6 Things to do in Saitama, Japan this Autumn Season

6 Things to do in Saitama, Japan this Autumn Season
As with many Prefectures in Japan, its capital city is the same as its name. Saitama (Saitama-shi) is a city found in the Saitama Prefecture.

The Prefecture itself sits in the middle of Japan and is considered a part of the Greater Tokyo Area. Located in Honshu island’s Kantō region, it is home to forty cities and eight districts, which are further divided into towns. It is easily accessible from Tokyo – around a 15 to a 12-minute train ride, and is great for those who are tired of the bustle of the inner city of Tokyo. If you’re in Tokyo and a change of scenery, breath of fresh air, or some exciting, outdoorsy activities, Saitama is the place to go to.




The History of Saitama, Japan

Names and places change throughout the course of time, and Saitama is no stranger to this phenomenon. It was made up of ancient provinces, one of them being Chichibu Province (the western area of present-day Saitama), the other, old Musashi Province. Emperor Sujin ruled over the province of Chichibu for 67 years, along with 136 other provinces.

By the 8th century – also known as the Keiun era in Japan - discoveries of abundant copper deposits in the district of Chichibu were being made. As the centuries would pass by, the area of Saitama would be known for its agriculture production, thanks to the fertility of the land. As with the rest of Japan throughout the Edo period, areas in Saitama would be segregated and ruled by different Daimyo, or Japanese feudal warlords.




Facts about Saitama

In terms of geography, the prefecture of Saitama is landlocked, which means that land encloses it. It has many cities, two examples of which are Saitama-shi, another being Urawa. The prefectures that bound it are namely Yamanashi, Gunma, Gagano, Tochigi, Chiba, Ibaraki, and Tokyo. Along Chiba, the Edo River marks the border between both Prefectures; other rivers Tone, Kanagawa, Arakawa, and Tama all mark different borders around Saitama. Mountains, hills, plateaus, and lowlands make up several parts of the region.

It measures 3,798.08 square km, while its capital Saitama-shi scores at 217.43 square km, its population at 1,266,656. The prefecture’s current governor is Kiyoshi Ueda. It has 63 municipalities under its 8 districts. It is symbolized by a flower (Primrose), tree (Keyaki), and bird (Eurasian collared dove). Its current mascot is Kobaton, who is a Eurasian collared dove himself. He was inaugurated as such in 2005, complete with a ceremony and the governor’s letter of appointment.

Back to Saitamashi – did you know that when the name of this city is written down, it is done so in Hiragana? Most cities in Japan use Kanji when they’re written down. In fact, it’s the only city that has the same name as its Prefecture (called a prefectural capital) in all of Japan that is written in Hiragana. It also has 10 wards (one of them being Omiya), each ward set with its own color for identification.




Things To Do in Saitama this Autumn

1. Watch the Rugby World Cup Match
Saitama City, just a 40-minute train ride from Kumagaya Stadium, will host three Rugby World Cup matches, including Russia vs. Samoa (Sept 24), Georgia vs. Uruguay (Sept 29) and Argentina vs the USA (Oct 9).

Saitama City is just 25 minutes traveling from Tokyo by train.






2. Experience the Japanese sake sample tasting while riding at The SL Paleo Express
Rugby World Cup host city Kumagaya is offering international rugby fans the chance to sample Japanese sake while riding on its scenic mountain train.

The SL Paleo Express is a steam locomotive that runs through Chichibu between Kumagaya City and Chichibu City in Saitama Prefecture. From September 1 through October 14, the retro train will be decked out in rugby paraphernalia and feature a bar offering a selection of locally brewed rice wine. Passengers can try different types of sake while enjoying the scenery of the Arakawa gorge and the Chichibu mountains.

The SL Paleo Express
The SL Paleo Express



Date: The train will operate every Saturday, Sunday, public holiday and on the days of matches at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium between September 1 and October 14.

Time: The SL Paleo Express makes one return journey in a day, departing from Kumagaya Station at 10:10 a.m.

Price: Tickets for a seat on the SL Paleo Express cost JPY720 (for a reserved seat) and JPY510 (regular seat), plus the regular train fare between your chosen stops. Sake on the train will be priced at JPY500 per glass. The ticket price will increase from October. Book online (Japanese) or on the day at Kumagaya Station.


3. Check the amazing rice paddy art
Locals are keen to welcome visitors from overseas and join in on the rugby celebrations. Gyoda City is showing its support for the Japanese national rugby team with its impressive rugby-themed rice paddy art.

Rice paddy art
Rice paddy art



4. Visit the famous Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
To better understand the culture, visitors can head to the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum. Here, visitors will learn all about the traditional Japanese art of using cultivation techniques to craft shrubs into beautiful, miniature trees. And if you are a devoted green-thumb looking to further knowledge on this traditional art-form, the bonsai class is a good choice. Visitors can hire a free yukata (traditional Japanese robe) to gain deeper cultural immersion.

Omiya Bonsai Garden
Omiya Bonsai Garden



5. Saitama City is a must-see destination for sports lovers.
Many significant competitions will be held in here: the 2020 Olympic Games: Saitama Super Arena will hold all Olympic basketball matches for Tokyo 2020, while Saitama Stadium 2002 will hold all Olympic soccer matches. This city loves soccer. It's one of the only cities in Japan with two J.League teams: the Urawa Red Diamonds and the Omiya Ardijya.

As visitors check sightseeing list off between rugby matches, Tour de France Saitama Criterium on Oct 27 will be much helpful. It's a great opportunity to see the cycling superstars of the famous French bike race competing and to feel the real tour atmosphere at Saitama Shintoshin.

Those in town for the Olympics next summer should take note of the Saitama International Marathon. It runs on Dec 8, 2019, and approximately 16,000 runners will participate. It is the same course for the Marathon Grand Championship Final Challenge -- the final selection race for female 2020 Olympians.


6. Enjoy the special shaved iced dessert Yukikuma
Kumagaya City, the host of three rugby matches for the upcoming tournament in September and October, is celebrating the occasion with a special variety of a famous shaved ice dessert known as Yukikuma. 



Yukikuma is made by shaving clear ice with special techniques. Some vendors serve it with fresh fruit while other variations include chocolate, strawberry fromage (cream cheese), green tea and caramel, and coffee, just to name a few.

Yukikuma shaved iced dessert, called TRY
Yukikuma shaved iced dessert, called TRY

It is available in 32 stores across Kumagaya City, including a limited-edition, rugby-themed version called the "TRY." Available at a store called Mikawaya, this special shaved ice dessert has been created to commemorate Kumagaya's role as a host city.


To check the all-year round activities, you can download the Saitama City Visitors Guide here





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40 comments :

  1. I envy you! Going to Japan is a life dream for me. And this place looks awesome :)

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    Replies
    1. The good thing is that Philippines is only 4hours away from Japan, so it is easier for us to travel anytime.

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  2. I always wish to visit Japan one day! Hopefully this year!

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  3. Great post.
    I didn't know there was so much to do in Saitama.
    Thank you for some cool 'to do' tips

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  4. Japan is really lovely. If I do find myself there, I'd definitely try that dessert but what I wouldn't do would be to watch rugby. I definitely wouldn't because I don't like sports. :D

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  5. When we lived in London before we lived so near a rugby field and every weekend handsome and masculine guys pass by our house. We watch some games sometimes... they're fun and testosterone packed. I'm sure that would be nice if I ever go to Saitama.

    Also the shaved ice dessert is very pretty.

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    Replies
    1. I know right?! What a good way to start a day seeing lots of muscular studs!

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  6. Japan is my dream country to visit someday I love to wear kimono and going to mouth Fuji <3 Kawaiii!!

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    Replies
    1. Air tickets are getting cheaper, try checking Cebu Pacific.

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  7. That rice fields art looks awesome. Im curious, is the art only there for the game or will it change each harvest time?
    Id also love to try some of that shaved ice. Green tea for me please 🙂

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    Replies
    1. It does change after the Rugby season. Maybe next time they create a new design :D

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  8. I never been to Japan until now but we are planning to go next year. It looks beautiful there in the Autumn

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    Replies
    1. Each season, Japan always showcase its unique beauty.

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  9. So many amazing things to do! That shaved ice looks amazing!

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  10. These all look like great things to do. I only recently heard of that shaved ice treat - it looks so interesting! Japan sounds like an amazing place to visit.

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    1. You are right, plus you will learn about their unique culture and maybe gain more new knowledge too!

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  11. thanks for all the trivia. and the rice paddy art is the most impressive, ha.

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  12. Love the autumn season of Japan because of the red, orange and yellow color of the leaves. Try also the Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki prefecture every season the park has different color of flowers and plants depending on the season.

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    Replies
    1. Yay! We will do that next autumn. We missed that :D

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  13. That artsy paddy art caught my eye! I loved it! I would love to visit Japan soon!

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    Replies
    1. Imagine the dedication and time they spent on planning and planting of these rice!

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  14. My next dream destination! I've read a lot of travel reviews or tips about Japan kaya super excited na ako to visit it! Thanks for this info!

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  15. Wow! Rice paddies yan? Ang galing. The creativity and accuracy involved in creating that is impressive.

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    Replies
    1. Amazing truly! Then after harvest, they will change the theme :D

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  16. The SL Paleo Express and the rice paddy art caught my attention. It's very nice!

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  17. Urgh! Japan has always been in the list of must-see countries! Looks like Saitama should be in the itinerary too! Bookmarked this post. Thanks a lot!

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  18. How come there are lots of good art in Japan?!?

    Just in this post... #4, #5 and #6 looks amazing! Love that rice paddy art, haha :D

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  19. Nice post, great photos. Saitama is such an underrated prefecture. We have so many cool things to do. And many of them are unique to Saitama. My whole blog is about Saitama prefecture. Over 500 posts and 400 events!! Glad to have stumbled upon your blog. And more than 200 posts still to write. :-)

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    Replies
    1. OMG Thank you for visiting Lynda! I visited your blog and it was amazing :D You did an awesome resource all about Saitama :D

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