Saitama Prefecture 埼玉県
Things to see and do in Saitama Prefecture
Saitama Prefecture has a bad rap as "dasaitama" ("dasai" meaning "unfashionable" in Japanese), being the blue collar precincts of northern Tokyo; but there is much to see and do here for day-trippers from the capital, including fascinating and historic temples and shrines in Kawagoe, challenging mountains in Chichibu, quirky museums, tranquil tea fields in Sayama and picturesque hiking courses.
Kawagoe, 40 km north of Tokyo is an historic castle town noted for its kurazukuri - two-storey wooden merchants' houses some of which have been turned into interesting museums. These historic and picturesque buildings are conveniently grouped to the north of Kawagoe Station.
The Railway Museum, which opened in 2007, is extremely popular and fast becoming Saitama Prefecture's number one must-see place after the closure of the John Lennon Museum.
The Kita-in Temple north-east of Kawagoe Station dates from the 9th century and contains the only surviving structures (an annex palace) from the original Edo Castle in Tokyo as well as 500 statues of the rakan (arhats), early disciples to Buddha who attained perfect enlightenment. Kita-in Temple is also known for its famous daruma festival held annually on January 3rd.
Kawagoe's main matsuri held in October is also one of the Tokyo region's most lively festivals with a parade of floats and costumed participants.
Misotsuchi no Tsurara - is a frozen waterfall on the Arakawa River below Mount Buko in the Chichibu region that is illuminated in January and February and draws the crowds along with nearby Otaki Onsen
Chichibu is a city in the center of mountainous western Saitama Prefecture. Today, the administrative area of Chichibu city stretches out all the way to the borders of western Tokyo (Okutama) and Yamanashi, Nagano and Gunma prefectures.
Mount Dodaira has lovely night views of the lights of Tokyo on clear days.
Hanno city is a mecca for Tokyoites seeking a summer BBQ on the wooded banks of its river.
Heirinji Temple is a practicing Zen temple famous for its plum blossoms and fall colors.
The area around Mount Hiwada in Saitama contains the largest Cluster Amaryllis (higanbana) fields in Japan.
Johnson Town in Iruma is an enclave of carefully restored American suburban buildings dating back to the early 1950's.
The Kasukabe Underground Flood Protection Tank aka the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel has been designed as the central flood protection facility for eastern Saitama Prefecture and parts of north east Tokyo, namely, the Adachi, Katsushika and Edogawa wards.
Koma Shrine and Shoden-in Temple are located in the forbidding, wooded mountains of western Saitama Prefecture.
Nagatoro - shooting the rapids on the Arakawa River, boats from Oyahana-bashi near Kami-Nagatoro station; Saitama Stadium is the largest soccer-specific stadium in Japan and home to Urawa Reds - a J-League soccer team with the most fervent and occasionally controversial football fans in Japan.
Ogawa in Chichibu is famous for its traditional washi-paper making.
John Lennon Museum in the superb Saitama Arena (Shintoshin Station); The John Lennon Museum has now closed its doors.
The tea fields in Sayama, Tokorozawa, produce one of the northern-most teas grown in Japan.
Tokorozawa Aviation Museum in Tokorozawa is where the first Japanese airstrip was opened in April 1911. The first flight here took place within the same month, a French-made Henri Farman went up piloted by Yoshitoshi Tokugawa.
Wadokuroya was the 8th century home of a copper mine that produced the first coins in Japan in the Nara Period.
Access - Getting to Saitama Prefecture
There are various ways to get to Saitama Prefecture from various places in Tokyo.
From Tokyo 50 minutes via Namboku subway line to Urawa-Misono Station on the Saitama Railway Line and then a 15 minute walk to Saitama Stadium in Urawa.
Takasaki/Utsunomiya Line from Ueno to Shintoshin Station to get to the Saitama Arena or the Saikyo Line from Shinjuku to Kiya-yono Station.