Saitama forms a sort of buffer zone between the grey sprawl of Tokyo and the mountains of Gunma prefecture. It's largely residential, with few attractions, and Tokyo wags like to refer to it as dasaitama ("uncool-tama").
However, if you'll be in Saitama anyway, for work or whatever reason, it isn't completely without things to do.
- Saitama — The eponymous prefectural capital
- Kawagoe — A worthwhile day trip from Tokyo for its preserved architecture and old shops
- Kumagaya — The last major city in Saitama as you head north
- Kitamoto — Quiet suburban city
The nearest major airports are Narita (international flights) and Tokyo's Haneda (domestic). Buses from Narita to JR Omiya leave hourly and take about two hours, while buses from Haneda take about 90 minutes. Travel from either by train will cost more, save little if any time and involve at least one transfer, unless you manage to board one of the two daily early morning direct Narita Express (N'EX) services to Omiya.
Coming from Tokyo there are various train lines that run into and through Saitama prefecture:
Keihin-Tohoku line - north south running commuter line that runs from Omiya (in Saitama) through central Tokyo ('east' side including Tokyo Station) and down into Yokohama and Kanagawa prefecture.
Saikyo line - another north-south running commuter line that starts in Saitama but runs down the 'west' side of Tokyo, including Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and Ebisu. Turns into the Rinkai line and heads east towards Odaiba and Tokyo Disneyland.
Utsunonimya Line - From Ueno heading north towards the city of Utsunomiya, heads north-east after Omiya. Still primarily a commuter line but fewer stops than the Keihin-Tohoku or Saikyo lines.
Takasaki line - almost the same as the Utsunomiya line but heads northwest after Omiya.
Shonan-Shinjuku line - similar to the Takasaki and Utsunomiya lines except when coming into Tokyo instead of finishing at Ueno it ducks to the west, travels down through Ikebukuro and Shinujuku and then on to Kanagawa prefecture.
Musashino line - heads across Saitama (east-west) from Nishi Funabashi in Chiba prefecture, through Minami Urawa and then back down into the west of Tokyo 'prefecture' (not into central Tokyo city).
Shinkansen - the famous Japanese bullet trains start in Tokyo (Tokyo and Ueno) and pass through Saitama (stopping at Omiya and Kumagaya) before heading to the mountains of Nagano and Niigata.
Namboku/Saitama line - an extension of the Namboku subway line the Saitama line is a dedicated line for the Saitama Stadium (built for the 2002 World Cup and where Urawa Reds football team play their home games). Busy commuter line in the morning and evening.
All the train lines listed in the 'getting into' section have extensive stops across Saitama prefecture.
Also there are many bus lines crisscrossing the prefecture as well as plenty of taxis.
Tobu Dobutsu Kouen This place is popular for families or couples. There is a zoo, an amusement park and a pool. In the zoo, a lot of animals welcome guest. At the amusement park, there are many attractions, including the rejina roller coaster. Each summer, there are many beautiful firework displays. (However, it may be too expensive for some to enjoy, with tickets that cost around 4000 yen) Nagatoro You can sail down the river on a traditional Japanese wooden boat, taking in the beautiful nature of Nagatoro. Night festival of Chichibu This is one of the best festivals in Japan. It is held yearly on December 2nd & 3rd. This festival is famous for its beautiful fireworks. Shiba-zakura Shiba-zakura is a cherry blossom tree that blooms every year at Hitsujiyama-Koen in Chichibu. The best season for Cherry blossom viewing is from the middle of April to the beginning of May. I recommend that you walk to Hitsujiwama from the nearest station, Yokoze station, on a sunny day. It takes twenty or thirty minutes to get to Hitsujiyama-Koen on foot. You can enjoy the beautiful nature of Shiba-zakura as you walk.
This page was last edited at 01:25, on 21 January 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Ted O'Neill, Jani Patokallio, Evan Prodromou and Michele Ann Jenkins, Wikitravel user(s) Episteme, Jonboy and Thewayoftheduck and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.