But Omiya is more than just a gateway between differing versions of Japan. Omiya is quintessential Japan. With shrines dating back thousands of years to being the centre of bonsai culture, the city is a rich treasure trove of art, culture and history.
That also means that eating fruit as part of a daily, balanced diet is not a Japanese custom. What you may have grown up thinking of as an after school snack, in Japan is a delicacy, reserved at first only for the noble class, and later for special ceremonial meals like weddings and funerals.
You don’t have to go far to experience the ancient, living practice of Kannon Pilgrimage. One of Japan’s three major Kannon pilgrimages is just eighty minutes by train from Tokyo!
During Hitsujiyama Park's Shibazakura Festival in Saitama you can stroll around the huge 1.8-hectare lawn filled with over 400,000 moss phlox of nine different varieties.
In the ordered days of the Edo Period, the northern parts of Japan were considered untamed lands of deep mountains and wild forests. One of the ways of entering this region was via the Nikko Kaido highway leading from Edo, now known as Tokyo, to Nikko. The early staging point for a journey on this famous road was Soka.
Kumagaya is an easy jumping off point from which visitors can head off to a multitude of places, including the nearby town of Nagatoro for a river cruise down the Arakawa River or some hiking in the ever-popular Chichibu mountains. Kumagaya itself hosts Saitama’s largest annual festival, the Uchiwa Matsuri.
Viewing the reds and oranges of Japanese autumnal foliage on a crisp and clear day is unbeatable. Only one thing makes it better - when it's at night. First things first: where is Shinrin Koen? It lies almost exactly in the center of Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. The nearest train station is “Shinrin Koen” (森林公園), about 1 hour from Ikebukuro on the Tobu Tojo Line.
There is no shortage of exciting stores here. I was surprised by how aesthetically pleasing the mall is, and by how spacious it is! It is well worth visiting!
Nagatoro in the North-West area of Saitama is a tiny, riverside town nestled in the green mountains of Chichibu. If the record-breaking heat in Tokyo is getting to you, take this one-day trip to Nagatoro for river rafting and some famous kakigori.
Sayama Hills is a forest park about one hour outside of Tokyo located in Saitama prefecture. It was the forest that inspired Hayao Miyazaki to create the movie “My Neighbor Totoro.” If you’re as big a fan of anime as I am, then you’ll enjoy this small hike.
Mt. Takao may be the classic day hike from Tokyo, but for those looking to sink their teeth into something a little more challenging, Mt. Kawanoriyama is the perfect alternative, and a deeply rewarding trek...
The Shounin Iwa rockclimbing area is one of Japan's famous limestone rock climbing places near Tokyo. It has around 20 routes for rope climbing, good for beginners to advanced climbers. The routes start from 5.9 to 5.13a on the Japanese Route Grade.