Category Archives: Things to do in Saitama

There is a huge amount of things to do and places to go in Saitama, approximately 400 places are included on this blog. This is the master list of all the fun and interesting things you can do with children in Saitama. On the top menu there is a drop down box under the menu heading “Things to do and places to go in Saitama”. In this drop down box you can see the places of interest in Saitama further categorized under headings such as “Parks & Playgrounds”, “Play / Fun Centres” “Museums and Educational” and so forth.

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

 

 

Athletic Playground at Isanuma Park, Kawagoe

Isanuma Park’s athletic playground equipment is a great fun place to burn off some energy for the kids (and some calories for me!).  What the Japanese call “athletic playgrounds” is what we call “adventure playgrounds” in Ireland.  Isanuma’s playground is geared for 6 to 12 year olds, but I think kids from 3 up are well able for the challenge.  And its a great challenge for adults too.  You often find adults working out on the equipment when there are few kids around.

Other equipment they have that is not pictured include rock and other type of climbing walls, climbing nets, net tunnels, obstacle courses and other type of playground equipment.


Address: 584 Numata, Isanuma, Kawagoe 〒350-0855 埼玉県川越市 大字伊佐沼字沼田町584

TEL: +81 49-222-1301

URL: http://www.city.kawagoe.saitama.jp/kurashi/sports_koen/koen/isanuma.html

Baby colds on Daddy’s 2nd day off

Play-a-day, day 2. Toys-r-us, Kawagoe.

Written Oct 21, 2012. Jan 29, 2017 Toysrus on R254 closed its doors for good.

Since we brought our newborn home 3 weeks ago my husband has only had two full days off, this being the second full day.  As he is self-employed in a rare skill he has to work whenever there are orders in.  Which is a lot lately.

Given that he is off it would be nice to do something as a family, but everyone except me have head colds.  Yes, baby has her second cold in less than 2 weeks; two colds in her 3 weeks and 5 days of life.  Poor little thing. So much for having some immunity left over from the womb and so much for breastfed babies not getting as sick as often as bottle fed babies.  Anyway, I needed to get some practical shopping done, so the only solution was to leave baby with Daddy.  The two toddlers are also sick, but they are on the mend.  They were delighted to hear that Mammy was bringing them to Toysrus.  Our Toysrus is only 8 minutes away according to the timer in the car. (What a great function to have in a car, I use it all the time!)  I usually save outings to Toysrus with the kids in tow to rainy days, but today isn’t a usual day.  The weather is gorgeous though so we will go out to a park later in the afternoon.

Our local Babies-r-us has designated play areas with toys laid out for the kids to play with freely, but the Toys-r-us doesn’t have a set play area. The staff in Toysrus are much more laid back than staff of toy shops at home.  They let children ride the bikes and the cars and play with the toys that don’t come in packaging.   I didn’t actually take any photos today, but below are some photos of the kids playing that I’ve taken on previous trips to Toysrus.

The kids had a great time, the only thing is when I went to pay for the shopping my 3 year old wanted me to buy him something. I tell them before we go that we won’t be buying any toys, but it doesn’t stop my son from asking.  He’s normally fine, but both he and his one year old sister have had tantrums in the past.  They were on separate occasions, but they both did the same thing; lay tummy down on the floor and flailed their arms and legs!  It doesn’t put me off going back though, they have loads of fun there and burn off loads of energy!


Oisezuka Park | KAWAGOE

Oisezuka Park is a small park in Kawagoe, but very close to Tsurugashima. It has a lovely well groomed open lawn that is great for a picnic and / or playing ball, chasing or blowing bubbles. 🙂 Parts of the park are very picturesque and it is popular with local amateur photographers.  There is a lake in the park with some gorgeous cherry blossoms around it. There are also some cherry blossom trees in the playground too, you can see one beginning to bloom in the photo below. It is beside a river, with a nice walkway. 

The playground is basic, but it has some nice climbing and athletic equipment that will challenge elementary school age.  There is a combination unit that smaller children will enjoy.
The parking is limited, but free. The car park is quite narrow, but it takes a Japanese eight seater no problem. Ours is an American 7 seater so I find this car park quite hard to park in. There are toilets beside the car park.

Keiai Ladies “Hotel!”, Saitama. General Information

Keiai Hospital, or as I like to call it Keiai Ladies Hotel, is a maternity and ladies clinic in Fujimi City in Saitama.  They also have a pharmacy, a paediatric clinic and a fertility centre on the main premises and nearby they  have a dental clinic too.  It is a family run hospital, yet it is exceptionally modern while keeping a very friendly and comfortable atmosphere.

Keiai Ladies Clinic LobbyI have had two babies at the hospital and am about to have my third there.  All of my antenatal and postnatal care has been at this hospital.  My children’s paediatrician practises there too.  I can not recommend this hospital high enough, between it’s excellent medical care, superior personal care, choice of ante- / postnatal classes, quality of services and pristine modern facilities as well as much much more.

The ladies clinic is separated into three parts; Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Anesthesiology. The Obstetrics Department looks after pre and postnatal care including labour and delivery and antenatal classes for Mother and postnatal classes for both Mother and child.  The Gynaecology department offers general outpatient gynaecology care as well as family planning, fertility, menopause consultation, cervical cancer screening and gynecological surgery.  The anesthesiology department administers the epidural and anesthesia for surgery.

Reception is open from 8.30 to 12.00 and 13.30 to 16.30 Monday through to Saturday.  Doctor’s official hours are from 9.00 to 12.00 and 14.00 to 17.00, although they see people through lunch if you have checked in before 12.00.  The phone number is 049-252-2121. Afternoons are generally less busy than mornings.  Due to its popularity, it is not uncommon to have to wait upto two hours, and sometimes more, to see the Doctor during the morning hours. Afternoons patient flow tends to be a lot quicker.

There are 6 doctors on at any one time in the Obstetrics Department.  You can request to see a particular Doctor.  There is at least one English speaking Doctor.  I speak Japanese to the Doctors, but when I don’t understand a particular word they are always able to tell me the English equivalent.  There are at least three female ob/gyns. In total, I believe there are 14 ob/gyns including the Director of the hospital. Some of the nurses also have a bit of English.  There is a nurses station beside the examination rooms, a non-stress test (NST) room, an x-ray room, a 4D scan room and other examination rooms in the obstetrics out patients on the ground floor.

There are a number of family facilities on site. On the ground floor there is a family toilet with nappy changing unit and a seat that you can place children upto 15 kilos into, pictured on the left, while you use the facilities! There is also a feeding room near that toilet with instant boiled water available, another nappy changing area, sink, microwave and comfortable seats.  There is a coffee shop for patron’s use toward the back of the hospital. It also houses a baby shop. There is a small garden with a patio and terrace furniture for everybody’s use.  There is a playroom that also offers child minding, beside the paediatrics clinic on the ground floor. For more details, please see my blog entry, “playroom at Keiai”.   There is also a playground on the premises for patrons use.  When you stay after giving birth there is a family shower room available, if you choose to have your family stay over.  (That’s a whole other post yet to come!).

Food at keiaiPrenatal visits are covered by the book of coupons you receive from your local government. For more information on that please read the attached PDF, A guide to living in Saitama. Pregnancy and childcare, from Saitama Prefectural Government.  The cost of birthing at Keiai completely depends on what type of birth you choose and what type of room you opt for.  Room prices (exclusive of medication or surgery costs) for 4 nights for a vaginal birth start at approximately 540,000 and for the 8 night standard stay for a cesarean they start at approximately 600,000, of which 420,000 is covered by the national health insurance.  They have a standard room as well as deluxe rooms, premium rooms and the grand suite.  All rooms have a toilet en suite, but the standard room does not have a shower. There is a public shower and refresh room available.  All rooms have a pull out bed that for 2,500円 can be made up for a family member to stay over night. The grand suite can hold multiple guests. For each additional child you have at Keiai you get a discount. For a second child there is a 20,000円 discount, this is my third child so I will receive a 30,000円 discount.  All meals (their food is absolutely out of this world!) are free for Mom and you receive 3 free meal coupons.   I will do a separate post about the meals and costs for guests in the future.

Keiai hospital has parking available near the entrance of the obstetrics and gynaecology departments as well as a large car park around the back.  There are two free shuttle bus services. One from Mizuhodai Train station which is on the Tobu Tojo Line and Yurakucho Subway and Fukutoshin Subway Lines and one form Yanasegawa Station on the Tobu Tojo Line.  You can also walk from Mizuhodai Station, it takes about 20 minutes. The address is 526-1 Harigaya in Fujimi City.

Kawagoe’s “Children’s Castle” free kids community play centre

Written on August 27th 2012

One of the many things I love about life in Japan, is the multitude of free playgrounds, play centres and activities available to all children.  Below is a photo of my son climbing at Kawagoe Kodomo No Shiro or Children’s castle, a free community play centre in Kawagoe.  This free play centre also has a planetarium on it’s second floor which has a cover charge, but all other facilities at the centre are free.

IMG_1571

There is a large open space on the first floor, where free baby and toddler classes are conducted.  When there is not a class in action the kids can play with toys, but you have to request the staff get them out for you, unlike in other play centres where they are readily available.  There is also a smaller playroom on the first floor suited to infants and toddlers. In this room the toys are laid out for you to use freely. There is a cot in this room for sleeping babies.

On both floors there are toilets designed for children and on the first floor there is a nappy changing unit in the special needs toilet. There is a lunch room on the second floor that can be used for those who’ve brought their own lunch between 12.00 noon and 1pm.  You need to clean up after yourself and bring home your own rubbish.

 

Like all jidokans and jido centres in Saitama, there are a handful of teachers  on duty, who are there to keep the environment safe, run the classes and make sure that adults and children alike are respecting the rules of the jidokan.  They are not their to mind your children, but they are usually very helpful and friendly.  Some more than others! Parking is free. It’s separated from the building itself, just a few metres, but you can walk in from the back which is safe from traffic.

This particular jidokan is not as nice or well equipped as many others in the surrounding cities, but the classes are great. Also, if you live in the area, its nice to have somewhere to hang out.  I highly recommend these type of play centres in general and the free children’s play groups and classes they run.

The centre is open from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Mondays. It is quite a distance from the nearest station, so a bus is advised. There is free parking a little bit away with a ground beside it that you can park in on busy days.

Update 2016:
Review on City-cost.com:
https://www.city-cost.com/reviews/Mg6mw-Serves_its_purpose_but_lacking_oomph_Services_Support_Kawagoe_shi

Saitama Fruit. Grape picking in Sayama

Sayama Grape season starts next week opens this week (August 7th 2016), through to the middle of September. However, you can currently only buy directly from the vineyards and the picking season is a few weeks away yet.

Grape Picking Season General Information

Updated costs for 2016 are not yet available.

Adults: 600 yen

Primary school children: 500 yen

Kindergarten school children: 400 yen

Toddlers: 200 yen

It is a eat as you pick system, but you can pay extra to buy the grapes you pick to bring them home

There are five vineyards in Sayama that I am aware of, all in the vicinity of the Iriso station in Sayama, three of them are outlined below.

宮岡ぶどう園, Miyaoka Vineyard

Address: 1058 North Iriso, Phone: 04-2959-4949 URL: http://www.at-ml.jp/?in=59281/

Opening: 2016 August 7th until early October Hours: 9am to 6pm Closed Wednesdays

Access: 10 minute walk from the East exit of Iriso station on the Seibu Line

 

宮信観光ぶどう園, Miyashin Vineyard

RESERVATION REQUIRED

Telephone: 04-2959-4059, Website: http://www.miyashin.com/ (Japanese only)

Open:  You can buy from August 11th (2016), but picking season isn’t until September 1st. Closes on Mondays  Hours: 9am – 6pm, picking until 5pm

Access:  15 minute walk from Musashi Fujisawa Station on the Seibu Line, 18 minute walk from the West exit of Iriso station

This farm also offers Kiwi Fruit Picking.  2016 the season will start the same as the regular grapes on August 11th. You can pick large type grapes from September 1st.

宮俊ぶどう園, Miyatoshi Vineyard

Telephone: 04-2959-3651, Websitehttp://ktmhp.com/hp/budouen/1  (Japanese only)

Open:  2016 August 10th  Hours: 9am – 5pm

Access:  13 minute walk from Iriso station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line

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

Musket shooting festival! 火縄銃祭

Japan is a country that really knows how to host and enjoy a festival.  Summer time is the main festival season, but you can enjoy festivals throughout the year.  In the summer, most cities will at least hold a firework festival and most also have some sort of flower or nature worshipping festival and other cultural festivals too.  I’ve been to a lot of festivals in my eight years, but today I thought I’d introduce you to one that isn’t mainstream and you may not even know it exists: the musket shooting festival!

The Musket shooting festival is held in different locations on different dates in Saitama.  Last year, 2007, we attended at the Nanbata Castle park.   As far as festivals go it is quite short, but the park itself is very interesting as it is a time-slip village.  The shooters parade through the crowd ceremoniously in their Samurai gear.  They position themselves in front of the crowds and shoot the muskets in to the air.  This is done a handful of times. Afterwards, the men in the warrior costumes, complete with Kabuto (warrior helmets), are available for photographs!

The address of the park is 568-1 Shimonanbata, Fujimi.  For more information on the park in Japanese: https://www.city.fujimi.saitama.jp/30shisetsu/11nanbadajyo/sisetu-gaiyou.html.