functions with 18 national government agencies - Town architecture
with the 19th century buildings and many traditional performing arts
Saitama is an inland prefecture at the center of the Kanto Region
to the north of Tokyo. Historically, it was part of Musashi-no-kuni
with most of the areas in contemporary Tokyo. It became the major
supplier of food to the metropolitan Tokyo from the 17th century, and
has long maintained close relationship with Tokyo. All areas of the
prefecture are within 100 km from Tokyo, and its geographical location
is advantageous in business, living and cultural events. In May 2000,
a futuristic city, the Saitama New Urban Center, was developed over 3
cities namely Urawa, Yono and Omiya, where 18 national administration
agencies were transferred. Saitama continues to develop into part of
the national capital region.
Saitama celebrates Chichibu Yomatsuri night Festival where 6 floats
mounted with a decorative halberd march with lively and soul-stirring
Chichibu Yatai-Hayashi music. This is one of the three major float
parades in Japan along with the famous Gion-matsuri Festival in Kyoto.
There is also the Saibara-Kagura Festival at the Washinomiya-jinjya
Shrine, which is designated as an important intangible folk cultural
property, as well as many other historical performing arts of public
entertainment. Other must-see scenic sights include Nagatoro with
breathtaking precipices, Kuroyama-santaki Falls(Mt. Kuroyama Three
Falls) in a solemn atmosphere, and a castle town Kawagoe where you can
enjoy a classic long bonneted bus tour through the 19th century
buildings and streets lined with traditional stuccoed storehouses.
Thirty-eight minutes from Tokyo Station to Urawa Station by JR
Chichibu and Nagatoro
Chichibu, a historic town embraced by mountains - Nagatoro,
beautiful rock beds and precipitous cliffs
Located within the Chichibu-Tama National Park in the western
Saitama, Chichibu City has developed as the trading center for silk
fabrics around the Chichibu-jinja Shrine. The Chichibu-jinja Shrine
is said to have built more than 2,000 years ago. At the Chichibu
Yomatsuri night Festival held every winter here, light from numerous
lanterns hung from the floats and thousands of firework displays
cast beautiful colors to the night sky. Chichibu 34 Kan'non
Sanctuary is one of the 100 sacred kannon temples in Japan, and the
pilgrimage path is 100 km long from the 1st Simabu-ji Temple to the
34th Suisen-ji Temple.
The entire town of Nagatoro at the north of Chichibu is designated
as a prefectural nature park, and the Ara-kawa River runs through
the center of the town. There is a natural monument, 5 km-long rock
bedded bank along the river near the railway station, which is a
precious material in learning the earliest history of the earth. You
can directly appreciate the beauty of the gorge of Nagatoro by a
riverboat. A boatman steers a small boat with a pole and takes you
downstream in the Ara-kawa River with varying rapid and slow
currents. You can enjoy the views of the rock beds and precipitous
cliffs called Chichibu-Sekiheki, or red walls of Chichibu.
Take by JR Yamanote Line for 24 minutes from Tokyo Station to
Ikebukuro Station. Then transfer to Seibu Line for 1 hour and 23
minutes from Ikebukuro Station to Seibu-Chichibu Station. It takes
20 minutes from Seibu-Chichibu Station to Nagatoro Station.
Integrated historical sites, parks and nature - Rare row of ancient
Gyoda City is located in the north Saitama. It developed as a
castle town of the Oshi Castle built in 1490. There remain 9 large
size ancient tombs built before the 7th century around the pastoral
Sakitama Fudoki-no-oka Hill is a vast historic park with the area of
300,000 mē dotted with large size ancient tombs including a tomb of
ancient potentates Mt. Maruhaka-yama, one of the largest round
burial mounds in Japan. At Mt. Shogun-yama, a 91-meter long burial
mound that is square at the head and rounded at the foot, there is a
display room of its interior where the stone cave hut and excavated
articles are restored to their original conditions in the 5th to 7th
centuries. Every spring, they celebrate a fire festival which
symbolizes the myth that the ancient goddess of Japan gave births in
The traditional industry of Gyoda is production of tabi socks that
are indispensable in the kimono culture of Japan, and its share in
the market is nearly 50%. You can learn the details of the history
and culture of Gyoda at the Gyoda City provincial museum, where
there is the exhibition on the everyday life of the castle town in
the olden days and the tabi making process with actual materials and
Take JR Yamanote Line for 8 minutes from Tokyo Station to Ueno
Station. Then transfer to JR Takasaki Line for 1 hour and 6 minutes
from Ueno Station to Gyoda Station.
The 700 cherry trees of Iwatsuki Castle grounds bloom in spring -
City of dolls since the 17th century
Iwatsuki is located approximately at the center of the Kanto
Plain. It prospered not only as the castle town around Iwatsuki
Castle, but also as a post town on the Nikko-Kaido Road(a road from
Edo, the former Tokyo to Nikko). The castle grounds have been
converted into Iwatsuki-koen Park. The spring season is beautiful
when the 700 cherry trees bloom around Shobu-ike Pond, or the iris
pond, especially viewed from Yatsuhashi Bridge with its red
parapets, and crowds of people come to enjoy the cherry blossoms.
Toki-no-Kane, or the "Time-keeping Bell", which still rings twice a
day, reminds us of the old days as a castle town.
Doll-making started around the 17th century in Iwatsuki and became
famous with the production of Hina-ningyo dolls for the girls'
celebrations in March and Gogatsu-ningyo dolls for the boys'
celebrations in May.
From dolls made 300 years ago during the Edo Period up to
contemporary ones, samurai dolls with fierce expressions,
Gogatsu-ningyo wearing armor, karakuri-ningyo mechanical dolls and
antique dolls from abroad are all exhibited in Iwatsuki Ningyo
Hakubutsukan (doll museum). At the workshop adjacent to the museum,
visitors can watch doll-making or even try out making one
From Tokyo Station, 47 minutes by JR Keihin-tohoku Line to Omiya
Station. From Omiya Station, 15 minutes by Tobu Noda Line to
Simple traditional sweets - City called "Little Edo" with rows of
Located in the center of Saitama, Kawagoe City flourished as a
castle town in the Edo period (1603 -1867). It is designated as an
important preservation districts for groups of historic buildings
where rows of magnificent merchants' houses in a historical stuccoed
storehouse style stand side by side. It is called Koedo, or "Little
Edo", because of its city architecture. The feudal lord of the
Kawagoe-jo Castle ordered to build a bell tolling the time in the
17th century. The bell has been rebuilt several times, and the
present 4th generation bell is a symbol of Kawagoe together with the
streets lined with traditional storehouses.
The area around Saiwai-cho, Moto-machi and Naka-machi with the
Ichibangai or the first street at the center is one of the oldest
towns in the Kanto Region, where houses including a mansion of
draper, Osawa family and other palatial houses remain. Kitain Temple
boasts Kyakuden, a reception hall and Sho-in, a study hall, both of
which are important cultural properties, and you can also see
Gohyakurakan(Five hundred rakans), Buddhist images modeled after 500
Another specialty of Kawagoe is Kshiya-yokocho, a confectionary
lane. It is 5 minutes walk from Fudanotsuji bus stop. Shops of
Japanese candies, sweet potato cakes, rice crackers and other snacks
stand in a row on both sides of a stone-paved lane. Their simple,
nostalgic taste will satisfy both your tongue and heart. The
Kawagoe-matsuri Festival celebrated in autumn is one of best three
festivals in Kanto region. You will see exquisitely decorated
7-meter tall floats parading the city.
Take JR Yamanote Line for 24 minutes from Tokyo Station to
Ikebukuro Station, and transfer to Tobu Line express for 33 minutes
from Ikebukuro Station to Kawagoe Station.
Saitama New Urban
Pleasant harmony of the past and future - The newest downtown of
Saitama New Urban Center (Saitama Shin-toshin) that spans Urawa,
Yono and Omiya Cities at the southeast Saitama celebrated its birth
on May 5, 2000 at the site where a switchyard of the former Japan
National Railway once stood. It is the core area for the
administration and culture of Saitama in the 21st century.
Saitama New Urban City area is a megalopolis that houses national
government agencies, Saitama Super Arena, restaurants and shopping
streets where 57,000 people are employed. Curved white tube-like
roofs welcomes you when you get out of the station. Boardwalks with
no steps link all corners of downtown. Unique statues stand here and
there, giving off the futuristic atmosphere. Among those
ultra-modern structures, the greenery of 220 zelkova trees heal your
eyes in the Keyaki-hiroba Park created especially to convey the
image of a copse of the Musashi-no Plain, which once covered the
entire Kanto Region.
Saitama Super Arena can transform itself from a hall with a capacity
of 5,000 to a stadium for 37,000 spectators with the world largest
moving blocks. On the 4th and 5th floors, the world first John
Lennon Museum opened in October 2000 attracting worldwide attention.
Forty-four minutes from Tokyo Station to Saitama Shintoshin Station
by JR Keihintohoku Line.