haneda airports to Omiya.
There are countless ways to travel from Narita Airport to Omiya. Here are our most recommend routes.
JR and Keisei Skyliner
This is the fastest route possible from Narita to Omiya. Take the Keisei Skyliner from Narita Airport to Nippori Station, then transfer to the Keihin Tohoku line and get off at Omiya Station.
Price: 2860 yen
Takes: about 90 minutes
Website: Keisei Skyliner
There are numerous bus services that travel between Narita Airport and the west exit of Omiya Station. Though taking somewhat longer than the Keisei Skyliner, these are the perfect option for people traveling with a lot of luggage as there are no transfers required.
Price: 2800 yen
Takes: about 2 hours
Website: Highway bus
JR Narita Express
When traveling from Narita Airport to Omiya, this is the most expensive route that also may or may not require many transfers, so this route is not recommended. If it is possible to take this as a direct route, though, it can be good.
Price: 3840 yen
Takes: about 2 hours
Website: JR Narita Express
Traveling from Haneda Airport to Omiya by train requires you to do at least two transfers in the Tokyo area, making it somewhat inconvenient. If you would prefer a transfer-free route, then we recommend taking the bus from Haneda to the west exit of Omiya Station instead.
Although Japanese public transportation tends to be quite reliable, there are cases where, due to traffic jams or road congestion, the buses can get off schedule easily and run late. If you are going to be taking the bus, then you will want to give yourself plenty of time to travel or leave somewhat early, just to be safe.
On the route from Haneda Airport to Omiya Station's west exit, there are numerous different buses companies offering airport bus services. The time required and the schedules for each varies.
Price: 1-way adult 1540 yen (late night and early morning 3080 yen)
Takes: from 65 to 110 minutes
Website: Airport Buses
If you plan on traveling in the Tokyo area, JR East offers the JR TOKYO Wide Pass which is very economical and convenient to use. This is the new version of the former JR Kanto Area Pass, which was updated in November of 2015; the JR TOKYO Wide Pass allows the holder to travel more widely than the former.
The validity period of this pass is three consecutive days and allows the holder to ride as much as they want on the JR routes during this time. This ticket, for those 12 years old and up costs 10,000 yen, while for children ages 6-11, it costs 5000 yen. JR TOKYO Wide Pass can be purchased at the locations listed below. Please note, however, that you will need to present your passport at the time of purchase.
- JR EAST Travel Service Center (Narita/Haneda Airports, Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station)
- Byuu Plaza (Shinagawa, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Ueno, Yokohama and Mito Station)
- Station Ticket Windows (Narita Airport Station Terminal 2 Station)
See Tailor-Made Holidays in Japan with Japan Rail Pass for more.
Starting with the JR East lines, numerous different train lines travel through Saitama, connecting the various sightseeing spots and making it easy to move about the area. By separating the railroads from the buses and pointing out their features here, this article may also function as a reference guide to your travels.
* The above photograph shows the routes through Saitama, and lists the lines in this order: Chichibu lines (green routes), Tobu Tojo lines (blue routes), Seibu Ikebukuro lines (orange routes), JR lines (striped pattern), as well as the mobile highway lines (double lines).
When traveling in Japan, you cannot beat the JR lines. There are various JR lines that pass through Saitama (Takasaki line, Utsunomiya line, Keihin Tohoku line, Saikyo line, Musashino line, Hachiko line) and connect the cities of Saitama, Kawagoe, and Kumagaya.
Running through the east side of Saitama city to most major cities are the Tobu trains (Noda line and Isesaki line). And, the Tobu Tojo line travels from Tokyo's Ikebukuro Station towards Kawagoe Station and beyond. Along this railway line you can find the Satoe Memorial 21st Century Art Museum and Koedo Kawagoe as well.
The Seibu railways are best for those heading in the Hanno, Chichibu and Hanyuu directions. Along this line you will find Hitsujiyama Park, Seibu Prince Dome, Chichibu Shrine and other attractions.
The Chichibu lines connect the Kumagaya, Nagatoro and Chichibu areas. The SL Paleo Express and the Nagatoro-Chichibu areas and other sightseeing spots are found here.
This area extends from Saitama city's Omiya Station northwards to Okegawa. Along this railway line there is a popular railway museum.
Along the Saitama High Speed rail you will find the Saitama Stadium 2002; from the Tokyo area towards Wako you can take the Tokyo Metro lines.
This is a means of accessing and connecting the Yashio and Misato area with the Tokyo metropolitan area.
Connecting Koedo and other Kawagoe-centric sightseeing spots, these buses link this major Saitama city with Haneda Airport and Narita Airport.
Connecting the JR, Seibu Ikebukuro, Chichibu, and Tobu line stations, these buses are a good means of accessing places throughout the prefecture. They also operate the highway buses that connect Saitama's major cities to Haneda and Narita airports.
Primarily traveling from the northwest of the Tokyo metropolitan area to the southwest of Saitama prefecture, these buses connect the Seibu railways heading towards Chichibu and the Tobu Tojo line.
These buses travel to those areas not serviced by major buses; particularly in the eastern side of Saitama, to Matsubushimachi, Yoshikawa, Koshigaya and Saitama city directions.
Mainly serving the northwest of Saitama prefecture and connecting this to Isesaki in Gunma prefecture, these buses also travel to Haneda Airport.
Now, let's take a closer look at the 6 areas that Saitama is divided into and their regional features.
The prefectural capital of Saitama, this is where the Nakasendo (the former Edo-Kyoto highway) and the old post town of Shukubamachi (where there were many inns) once prospered. Even now this area prospers as Saitama's business and commercial center. In Saitama Shintoshin there are many large shopping centers and multipurpose halls such as the Saitama Super Arena. Two of the highlights of this region are the incredible Bonsai Village, Omiya Bonsai Museum, and the headquarters of the Hikawa Shrine are also located here.
A former Edo era castle town, Kawagoe is located in central Saitama. Known as Koedo, there are many lovely warehouse style buildings that still remain here, and it feels like you have fallen back in time when you visit this area. Along the Kashi Yokocho you will find numerous shops selling traditional Japanese sweets as well as contemporary candies that you can eat as you walk along the street.
The Soka and Kasukabe area is located in the eastern side of Saitama prefecture. Soka is best known for Soka sembei, while Kasukabe is where the popular anime Crayon Shin-chan is set. It is said that the haiku poet Matsuo Basho passed through this area and the stone paving promenade and the 600 matsunamiki trees that make up the Soka Matsubara are a well-loved place for rest and relaxation for the citizenry of the area.
Tokorozawa and Sayama are surrounded by nature and located in the southern side of Saitama prefecture. Endowed with the Seibuen amusement park and the hill country at Sayama Nature Park, this amusement park and recreational facility rich area is an excellent place for families to spend time together. And here, Studio Ghibli fans will be delighted to be able to call on Totoro's forest and Kurosuke's home here too.
The Chichibu area is in the western side of Saitama prefecture and is surrounded by mountains and nature. Easily reached from the Tokyo area by express train in about an hour and a half, you can take the Hodosan Ropeway, or the Nagatoro Line downward train, as well as enjoy other outdoor activities. The closest steam locomotive running to a city center, the Chichibu railway, the SL Paleo Express, is exceptionally popular.
Kumagaya and Fukuya are located in the northern side of Saitama prefecture and this is where there are many ancient burial mounds, known as kofun. A famous sakura spot since the Edo era, the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi and the protected national monument, the roughly 1200-year-old Ushijimanofuji are just two of the sights that can be enjoyed in this area.
As there are numerous sightseeing spots to choose from in Saitama, now we will focus on a hand-selected collection of 35 of our most recommended tourist attractions.
The personality-filled warehouse style buildings of Koedo are the number one tourist attraction in the Kawagoe area. Upon arriving, one of the first things that you should do is to pick up a tourist map from the nearest station. Toki no Kane, Kashiya Yokocho, Taishoroman-dori - there are plenty of things to see in this area. Don't miss it.
Address: Saitama, Kawagoe, Motomachi 1-15-8
The nearest station to Koedo is Kawagoe Station, serviced by the JR Saikyo, JR Hachiko, Tobu Tojo, Tokyo Metro Yurakucho, and Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin lines. From the station's east exit you can take the Koedo Meisho Meguri Bus, or from the west exit, the Koedo Junkai bus. Or, you can take the Seibu Shinjuku line to Hon-Kawagoe Station and catch the Koedo Junkai bus from there.
The steam locomotive SL Paleo Express, operated by the Chichibu Railway Company, starts from Kumagaya station and ends up at Mitsumineguchi station, running for 2 hours and 40 minutes through the heart of Chichibu's natural scenery. This is a highly popular spot with Japanese tourists as well. Before venturing out first be sure to check times in the Chichibu Railway schedule.
In addition to the first and last stops on this line, it's also possible to get on and off at other stations in between as well. For example, JR Takasaki line, Joetsu-Nagano shinkansen's Kumagaya station, JR Hachiko line, Tobu Tojo line's Yorii station and Seibu line's Seibu Chichibu station's Ohanabatake station.
In addition to a ticket for the section of the line traveled, passengers booking a reserved seat will also be required to purchase an SL reserved-seat ticket, and passengers booking a non-reserved seat will have to purchase an SL numbered ticket (non-reserved seat). Both the SL reserved-seat and non-reserved seat tickets go on sale one month before the first day of train service. These tickets are limited, so to avoid disappointment it's best to purchase them as soon as possible.
SL reserved-seat ticket - 720 Yen (adults and children - same price)
*ticket holders are guaranteed a seat.
SL numbered ticket (unreseved) - 510 Yen (adults and children - same price)
*this is a non-reserved ticket so there might be instances when ticket holders won't be able to board the train.
This is the former private residence of the Ota family. From the middle of the Edo period, they were in the business of trading sake, rice, shoyu (soy sauce), oil and other products plus they operated a hatagoya, a place providing both accommodation and meals. It's been said that this two-storey wooden house with a tiled roof has a history dating back roughly 150 years. Even today, two large warehouses remain. The house is open for public viewing but only on the third Saturday of every month, from 10 am to 3 pm.
The nearest station is Yashio station on the Tsukuba Express line. From the station's north exit get on board a Yashio city community bus going north (Yashio #3 or Yashio #4) and get off at the Waheibashi bus stop. From here it's a 3-minute walk.
Address: Saitama, Yashio city, Hachijo 3732
At Seibuen Yuenchi, located in Tokorozawa city, not only are there rides such as a Ferris wheel but there are also many attractions featuring Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters which are popular overseas as well. The swimming pool facility is used as a pool in the summer and as a fishing spot in the fall. In the winter visitors can enjoy riding snow sleds in the area.
The nearest stations are Seibu Yuenchi station (Seibu Tamako line, Yamaguchi line) and Seibuen station (Seibuen line). Access from any station is 5 minutes or less on foot.
Address: Saitama, Tokorozawa, Yamaguchi 2964
Admission: only necessary for amusement park entry
Adults (junior high school students and up) - 1,100 Yen, Seniors (over 60 years of age) and Children (3 years old to elementary school students) - 500 Yen
One day free ticket (admission to amusement park and all-you-can-ride on park attractions): Adults (junior high school students and up) - 3,300 Yen, Seniors (over 60 years of age) and Children (3 years old to elementary school students) - 2,800 Yen
This park which centers around a wooded area is comprised of ponds and swamps, and marshy areas and grasslands. Inside the park there is a cycling course, a full-course athletic facility, a water park and many other facilities that allow parents and children to enjoy themselves. In the fall season, visitors can enjoy looking at an illumination that lights up the sky in the colors of autumn.
The nearest station is Shinrin Koen station (Tobu Tojo line) and Kumagaya station (JR Takasaki line). From both stations there is a bus that goes to the park.
Address: Saitama, Hikigun, Namegawa-machi, Yamata 1920
Admission: Adults (high school students and up) - 410 Yen, Seniors (65 years old and up) - 210 Yen, Children (elementary and junior high school students) - 80 Yen
Musashino Mura, which is run jointly with Saitama prefecture's agricultural cooperative, is not simply an amusement park. It's a leisure facility aimed at families where you can have agricultural hands-on experiences such as picking fruit and so on. There's also a barbecue area and a pet farm where you can come into contact with various animals, making this the perfect spot to enjoy nature with your children.
From Kazo station (Tobu Isesaki line) it takes 15 minutes by taxi. At certain times of the year, complimentary shuttle bus service is available.
Address: Saitama, Kazo city, Shidama 1700-1
Admission: Adults (junior high school students and up) - 1,200 Yen, Children (over 3 years of age) - 650 Yen
Free pass (park entry, all-you-can-ride attractions, pool in the summer): Adults (junior high school students and up) - 2,900 Yen, Children (over 3 years of age) - 2,300 Yen
With an exhibition featuring actual trains and a giant diorama, this railway museum is one spot where railway enthusiasts won't be able to get enough. Here visitors can learn about the mechanics of railway technology and also have an experience operating a train with the driving simulators, making this a museum where both adults and children alike can enjoy themselves.
The nearest station is just one stop from Omiya station, Tetsudo Hakubutsukan station (JR East). It's 1 minute away on foot from exit #1.
Address: Saitama, Saitama city, Omiya, Taisei-cho 3-47
Admission: Adults-1,000 Yen, Elementary, Junior High and High School Students-500 Yen, Children (3 years of age and up) - 200 Yen
Located within the confines of Kita-Urawa Park is the Museum of Modern Art.
There are many works of art on display here. From international master painters such as Chagall and Picasso, all the way to artists connected with Saitama prefecture, and also contemporary Japanese artists. Exhibitions are also regularly held.
The nearest station is Kita-Urawa station (JR Keihin Tohoku line). It's 3 minutes on foot from the station.
Address: Saitama, Saitama city, Urawa, Tokiwa 9-30-1
The Satoe Memorial Art Museum of 21st Century has a Japanese-style garden dotted with 20 sculptures and a creek filled with colored carp. This is a museum where one can enjoy the harmony of each season's natural beauty, combined with the sculptures and other works of art.
The nearest station is Hanasaki station (Tobu Railway). From the station it's 15 minutes on foot.
Address: Saitama, Kazo city, Mizubukaodateno 2067
Admission: Adults-900 Yen, University students / High School students-700 Yen, Elementary / Junior High School students-600 Yen, Disabled persons-500 Yen, Pre-school children-free
Various kinds of plants tucked away inside pottery bowls, miniature sized but natural in appearance. This is one of the bonsai's appealing features. Nowadays the popularity of bonsai has spread outside the boundaries of Japan to all corners of the world. Though Tokyo was once devastated by the great Kanto earthquake, bonsai lovers got together and built this bonsai village. When in Saitama you can also enjoy the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum.
The nearest station is Omiya Koen station (Tobu Noda line). From the station it's 3 minutes on foot. From Toro station on JR East's Utsunomiya line (Tohoku-Honsen line), it's 10 minutes away on foot.
Address: Saitama, Saitama city, Kita, Bonsai machi
Admission: Adults-300 Yen, High School students / University students / Persons over the age of 65-150 Yen, Elementary School and Junior High School students-100 Yen
Ranzan Valley, which was once visited by the Japanese female poet Akiko Yosano, is an ideal spot to enjoy each season's colorful appearance brought on by the abundant trees. Ranzan Valley looks similar to Kyoto's Arashiyama, so it's sometimes referred to as Musashinokuni no Arashiyama, and annually attracts many visitors.
The closest station is Musashi Ranzan station (Tobu Tojo line).
Address: Saitama, Hikigun, Ranzan machi, Kamagata 2627
Nakatsukyo, located in the Chichibu region, is called the most picturesque place to see kōyō, or the autumn colors. Famous for its beautiful fall foliage, the Nakatsukyo Valley starts from Oname and continues for roughly 10 kilometers until it reaches Nakatsugawa. An autumn festival is held when the color of the leaves reach their peak, and the many visitors that it attracts create a lively atmosphere. You can enjoy hiking, mountain stream fishing, and camping, and there's also a hot spring nearby.
The nearest station is Chichibu Tetsudo Mitsumineguchi station. From here you hop onto a Seibu Kanko bus headed for Nakatsugawa. Your ride will be about 50 minutes and then you get off at Aiharabashi.
Address: Saitama, Chichibu city, Nakatsugawa
Every year about 2 million people visit Nagatoro. Nagatoro river white water rafting is a popular activity that you can try from early March until early December every year.
One of the area's highlights is the Nagatoro Sekiheki cliffs which are associated with Nagatoro Iwadatami (rocks resembling layers of tatami) and the Chinese story Sankokushi (Battle of the Red Cliffs).
The nearest station is Chichibu Tetsudo Nagatoro station. From here it's only a 5-minute walk.
Address: Saitama, Chichibu, Nagatoro machi, Nagatoro
Located in Hanno city, Lake Naguri is a man-made lake courtesy of Arima dam. Near the lakeside, surrounded by mountains, one can enjoy canoeing, fishing and having a barbecue. We recommend venturing out for a one day trip to a hot spring called Sawarabino-yu, where you can rest and ease your travel fatigue.
The nearest station is Hanno station on the Seibu Ikebukuro line. At the station hop on a Kokusai Kogyo bus and ride for 45 minutes, then get off at Sawarabi no Yu and walk a further 20 minutes.
Address: Saitama, Hanno city, Shimonaguri
At the Sayama Hills, which straddle both Tokyo's Higashi Murayama city and Saitama prefecture's Tokorozawa city, you can see some gorgeous scenery offered by the nearby woodlands. Apparently, this area also served as one of the models for director Hayao Miyazaki's famous animated movie, Tonari no Totoro. Highlights worth noting are the areas operated by The Totoro no Furusato Foundation such as Totoro's forest, Kurosuke's house and Sayama lake to name just a few of the numerous areas.
There are several ways to get here, but one of the simplest routes is to head straight for Kurosuke's house. The closest station is Seibu Ikebukuro line's Kotesashi station. From the station hop on a bus going to Waseda University or Miyadera Nishi, get off at Dainichido and then walk 5 minutes.
Address: Saitama, Tokorozawa city, Arahata
Kuroyama Santaki consists of three waterfalls: odaki (male waterfall), medaki (female waterfalls) and tengudaki (the long-nosed goblin waterfall), and is a great place to go hiking as you look at the falls.
With Kuroyama as its focal point, the area has been designated Saitama Prefectural Kuroyama Nature Park, and is also listed on Japan's top 100 sightseeing spots.
The nearest station is Ogose station (Tobu Ogose line and JR Hachiko line). From the station get on a Kawagoe Kanko bus headed for Kuroyama and get off at the final stop.
Address: Saitama, Iruma-gun, Ogose-machi, Kuroyama
Designated a natural monument, it's the prefecture's only sightseeing cave. Still remaining inside the cave after many years is a sacred place for worshipping.
Being inside this 140-meter-long cave and breathing in the cool mountain air will perk up your sense of adventure. Inside could be a little slippery so be sure to wear sneakers. Take note that the cave will be closed for the winter season from the middle of December until the end of February.
The nearest station is Urayamaguchi (Chichibu Railway). After exiting the station it takes about 15 minutes on foot.
Address: Saitama, Chichibu city, Kamikagemori 708
Hitsujiyama Park which sits at the foot of Mt. Bukoh is located in the eastern part of Chichibu city. This sightseeing spot is known for its superb views not only in Japan but overseas as well. With Mt. Bukoh serving as a backdrop, the blooming flowers dazzle visitors with their seasonal colors. At the interactive pet farm, the sheep (hitsuji), which the park is named after, make a charming sight as they leisurely roam inside the grounds.
The nearest station is Ohanabatake station (Chichibu Railway) and Seibu Chichibu station (Seibu Railway). From either station it's no more than a 20-minute walk.
Address: Saitama, Chichibu city, Omiya 6360
Omiya Park which was chosen as one of the top 100 spots in Japan for viewing cherry blossoms, has numerous sports facilities and is known in Saitama as one of the most heavily used prefectural parks. Inside the park grounds there is a zoo and a Japanese-style garden and at the park's entrance is Hikawa-jinja Shrine.
From the east exit of JR Omiya station, it's 20 minutes on foot to the park. Also, from Tobu Noda line's Omiya Koen station or Kita Omiya station, it's only 10 minutes on foot.
Address: Saitama, Saitama city, Omiya, Takahana-cho
The Tobu Zoo is a leisure complex incorporating a zoo, amusement park and other attractions.
Many events geared for children are held here. During the summer there is a wave pool and kid's pool, and in the evening fireworks light up the sky.
The nearest station is Tobu Zoo station on the Tobu Skytree line (Tobu Isesaki line). From the west exit the park is only 10 minutes away on foot.
Address: Saitama, Minamisaitama district, Miyashiro-machi, Suka 110
Admission: Adults-1,700 Yen, Children-700 Yen, Seniors-1,000 Yen
One-Day Pass (includes zoo entry and all-you-can-ride attractions): Adult-4,800 Yen, Children-3,700 Yen, Seniors-3,700 Yen
Soka Matsubara, also known as Sembon Matsubara (literally 1,000-tree Matsubara), is a promenade paved with stone and lined with hundreds of pine trees, and is one part of the Nikko Kaido*. Nearby is the Hyakutaibashi bridge and Yatatebashi bridge, both of which are associated with famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho's work entitled Oku no Hosomichi, or "The Narrow Road to the North". This area has a relationship with haiku, so for those interested in poetry this is a great place to visit.
*Nikko Kaido: a route built during the Edo period, connecting Edo (present-day Tokyo) with Nikko.
The nearest station is Matsubaradanchi station (Tobu Isesaki line). From the east exit it's only 5 minutes on foot.
Address: Saitama, Soka city, Sakae-cho 1
In every region of Japan there are numerous places famous for flowers, and this is the place to see wisteria. With wisteria trees dating back some 1,200 years, Ushijima no Fuji (the Wisteria in Ushijima) has been designated as a national treasure. During peak periods, the flower clusters of the silky wisteria reaching 2.7 meters in length is an impressive sight. Best viewing times are generally from late April until early May. If this period coincides with your travel plans, definitely try to make a visit here.
The nearest station is Ushijima station (Tobu Noda line). From the station it's a 10-minute walk.
Address: Saitama, Kasukabe city, Ushijima 786
When spring arrives, the banks of the Arakawa river are beautifully lined with 500 cherry trees (somei yoshino variety) extending some 2 kilometers. Every year during the blooming period which runs from the end of March until early April, the Kumagaya Sakura festival is held and the area comes alive with the sound of visitors enjoying hanami (cherry blossom viewing). From the early evening until 9 pm the cherry trees are illuminated, creating a magical atmosphere.
The nearest station is Kumagaya station (JR East). From the south exit it's a 5-minute walk.
Address: Saitama, Kumagaya city, Kawaramachi 2
The Seibu Prince Dome is the home stadium of the Seibu Lions professional baseball team who are based here in Saitama. In addition to baseball, the stadium is used for a variety of events and the roof is retractable allowing the stadium to be completely enclosed.
The closest station is Seibukyujo-mae station (Seibu Sayama line and Seibu Yamaguchi line). It's 7 minutes on foot from the station to the dome.
Address: Saitama, Tokorozawa city, Kamiyamaguchi 2135
Serving as a concert hall and also as a venue for sporting activities and trade fairs, the Saitama Super Arena is a multi-purpose facility that can be adjusted to accommodate a wide variety of events. This facility is indispensable to the events scene in the greater Tokyo / Kanto area.
The nearest station is Saitama-Shintoshin station on the JR Keihin-Tohoku line, Utsunomiya line and Takasaki line (Ueno-Tokyo line) and Kita-Yono station (JR Saikyo line). From either station it's a 7-minute walk.
Adjacent to the multi-purpose Saitama Super Arena and set up with restaurants and other services, the Keyaki Hiroba is an open space built on man-made land. Loved by the locals, everything from concerts to flea markets and other events are held here.
The nearest station is Saitama-Shintoshin station on the JR Keihin-Tohoku line, Utsunomiya line and Takasaki line (Ueno-Tokyo line) and Kita-Yono station (JR Saikyo line). From either station it's a 7-minute walk.
Address: Saitama, Saitama city, Chuo, Shintoshin 8
Omiya Sonic City Hall is the largest multi-purpose convention center in Saitama prefecture. This huge complex is comprised of three separate buildings and houses an event hall, hotel, office space, meeting rooms and other amenities.
The nearest station is Omiya station on the JR Tobu Noda line. From the west exit it's 3 minutes on foot.
Address: Saitama, Saitama city, Omiya, Sakuragi-cho 1-7-5
Saitama Stadium 2002, is one of Japan's largest soccer stadiums and has a natural grass field. In addition to J League (Japan pro soccer league) games, the stadium also hosts high school soccer and international soccer games.
The nearest station is Urawamisono station (Saitama Railway line). From the station to the stadium there is a special pedestrian route that takes about 15 minutes.
Address: Saitama, Saitama city, Midori, Nakanoda 500
Hikawa shrine, located in Saitama city, is the head shrine of the approximately 200 Hikawa shrines located throughout Tokyo and Saitama. During the year many rites and festivals are held here. During Shōgatsu sanganichi, or the first 3 days of the new year, approximately 2 million worshippers make a visit here, reportedly making it one of the 10 most visited shrines in all of Japan.
The nearest station is Omiya Koen station or Kita Omiya station, both on the Tobu Noda line. It's 10 minutes on foot from either station.
Also from Omiya station (JR East and Tobu Noda line) it's a 20-minute walk.
Address: Saitama, Saitama City, Omiya, Takahana-cho 1-407
Chichibu shrine, located in an urban area, is the sochinju, or the place where several local deities from the Chichibu region are enshrined, making this old shrine one of the most well known in the Kanto area with its long and distinguished history. Along with Hodosan shrine and Mitsumine shrine, it is referred to as Chichibu sansha. Inside the grounds there is an impressive sculpture called "Hokushin no Fukuro" (North Star Owl) and is considered to be a power spot (a place thought to be flowing with mystical energy).
The closest station is Chichibu station (Chichibu Railway Chichibu Main line). From the station it's a 3-minute walk. Also from Seibu Chichibu station (Seibu Railway Seibu Chichibu line) it's 15 minutes on foot.
Address: Saitama, Chichibu city, Banbamachi 1-3
Sitting at an altitude of 1102 meters, it is thought to be one of the shrines closest to the gods and is also known as one of the foremost power spots in the Kanto area. Standing on both sides of the stone steps that overlook the front shrine, are two tall cedar trees that look as though they were planted in order to unite into one tree. If you touch one of these sacred trees of marriage, perhaps some good luck might just come your way!
The nearest station is Mitsumineguchi station on the Chichibu Railway line. From here hop on board a Seibu bus. Or from Seibu Chichibu station (Seibu Railway) get on a Kyuko bus headed for Mitsumine Jinja. Either way, it takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes by bus.
Address: Saitama, Chichibu City, Mitsumine 298-1
Hodosan shrine is situated at the foot of Hodosan mountain and every year attracts about one million worshippers. Along with Mitsumine shrine and Chichibu shrine it is considered to be one of three shrines that have mystical power and energy. The energy of Hodosan shrine is thought to be somewhere in the middle between the strong energy of Mitsumine shrine and the gentle energy of Chichibu shrine.
The nearest station is Nagatoro station on the Chichibu Railway. From the station it's 10 minutes on foot.
Address: Saitama, Nagatoro, Nagatoro-machi 1828
Kawagoe Hachimangu was founded by the samurai Yorinobu Minamoto. Not to be outdone by Kawagoe Hikawa shrine, Kawagoe Hachimangu is also said to possess matchmaking powers symbolized by the meotoicho, or husband-and-wife-gingko tree that stands nearby.
The nearest station is Kawagoe station (Tobu Tojo line, JR Saikyo line and Yurakucho line). From the station it's 6 minutes on foot. From Honkawagoe station (Seibu Shinjuku line) it's a 7-minute walk.
Address: Saitama, Kawagoe City, Minamitorimachi 19-3
Kawagoedaishi Kitain temple, which has many buildings designated as important cultural properties by the Japanese government, is the head Tendai sect temple in the Kanto area. Its history dates back some 1,200 years. Throughout the year many rites and festivals are held here and perhaps the most famous is the Daruma festival held on January 3rd.
The closest station is Kawagoe station (Seibu Tojo line). From here it's about 20 minutes on foot to the temple. Also, you can get to the temple from the Honkawagoe station (Seibu Shinjuku line) taking just 15 minutes on foot.
Address: Saitama, Kawagoe city, Kosemba-machi 1-20-1
Also sometimes called Tsukinomiya-sama, Tsuki Jinja is a shrine loved by all the local people. "Tsuki", the name of this shrine, has the same sound as "moon" in Japanese, so the god of the moon joined with its messenger the rabbit, which explains why instead of guardian lion-dogs which are found at most Shinto shrines, there are stone rabbits on watch.
The closest station is Urawa station (JR East Keihin Tohoku line, Utsunomiya line and Takasaki line). From the station's west exit it's 10 minutes on foot.
Address: Saitama, Saitama city, Urawa, Kishicho 3-17-25
In Saitama prefecture there's a wide variety of places to stay; modern, large-scale city hotels, resort hotels, hot spring hotels and Japanese-style traditional inns just to name a few. With many places matching your desired destination, your budget and accommodation style, you'll have plenty of choices at your disposal. To go along with these choices we're adding seven of our own recommendations, each highlighted with some unique points worth considering, which will definitely make you excited about your travel plans.
1. You can stay at a historic Japanese private residence that's been renovated.
2. You have the chance to meet a real sumo wrestler (retired).
3. At certain times of the year (excluding summer) you can enjoy a variety of dishes cooked at an irori, or open fireplace, including chanko nabe, a special stew traditionally eaten by sumo wrestlers but recently gaining popularity among mainstream consumers.
1. In the Chichibu area, one of the oldest wadokosen medicinal baths where you can ease your tired body and cure what ails you.
2. You can enjoy delicious specialty cuisine prepared with the freshest of ingredients from the local mountains and streams.
3. You can spend the night in one of our newly renovated clean and comfortable rooms.
1. You can have your own private bath at this retro-style hot spring inn, that's been in operation since the Meiji era.
2. While staying here you can choose your own yukata to wear.
3. You might have an opportunity to see a kabuki play performed by the citizens of Ogano town.
1. You can enjoy golf and tennis, and in the summer there's a swimming pool.
2. In addition to a regular hot spring, the communal outdoor hot spring is suitable for those wearing bathing suits.
3. Services are provided in English and also Chinese.
1. You can see Mount Fuji (world heritage site) from the restaurants on the hotel's upper floors.
2. You can enjoy a variety of food and drinks in the hotel's eating establishments and bar.
3. Close to Omiya station, and from Tokyo there is easy access to other sightseeing spots as well.
1. There's a fitness club with a pool and sauna, and a beauty salon so you can take a break and relax here.
2. It's located right next to the terminal station in a business-commercial district, convenient for both shopping and sightseeing.
3. Just 3 minutes on foot from Omiya station where you can take a Haneda airport and Narita airport limousine bus.
1. This is an inn with its own natural hot springs, located in the Chichibu / Nagatoro sightseeing region.
2. There are nature tours arranged exclusively for hotel guests.
3. There are 6 hour and 10 hour plans for those making a one day trip here.
One of the highlights of any trip is being able to sample the cuisine exclusive to that particular area. Before venturing to Saitama prefecture let's take a look at what kind of gourmet dishes they have to offer.
As you stare at Saitama's specialty udon, you can't help wondering, "Are these noodles?". The brainchild and inspiration for this dish came from Saitama prefecture's Arakawa river. Reportedly Japan's widest river, it inspired some locals to create these noodles which are 8 cm in width!
Both Urawa city and Kawagoe city are famous in Japan for unagi, or eel. Once you experience the soft and fluffy texture of the unagi dipped into a salty-sweet sauce, you'll be instantly spellbound!
When someone mentions the word fish in landlocked Saitama prefecture, ayu, a river fish naturally comes to mind. Found in the natural wilderness of Saitama's mountainous region, dishes made with fresh ayu are famous.
If you come to Japan, one food you should try at least once is soba, or buckwheat noodles. And if you make a trip to the Chichibu region then definitely try some authentic soba called Chichibu soba with its hand-made noodles.
Niboto udon is the local cuisine in the Fukaya area. It's a delicious dish characterized by thick, wide noodles and freshly picked vegetables.
Koshigaya city's young business people came up with this dish as a way to promote the city. The Imperial Household Agency maintains one of their Imperial Wild Duck Preserves in Koshigaya.
Mention Saitama prefecture and many people will think of Soka senbei, or rice crackers. Soka city is known as the starting point for these tasty Japanese treats. By all means take in the tantalizing aroma and eat one of these delicious rice crackers!
Japan is a shopper's paradise. Saitama also has many shopping spots that we'd like to recommend to you.
To get to the outlet shopping center in Iruma city, it's 15 minutes by bus from Iruma City station. Here's your chance to get brand-name goods from both within and outside Japan, all at reasonable prices.
Homepage: Mitsui Outlet Park, Iruma
Address: Saitama, Iruma city, Miyadera 3169-1
Cocoon City is a shopping mall located just 3 minutes on foot from Saitama-Shintoshin station. Inside the mall are popular shops including Ito Yokado, Yodobashi Camera and Uniqlo.
Homepage: COCOON CITY (Japanese only)
Address: Saitama, Saitama city, Omiya, Kishikicho 4-263-1
Lumine Omiya is a shopping center with direct access to Omiya station. For fashion-conscious shoppers in their late twenties to thirties, there is an ideal selection of goods here.
Homepage: LUMINE Omiya
Address: Saitama, Saitama city, Omiya, Nishikicho 630
This is a large-scale shopping mall located only 3 minutes on foot from the west exit of Shinmisato station (Musashino line). Also next door there is IKEA and Costco, and a free loop-line bus can whisk you off to wherever you'd like to go. Here you can enjoy an entire day of shopping.
Homepage: Mitsui Shopping Park Lalaport-Shinmisato
Address: Saitama, Misato city, Shinmisato LaLa city 3-1-1
Saitama prefecture has another large-scale shopping center called Mitsui Shopping Park Lalaport-Fujimi, which has a staggering 300 shops inside.
It's only 6 minutes on foot from the Tobu-Tojo line's Tsuruse station.
Homepage: Mitsui Shopping Park Lalaport-Fujimi
Address: Saitama, Fujimi city, Yamamuro 1-1313
Just 3 minutes on foot from Omiya station (JR Tobu-Noda line) and on the second floor of Omiya Sonic City is SOPIA.
Homepage: Saitama Prefecture Products and Tourism-SOPIA (Japanese only)
Address: Saitama, Saitama city, Omiya, Sakuragi-cho 1-7-5 Sonic City Building 2F
The climate in Saitama differs greatly between the predominately flat terrain of the prefecture's eastern region and the mountainous western region.
Let's take a look at the seasonal changes in weather in both areas.
In the springtime, the climate is easily influenced by the atmospheric pressure resulting in drastic temperature differences. During your travels here it's a good idea to have at least one thick coat or garment in order to deal with these temperature swings. In the summertime the eastern region of Saitama is extremely hot and humid. In order to stay cool during this hot season, it's recommended that you wear loose-fitting, light clothes. Always be sure to drink plenty of liquids and try to avoid the direct sunlight by wearing a hat and or sunglasses.
In the fall season the heat will begin to ease up and the climate will become more comfortable, but it's also the time when precipitation increases. This region has many rivers so when enjoying outdoor activities be cautious about rising river levels and flooding. When fall deepens, the temperature also drops, so you'll probably need thicker clothes.
In the winter a northwesterly wind starts to blow across the region, and as a result there will be many days in which it feels much colder than the actual temperature. To keep warm during this season try to wear clothes that will shield you from the wind and cold.
In the springtime, the mountainous western region still has low temperatures. Until early April it's best to think of the climate as an extension of winter and it's a good idea to have thick, warm clothing with you. When summer arrives the temperature goes up but the mornings and evenings tend to be cool so you'll need some outerwear. Compared to the eastern region, the days in the western region generally have low humidity, and the shaded areas will be fairly cool.
Just like in the summer, mornings and evenings in the fall tend to be cool. The difference in the daytime and the morning/evening temperatures is extreme so be sure to have warm clothing to ward off the cold. Winters in the western region are particularly harsh, so it's absolutely essential to have proper winter clothing with you. Make sure you have a warm down jacket, gloves and a scarf.
The article below will show how much the food costs in Japan, so take a look when planning your budget.
If you need to exchange currencies, go to the bank, or try the ATM at 7-Eleven.
If you're short on cash, look for the ATM with the "PLUS" logo, which offers cash advance with credit cards.
The article below will show the simple phrases you can use when checking into hotels.
"Japan Connected-Free Wi-Fi" is a service for the visitors from abroad. Be sure to download the application in advance.
There is so much to see, do, and eat in Saitama that it can't easily be covered in just one guide. Take a look through the many articles we have linked here, and hopefully you will find yet another reason to enjoy this fun prefecture!