Spectacles of Saitama: 4 Spots to Feel Saitama's Culture and Nature
Located directly northwest of Tokyo, Saitama is often confused with simply being a part of Tokyo, but it’s a city of its own, offering all sorts of exciting locations, attractions and activities. Today we’d love to share a few of those places with you! First, we’ll take you downtown to the largest flood water diversion facility in the world. Then, out to the countryside where cooler, slower waters nurture one of Japan’s older and more aesthetic arts. And no list of attractions is complete without food, so we’ve included two!
Prepare yourself for the uncommon as you bite into the famous Higashimatsuyama Yakitori, or Japanese style skewered chicken! Typically involving meat - usually chicken - and skewered with a kushi, a skewer made of steel, bamboo, etc., they are grilled over a charcoal fire and seasoned with a sweet tare sauce or salt.
Higashimatsuyama Yakitori shakes things up a bit, using pork kashira, meat found around the cheeks and temples, instead of chicken, and flavored with a spicy miso sauce. This delicacy has its roots in the harsh postwar era, as pork was relatively inexpensive, and it is said that people who migrated to Japan from Korea created the original version. Indeed, the taste is quite similar to Korean food. These days, DOZENS of yakitori shops dot the map in Higashimatsuyama, each shop boasting its own unique flavor. Often served with sweet green onions and grilled to a slight char, you’re sure to enjoy this popular cuisine with local beers and sake!
In the Fuubu・Ohayashi area, you will find 20 mandarin orange farms, all offering deliciously juicy citrus fruit with a wonderful balance of sweetness and sourness. And for 600 yen, you can enter any one of the mikan farms, pluck the fruit right from the tree and eat to your heart’s content! Then, when you’ve had your fill, you can stuff a bag full of even MORE of the tasty oranges and take them home as a souvenir! But of course, we think nothing beats eating them fresh off the tree!
●Kasukabe: Metropolitan Area Outer Floodway
Beneath your feet, more than 100 steps down, you will find the most amazing site! Often used as a shooting location for tv shows, movies and music videos, this “Underground Disaster Prevention Temple” is actually an enormous pressure controlled water tank that helps weaken the momentum of water, and to reduce the frequency and negative impact of flooding during rain and typhoon seasons. Even the giant pillars you see in the photo play an important role. Besides holding the ceiling up, these massive columns which number nearly 60 keep the tank from floating up!
Come tour this subterranean spectacle in one of three different courses! Each course focuses on a different aspect of the underground flood water diversion facility - the world’s largest of its kind - so be sure to check the course contents out ahead of time. Explore this awesome man made cavern capable of funneling out 200 tons of water PER SECOND!!! into the Edo River!
And although the tours are conducted in Japanese, you can download an app for English and Chinese language support. Check it out here!
●Ogawamachi: Washi Workshop: A work of art borne from the harsh cold and pure water
With a name synonymous with washi, or Japanese paper, the paper produced in the Ogawa area has a unique, warm texture, and has brought happiness and colorful additions to the lives of people for more than 1300 years. Visit Ogawa-cho for unexpected discoveries and fun as you find some colorful additions to your life!
Come to Ogawa Town and witness first hand the long cultivated traditions that are still alive. Here, in a basin surrounded by lush mountains, the clear waters of the Tsukikawa and Kabuto Rivers flow, giving life to washi, and thereby to the people in the area. Visit the Ogawa Town Washi Experience Learning Center where you can experience the history and tradition yourself!
Washi has become a popular souvenir for tourists and fans of fine stationeries. But the washi production process is so particular that it is recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage asset. At a local road-side station, or michi-no-eki, you can either purchase some washi as a souvenir, or participate in a washi workshop, and create your own postcards that can be sent to you (within Japan) after they have dried.
Make sure Saitama Prefecture is on the itinerary for your next visit to Japan! There are so many places to visit and so much to see!
Visit Chokotabi Saitama website to read more articles about Saitama. In addition to the topics we covered here, you'll find more about:
・Food and drink:
・Cherry blossom spots:
・Old highway of Saitama:
Which places were most attractive to you? Where will you go first?