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A fun day out in Saiboku; Hot springs and Ham! |HIDAKA

Written in November 2012, updated February 2015 and 2017.

Saiboku is often described as a food theme park, but for me that conjures up images of an amusement park… with sausages! Which it is not. I am not sure how to describe it: it kind of feels like an outdoor mall or maybe a themed village. Whatever way you want to describe it, there is no denying it is a fun day out for a family with young kids.

The brand name Saiboku is most famous for its award-winning ham and sausage meat. It is processed in a factory in this complex, the head office of Saiboku. Many of their products have received food awards over the years, even on an International level.  The resort in Hidaka is as known for its onsen (hot springs) as it is for the selection of shops and eateries. There are a number of eateries on the premises mostly serving pork products, but there is also a vegetable shop and bakery, as well as a selection of fast or finger foods and desserts. On top of all that there is an adventure playground, pig sty, pitch and putt, garden, pond with carp fish and craft workshops.  They often have temporary  market stalls too, that sell anything from jewelry to clothes. The hot springs have further facilities, but that’s a post for another day!

The adventure playground is on the West side of the hot spring and it is free. The playground is actually quite small, with one big combination unit, but it is surprisingly engaging for children playing together up to about 8 years old.  It might be less engaging for a child older than five there on his/her own.  The likelihood of a child playing there on their own is quite small though, as even on the coldest winters weekday, there is always a couple of families knocking about. The play unit has a lot of climbing features and 2 wide bumpy slides. It is beside the pig pen; home to three popular pigs.  There is a tunnel beside the pig sty that kids enjoy running through. This area also has some gazebos, one of which has a table. Both have benches. You can eat food in the gazebos. There is an array of drink vending machines beside the one with tables. There is no smoking in this area, but there is at least one smoking area in the complex.

One of the kid’s favourite eateries in the complex is the “Saiboku Cafeteria” as it sells ice-cream.  They have two different types of ice-cream: soft cream and scooped ice-cream. The latter you can get on a cone or in a cup.  They have vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, green tea and sweet potato flavour. On the weekends you get the ice-cream from a window on the outside of the building (pictured below) where they also sell popcorn. Can you spot the flying pig in the picture!?

The indoor section is quite small and not particularly exciting, but they have high chairs with safety straps in the indoor section of this cafeteria. I so rarely see safety straps on high chairs in Japan that they really stood out to me. They are like the Stokke stepped high chairs.  They also have a hand basin with a step for children to use. In the special needs toilet beside the cafeteria they provide a child’s toilet seat that can be placed on top of the regular toilet seat. I found these little extras to be very convenient for my toddlers. They don’t have a family toilet like in so many places these days, but they do have a changing mat at the entrance to the women’s toilet.  A man could use it too, without having to go right into the women’s toilets. There is a great outdoor seating area outside this cafeteria. It can be used to eat any food bought on Saiboku premises.

One of the places I like to buy a quick and cheerful lunch for the kids on a day out in Sayama is the bakery which is at the back of the meat shop. It isn’t huge, but there is a good selection. They sell nice sandwiches as well as a choice of baked breads. The pig shaped bread filled with chocolate is popular with children. My kids like the sausage roll on a stick.

According to Saiboku themselves their spare ribs are their best selling food. Google reviews confirms this! The spare ribs are sold in one of the many kiosk type eateries; the one nearest the vegetable shop. The building is currently undergoing renovations, but they are open for business. There is always a queue there, but on weekdays it isn’t too bad. On weekends the queue can be very long.

People queuing for spare ribs at Saiboku Ham and Onsen resort

The award winning restaurant, which is near the playground, often has a queue at lunch time on the weekends too. Beside it is a food van with a funny name, Hareru Ya or Hallelujah, that sells crepes. The van’s bonnet is designed like a dog.  Other eateries include  window boothes that sell a variety of pork products such as katsu and skewered pork.

Saiboku has a point card system. Any adult can sign up for a card. It costs 200 yen for a new member, but they have days that the new membership fee is wavered.  A card is valid for a year after your last purchase. You can earn points in the shops, restaurants and hot spring.  For every 200 yen you spend (not including tax) you earn 1 point. Every Monday you can earn double points.  You can also earn “eco points”; 2 points per visit, for not using a plastic bag when you purchase more than two items. If you collect over 500 points you get a 500 yen discount coupon. They occasionally have double points on other days too.

Saiboku also runs cooking and crafting events. They have special plans as well such as entry into the onsen, with a meal and 500 yen shopping ticket for a set price. They also sometimes organise tours that leave from Saiboku to do, for example, fruit picking. The onsen has live music performances a couple of times a month. Each month you can pick up a flyer with the month’s events at Saiboku, or you can check for information on their website (Japanese only):

http://www.saiboku.co.jp/

It can be a little bit tricky to get there the first time, but if you’re using an up-to-date GPS it will guide you. Phone number in the Google Map below.  The bus system seems to be very good and they have the times on their website.

ACCESS

Car

From the Hidaka Interchange, facing Kawagoe, it takes about 5 minutes. Saiboku’s phone number 042-985-0869.

Train and bus

From the West exit of SAYAMA CITY station on the Seibu Shinjuku line take a bus to Saiboku onsen.  It takes approximately 17 minutes.

From the West exit of TSURUGASHIMA on the Tobu Tojo line a bus to the terminal of the hotspring takes about 25 minutes.

 

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

Approximately a 5 minute drive from Saiboku is the Botanical Garden parking lot of CHIKOZAN PARK:

Best of Saitama: Chikozan Park | SAYAMA

Multi-purpose park with Campsite, BBQ, Zoo, Fishing, Sport facilities, Athletic Playground, Multi-use Playground, Beautiful Flora and Fauna. Chikozan Park in Sayama is close to the controversial pr…

Source: insaitama.com/chikozan-park-sayama-saitama-best/

Best of Saitama | Maruyama Park, AGEO

Maruyama park is frequently listed in Saitama’s top 3 list of parks. It is personally one of my favourites.  I love that although the park isn’t massive, there is so much to do and see that you can spend a full day there. I particularly like that they have swings that toddlers can sit into with back and stomach support, which is a rarity in this area of Saitama.  The facilities and attractions in the park, even the zoo corner, are completely free.  Another benefit for families with young children is that the (free) parking is off road and right beside the toddler friendly playground. The only downside is that unless you drive, access is a bit difficult.  There is a bus from Ageo station (details below), but it is infrequent and often packed.

 




 

2013/11/18 13:41It is very pretty in the Spring, first with plum blossoms then with cherry blossoms. It is a popular place to do “Hanami” (Flower viewing picnic).  In summer the wading streams, fireflies and beetles draw families from afar. In Autumn many photographers come to capture the leaves vibrant colours.  You can collect acorns in early winter. On a rainy day you can enjoy free access to the nature education hall. The activities you can enjoy all year round are listed below.

 

 

 

Features

  • Lake, pond and other water features
  • A small “zoo” with petting hour
  • Playground
  • 23 metre roller slide
  • Adventure playground
  • Climbing wall
  • Large cement slide
  • BBQ Area
  • Fishing
  • Firefly dome
  • Nature Education Hall

2013/ 9/21 11:16Facilities

  • ☆Toilets in 3 different locations, each with a special needs toilet with changing mat
  • ☆Water drinking fountains
  • ☆Taps for washing your feet beside the wading river and ones for washing your hands in the petting zoo area
  • ☆A small shop that is open on weekends and holidays

Information

  • The park is open permanently
  • The zoo corner is open from 9am to 4pm; closed on Tuesdays
  • Petting hour is Wednesday through Sunday from 10 to 11am and 13.30 to 14.30 on Saturdays and holidays. In Winter (Dec through Feb) it is from 13.30 to 14.30 Wednesday through Sunday.
  • Free Parking for 500 cars

Access

3326 Hirakata, Ageo, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

TEL: 048-781-0163

From JR Ageo Station;

Tobu bus for terminal “Maruyama Park”; West Exit No. 6 bus
City bus “Gurutto-kun” for hirakata-zyunkan; West Exit. Alight at “Maruyama Koen
Minamiguchi” bus stop or “Shizen gakusyu-kan iriguchi” bus stop

 

 

Saitama. Kitamoto Children’s Park

My favourite park / playground to bring my toddlers to in the Hiki District of Saitama is Kitamoto Children’s ParkClick here to be brought to the Japanese official park website.  I love it,  because it has something for children of all ages.   I like that, in the summer, the playground suited to small children is in the shade and, in the winter, they have an indoor playroom for babies and toddlers.  My two year old loves the giant outdoor mountain trampoline and my one year old loves the swings you can sit in to with safety latch.

Features (please scroll down for photos);

  • Indoor playroom
  • Playground suitable for toddlers
  • Playground suitable for preschoolers
  • Playground suitable for older children
  • Giant outdoor mountain trampoline
  • 35 metre roller slide
  • Climbing wall
  • A water area (summer only)
  • A small zoo; two areas with animals including peacocks and monkeys
  • A stage with seating
  • A nature trail
  • Picnic area
  • Special events

Facilities;

  • A baby room for nappy changing and breast feeding
  • A family toilet with miniature toilet for children, a baby keep, a nappy changing area, a clothes changing area
  • Three separate ladies toilets with multiple cubicles
  • Two separate mens toilets with multiple cubicles
  • On site staff
  • A tuck shop on the weekends and holidays
  • Vending machines

ACCESS

70 minutes from Tokyo by car. Approximately 15 minutes from the Okegawa – Kitamoto Interchange on the Chuo expressway

Address: 3-225 Ishitoshuku, Kitamoto City, Saitama
Tel: 048-592-4050

Indoor playroom at Kitamoto Children’s Park
Family toilet
Climbing wall
Giant slide
Toddler playground
Toddler playground