Introducing Saitama: Where wonder awaits you only an hour away from Tokyo! (Complete with free 20p pamphlet!)

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Written by Editorial department

Scroll down to learn more about the fantastic sightseeing spots Saitama Prefecture has to offer.

Saitama Prefecture borders Tokyo on the north, making access between the two a breeze. For example, if you wish to experience Edo Japan, you may decide to go to Kawagoe, only 46 minutes away via the Seibu Shinjuku Line's limited express train from Seibu Shinjuku Station, or 47 minutes by express from Ikebukuro Station via the Tobu Tojo Line.

There are also a number of highway busses at your disposal from both Narita and Haneda Airports.

Despite being neighbours, there are many things to see and do in Saitama that you won't find in Tokyo. Aside from the famous Kawagoe area, Saitama is also home to Chichibu’s Shibazakura Hill (Moss Pink Hill), the Nagatoro River (popular for Japanese boat and rafting tours), and much much more! To make things easier for you, our editorial staff has taken the liberty of compiling a list of their favourite spots below.

▼Kawagoe's traditional Koedo townscapes

Take in the history and culture of the area as you stroll through Old Japan gazing around in awe. The well-preserved storehouse merchant houses and castle towns will send you back to a simpler time. You’ll even find restaurants and souvenir shops left and right.

▼Hill of ground pink

Overlooking Chichibu City, you’ll find sheep mountain Park’s famous Moss Pink Hill. Over 9 varieties of shibazakura, which literally translates to "lawn cherry blossoms," spread over the rolling hills like a grand carpet of pink, white, light blue, and purple. It's truly one of nature's masterpieces. Peak viewing season is from mid-April to early May, but it’s also an ideal spot to view the picturesque Mt. Bukou, a symbol of Chichibu, at any time of year.

Address:6360, Omiya, Chichibu-shi, Saitama (sheep mountain Park)
Open:8:00-17:00
Admission fee:General ¥300
Access:20-minute walk from Seibu Chichibu Station on the Seibu Chichibu Line.

▼The Nagatoro River

Nagatoro, famous nationwide, is a perfect representative of the best of Saitama's scenic beauty. It’s perhaps best known for its boat excursions down the Arakawa River, from which you can view the Iwadatami rocks that line the river as well as the waterfalls that flow into it. Depending on the course you choose, you may even be able to walk along the cliffs.

Address:489-2 Nagatoro, Nagatoro-machi, Chichibu-gun, Saitama (Nagatoro White Water Rafting Sales Office)
Open:9:00-16:00(※Cancellations may occur due to weather and river conditions.)
Fee:<A course>¥1,600 ~ (Approx. 20 minutes)
Access:1-minute walk from Nagatoro Station on the Chichibu Railway Line.

▼Ounochi Valley

One of Saitama’s best kept secrets! Mt. Ryoukami, the source of the Ounochi Valley, has something different to offer every season. Fresh greenery in the spring, cool breezes in the summer, colourful leaves in the fall, and exquisite icicles in the winter. You should have more than enough opportunities to snap some brag-worthy photos as you explore this natural wonderland.

Address:996-1 Kawarasawa, Ogano-machi, Chichibu-gun, Saitama
Admission fee:¥200 (during icicle season)
Access:Take bus from Chichibu Station to Ogano Yakuba (town hall), transfer to bus headed for Sakamoto and get off at Onouchi Keikoku Iriguchi. Walk for an additional 20 minutes.

▼Ushijima Wisteria Gardens

Known worldwide for its 1,200-year-old wisteria tree, that has been designated a natural monument of Japan, this is a spot you won't want to miss. Its flowers are in full bloom from late April to early May, with some reaching an impressive 2 meters in length! Come and admire the beauty of their violet strands flowing in the wind as you breathe in their intoxicating fragrance.

Address:786 Ushijima, Kasukabe City, Saitama (Wisteria Gardens)
Admission fee:(Adult)¥1,000, (Kid)¥500
Access:10-minute walk from Fujino-Ushijima Station on the Tobu Noda Line.

▼The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, Saitama

The art of bonsai has seen a worldwide increase in popularity in recent years. This museum will serve as a sub-venue of the 8th World Bonsai Convention in 2017—an event that will unite enthusiasts from all over the world. Not only does it introduce elements essential to bonsai culture, such as bonki (bonsai pots), suiseki-stones, and historical materials, but its bonsai garden is simply captivating.

Address:2-24-3 Toro-cho, Kita Ward, Saitama City, Saitama
Open:(March-October)9:00-16:30 , (November-February)9:00-16:00 during *Last admission 30 minutes before closing
Closed:Thursday (except for National Holiday), Year-end and New Year holidays ,Temporary close during exhibition preparation.
Admission fee:¥300
Access:
5 minutes walk from the East Exit of Toro station on the JR Utsunomiya line.
10 minutes walk from Omiya Kouen station on the Tobu Urban park line.

▼Railway Museum

This spacious museum is home to a wealth of information on both trains from Japan and the rest of the world. It includes an impressive display of about 36 full-size train cars and engines for you to observe up close. With numerous operation simulators, reconstructed scenery, and more, you don't need to be a railway fanatic to enjoy yourself here!

Address:3-47 Onari-cho, Omiya-ku, Saitama City, Saitama
Open:10:00-18:00 (last admission 17:30)
Closed:Every Tuesday and the New Year's holidays ※During long school holidays museum may be closed to the public at certain times.
Admission fee:(Adult)¥1,000
Access:One-minute walk from New Shuttle"Tetsudo-Hakubutsukan Station"

This article only scratches the surface of the many wonderful things you can see and do in Saitama. Scenic views, historical buildings, festivals, eateries—the list goes on! For more in-depth details, you can check out the new Saitama sightseeing pamphlet which will be available from March 23rd, 2016. Twenty full pages of information in English for free, what more could you want?

This pamphlet can be obtained from any of the following 3 locations. Come and grab yours before they run out!

①Haneda Airport Tourist Information Center
Location: Haneda Airport International Terminal

②Saitama Antenna Shop - Natural Lawson Tokyo Nihonbashi 1-chome
Address:1-7-9 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

③Saitama Antenna Shop - Natural Lawson Shinjuku Station West
Address:1-13-12 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo