Saitama Prefecture is a land rich with popular tourist attractions, but there are also many little-known spots that only the locals can tell you about. We think that if you divide the whole of Saitama into 3 areas and grasp it that way, then you can get a new perspective on the popular spots that you already know, and an overflowing curiosity at these new discoveries. Please do check the following places out, won’t you?
1. Enjoying Beautiful Valley Scenery In Northwest Saitama
The Northwestern part of Saitama Prefecture is surrounded by the Jobu and Outer Chichibu mountainous areas, with the Arakawa and Kannagawa rivers flowing through. Chichibu and Nagatoro are the most popular areas around this part, but the town of Yorii-machi in the Osato area also has its own wonderful charm. Nagatoro has the Arakawa valley, boasting a picturesque scenery since ancient times, while Yorii-machi is the home of the Tamayodo riverbed, known as the place where the Houjou and Suitengu festivals are held.
The Tamayodo riverbed is wonderful in that it is surrounded by a steep valley foundation running along side the Arakawa river, which gives it a special beautiful valley scenery. Furthermore, it is also a historically important place, as the land of Hachigata Castle, one of the 100 Great Castles of Japan, and a military chokepoint in the past. Going by the Tobu Tojo Line through Tamayodo Station, it is only 1 hour 30 minutes away from the metropolitan Ikebukuro area.
2. Exploring the North Saitama Waterside
The North Saitama area is surrounded by the magnificient Tone river, and is also a tourist attraction of many historical towns such as Kumagaya and Gyoda. Gyoda was once a wealthy castle town ruled by the Oshihan domain, with a long history comparable to Kawagoe. However, for a little-known spot, we would like to recommend the Tone Great Dam. 154 kilometers away from the Tone river’s mouth, with a great view of the Fuji and Tsukuba Mountains from the embankment, which makes it a popular cycling spot. As this is a popular sightseing spot often chosen by Saitama schools, it is a place of much nostalgia for local adults. At the dam there is an observation room of fish ladders, the path taken by schools of fish swimming, and from Autumn to Winter it is possible to see salmon swimming upstream here. We also recommend renting a bike from the cycling center nearby, and take a tour of the historical canals, the Minumadai and Kasai water cisterns.
3. A View Of The Countryside From Kawagoe
When people talk about Kanagoe in the context of Saitama tourism, many would draw their attention to the inner city. And while the streets lined with earthen storehouses and the remains of Kawagoe Castle are important historical and cultural heritages, the suburban of Kawagoe also has its own hidden charm. When you go eastwards from the metropolitan center of Kanagoe City, you will encounter a great swampland by the name of the Isa Swamp, a countryside scenery that is completely different from that of Kanagoe City. The Isa Swamp has a long history reaching until medieval times, however its current surface area is only half of what it used to be. But even though it has shrunk, it is still one of the widest natural swamps in Japan, and is beloved for its cherry blossoms come spring. In the summer a firework festival is held once every 2 years in the Isa swamp, so if you have the time, do make some room in your schedule and come check it out.
Did you enjoy our little trip? Saitama is very convenient to travel to from the central cities, so please do visit sometime, and see for yourself what only Saitama has to offer.
This post is also available in: Japanese