Four Interesting Saitama Sights

by Luke

Looking to take a trip from Tokyo? We recommend the short journey to Saitama, a place packed full of nature, mountains, and some rather interesting museums. Learn all about the traditional art of bonsai in Omiya, or head to the mountains and enjoy a sea of flowers. Here are our top for picks:

Nagatoro

Four Interesting Saitama Sights

(image by flickr.com)

Nagatoro is famous as a longtime tourist destination within Saitama Prefecture. Along with it being a popular spot for every season, there are plenty of things to enjoy throughout the year such as the temples and shrines and a steam engine. Spring is the season of cherry blossoms, and in Nagatoro, which has been selected as one of “Japan’s Top 100 Places for Cherry Blossoms”, there are about 3000 cherry trees planted there with 3 good times to visit.

The first time is late March with the Ohte-no-Sakura cherry tree which is a 100-year-old weeping cherry tree whose width goes up to 16 meters making it a local natural monument. The second time is early April on Kita Sakura-dori where a tunnel of 600 cherry trees runs for 2.5 km from Nagatoro Station to Higuchi Station two stations away. And the third time is from mid-April to late April with the cherry trees on the side streets. 500 trees of 31 different species of double-flowered cherries can be enjoyed and during the season, there is also evening illumination. In the summer, river activities are synonymous with the season. Rafting down the rapids, cruising down the river and people of all ages enjoying river activities, you can fully enjoy Mother Nature while viewing the sedimentary rock for 1 kilometer that has been recognized as a National Natural Monument. Then there is autumn which is famous for its colors. The trees across from the sedimentary rock provide a natural beauty of color with their reds and golds. Also, seven flowers of autumn are each planted at 7 different temples so that The Seven-Flower Temples Tour in which all of the temples are seen has been considered a secret hit with the tourists.

Winter is the season for hatsumode at Hodosan (Treasure Trove Climb) Shrine. The name is said to have originated from the phrase “Climb the treasure trove”, and many visitors come since the history of the hatsumode there has been good. As well, going up to the peak of Mt. Hodo by ropeway, you will be greeted by colorful flowers, and from the peak, you can get a panoramic view of Chichibu. Recently, pamphlets in foreign languages and Wi-Fi have been provided, and the area has become a spot that can be toured easily by foreign tourists.

Admission: Free 

Guidebook from Planetyze about Nagatoro
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Nagatoro
Tours of Nagatoro

Hitsujiyama Park

Four Interesting Saitama Sights

(image by flickr.com)

Hitsujiyama Park is located at the base of Mt. Bukoh of Chichibu City in the back of Saitama Prefecture. The north and south sides of the park are known as Misubarashi Hill and Shibazakura Hill respectively. The planting of moss phlox began in the year 2000, and with the number of flowers growing each year, even the mass media has started to pay attention. In 2014, 570,000 people visited the site which has become the tourist spot for Chichibu in spring. Moss phlox (shibazakura) is a perennial which originally came from North America. Its blossoms resemble those of the cherry (sakura) but spread across the ground like grass (shiba) which gives it its Japanese name. Since the colors, which can range through dark & light pink, white, violet and blue, and shape of the petals differ, there are many ways to enjoy view the flowers whether looking at them one-by-one up close or admiring the pink carpet from a distance. The peak time of mid-April to mid-May is also the time of the Shibazakura Festival where many people enjoy the specialty products of Chichibu and comfort food such as miso potatoes being sold.

Hitsujiyama Park is famous for its moss phlox, but it is also the most famous spot in Chichibu for its cherry blossoms. About 1000 cherry trees of different species compete for beauty in the park. Misubarashi Hill where the cherries are planted doesn’t try to shut out the blue sky but uses the contrast between it and the cherry blossoms to symbolize a Japanese spring. Hitsujiyama (Sheep Mountain) was named after the fact that the area once had Saitama Prefecture’s sheep breeding farms. Even now within the park, there is a petting farm which has sheep, and elsewhere there is the Wanpaku Plaza for the athletically-minded, along with the Mt. Bukoh Museum and a museum showing the works of Shiko Munakata.

More information

Admission: Free 

Guidebook from Planetyze about Hitsujiyama Park
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hitsujiyama Park
Tours of Hitsujiyama Park

Omiya Bonsai Art Museum

Four Interesting Saitama Sights

(image by flickr.com)

Bonsai involves growing plants in small containers and having their branches and leaves shaped to express nature. Brought over from China in the Heian Era, it became actively enjoyed in the Edo Era. Bonsai, which takes time and effort, is known as a hobby for people like the elderly, but for the past several years, it has also received attention overseas and bonsai culture has been rising in popularity. In addition, it has also become a cute statement in terms of interior design starting from the small pots, and in recent years, it has become a hit with young women.

The Bonsai Art Museum began displaying bonsai from its opening in 2010. Omiya has a Bonsai Village, and so the museum was established by the village. Aside from a display of bonsai, the museum also provides a plethora of information pertaining to the art such as displays of the pots and stones used for the art, paintings such as ukiyo-e which have depicted bonsai, and historical information related to bonsai.

Furthermore, in the large bonsai garden that is in the museum, pine that is a staple for bonsai is displayed through approximately 50 exhibits, shaped into trees such as maple. The time spent leisurely viewing the bonsai from Azumaya in the center of the garden and getting a sense of nature is one of the charms of this Japanese traditional culture. How about starting your knowledge of bonsai from this occasion? As well, around the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, there are 9 bonsai gardens in operation which make up the Bonsai Village. If you have become interested in bonsai after a visit to the museum, then it would be great to visit these gardens by all means. 

Admission: Adult: ¥ 300 / Child: ¥ 100 

Guidebook from Planetyze about Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
Tours of Omiya Bonsai Art Museum

The Railway Museum

Four Interesting Saitama Sights

(image by flickr.com)

The Railway Museum is famous for its excellent permanent display. The main exhibition is in the History Zone which makes up about half of the entire museum. There is an atrium up to the 3rd floor where 36 of Japan’s railway trains are displayed in chronological order. There are steam locomotives and Bullet Trains, and from April 2015, prewar electric engines have also made an appearance. An even greater feeling for the trains of that time can be felt with the recreation of features from those days such as platforms and schedule boards. You can sightsee from inside the trains, look down on the trains from above and see them from various angles through the passage of time. In the Entrance Zone on the 2nd floor, there is the huge railroad diorama that is said to be the largest in Japan. You can get a full view of stations, bridges, tunnels and other railway fixtures along with up to 20 trains in operation. In the commentaries that occur 8 times a day for 10 minutes each, the lighting is adjusted so that you can see the diorama through a day’s morning, afternoon and night.

There are 2 rides that require numbered tickets. The D51 steam engine driving simulator is aimed for junior high school students and older. Gauges such as the speedometer operate in tandem with the operation of the train, and there is even vibration. It’s a simulation where you can even try tossing coal into the fire chamber. If you are familiar with the construction of a steam engine, then you must try it at least once. Operation of the mini-trains is for Grade 1 elementary school students and older. The mini-trains can hold 3 people and run a loop on a 300-meter railroad track. There are 10 types of train including the Narita Express and an electric engine. An actual railway system is faithfully recreated. You can also try other simulators without needing a reservation, try being railway staff, and design your own trains. Even if you are not a train fan, this is a museum which you can still fully enjoy.

Admission: Adult: ¥ 1,000 / Child: ¥ 500

Guidebook from Planetyze about The Railway Museum
Reviews from TripAdvisor about The Railway Museum
Tours of The Railway Museum

18 Jun 2015

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews in Tokyo

“ Nobu was Great ”

Excellent
47 minutes ago Traveler: Daniel -   Tour Guide: Nobu

Nobu was a great tour guide. He showed us around to some key places in the Tokyo area. Fun day with a knowledgeable and neat guide.
read more

“ Wonderful! ”

Excellent
4 hours ago Traveler: Nicole -   Tour Guide: Makiko

We spent the day with Makiko and she tailored our trip to all the sites we were interested in seeing and adjusted our trip based on the weather. She also made great suggestions about other places we should see/things to do on our other days in Tokyo. We highly recommend her and it was such a pleasure meeting her.
read more

“ Tokyo Half Day Highlights ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Caroline -   Tour Guide: Makiko

I enjoyed a wonderful morning with Makiko! She was very knowledgeable and spoke excellent English. She understood I wanted to see as much as possible in a short time and delivered.
read more

“ Wonderful time in Tokyo ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Vivian -   Tour Guide: Mack

We had an amazing time with Mack. He is very friendly and approachable and was very flexible to attend our wishes. Highly recommended for sure.
read more

“ Lovely, patient, and skillful. ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Family -   Tour Guide: YUKIKO

Yukiko taught an origami lesson to three children, 8,10, and 12 years old. She was wonderful! She began with simple objects and moved to increasingly complicated creations as the kids caught on quickly through her patient and skillful instruction. She wore a kimono which they also loved, and really enjoyed their time with her. I'd highly recommend Yukiko to any family!
read more

“ TOTAL SATISFACTION!! Covered a variety of sights and experiences with our charming and fun guide ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Sonja -   Tour Guide: MAYUMI

Mayumi San is a lovely, fun person with great English and knowledge about Tokyo. My 17 year old son and I spent 2 fantastic days ( Mon and Wed) being taken about Tokyo by Mayumi. The first day was in typhoon weather but still thoroughly enjoyable, due to Mayumi’s delightful personality and the thrill of being in this awesome city. She changed the schedule to better suit the weather and we ended...
read more

“ Wonderful Day in Tokyo ! ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Sharis -   Tour Guide: Yuki

I came to Japan as a solo female traveler and figured it would be a good investment to tour the Tokyo area with a local, and I do not regret doing it with Yuki one bit. I spent about half a day with him and we went to the Tsukiji Fish Market, Akihabara, Meji Shrine, Asakusa and the Senso-Ji Temple. He was extremely accommodating (met me at my hotel and traveled with me back) and knowledgeable on t...
read more

“ June 4, June 6-8,2018 services ”

Very Good
1 day ago Traveler: Edu -   Tour Guide: TR Taxi

The tours went okay and all drivers are good especially our driver on last tour, his name is Eddie. He is fluent in English. We easily understand each other and he is very knowledgeable with the place so we were able to see a lot of sights that we would like to visit. Thank you
read more

“ 1 Day in Tokyo and 1 Day in Hakone ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Isabel -   Tour Guide: Dai

Dai provided our group of 9 with 2 fun-filled days. Dai was very patient and accommodated the needs of everyone in our group. Without him, we would not have seen half the places we did! He made navigating the transportation systems of both Tokyo and Hakone a breeze. I wish we had more time in Japan. Next time we will go in early April like Dai suggested. We would definitely hire Dai again!!
read more

“ One Day in Tokyo. ”

Excellent
2 days ago Traveler: Alison -   Tour Guide: Dai

We had a group of four and we were only in Tokyo for the day. What we truly appreciated about Dat is that he was punctual and made sure we got the most experience out of our day. Dai took us on the subway and so getting from place to place was very convenient. In addition, when visiting temples he explained traditions and customs. He was very knowledgable and I would recommend his services to anyo...
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Tokyo

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started