To celebrate the Shincha Harvest, literally “new tea” or as we might say in English “first tea” of the season, Sayama has a tea and flower festival on April 29th. Sayama is very famous for green tea, probably the most famous area in the Kanto region (area around Tokyo).
They not only sell and sample green tea at this event, but they also give regular people the very rare chance to pick tea. They also have other events organised for the day including a competition. They will be giving out flowers at two different times in the day too, something that is also very rare in Japan.
This weekend we are once again spoiled for choice with the quantity and variety of festivals and fireworks being held in various locations in Saitama. Here is a small sample of the festivals and fireworks on offer on SATURDAY the 6th of August. We have everything from super size fireworks to smaller local affairs. From mammoth crowd-drawing festivals to traditional lower key ritual celebrations. Wherever you go, do plan for crowds, heat and fun galore!
Todabashi fireworks are one of the biggest in Saitama. Approximately 12,000 fireworks are launched including starmines and shakudama. The displays are set to music. They normally have fireworks that explode into the face of a famous character. Last year, it was some Yokai Watch characters. The fireworks are launched near Toda’s race course with prime viewing along the riverside. You can walk from Toda Park station. The Itabashi Fireworks are held in conjunction with Todabashi. They estimate 52,000 spectators view on the Itabashi side and 42,000 on the Toda side. You can reserve a viewing spot at a price on the official website (below). Queries to Todabashi Firework Committee at 048-431-0206
Time: 7 to 8.30 pm Access: Approximately a 20 minute walk from Takasaki Line JR Toda Koen station URL: www.todabashi-hanabi.jp.
Sayama City Irumagawa Tanabata Festival & Fireworks
Listed in the top 3 Tanabata (Star) festivals for the whole of Kanto, this two day festival draws approximately 130,000 people annually. The city displays 140 tanabata decorations such as streamers and other paper decorations. There are about 300 stalls at the festival offering food, drink or traditional games such as the beloved “fishing” game, where you get to keep any fish you catch with a small net.They will also have some fireworks on the night of the 6th.
Due to all this festival has to offer, plus its proximity to Tokyo, as well as the central location near Asaka station, this 3 day festival is one of the biggest of Saitama summer festivals. It attracts about 650,000 people and it gets great reviews from local and regular attendees. On the 2nd night, this year the 6th of August, about 9000 fireworks are launched from 19.15 and there are 300+ stalls offering festival food and/or activities. They open a stadium before the fireworks so it is possible for everyone to get somewhere to sit and enjoy the show. Time: The festival is from about noon and the fireworks from 19.15 Access: 5 minute walk from Tobu Tojo Line Asaka Station URL: information in English at the official website: http://saikasai.com/wp-content/pdf/saikasai_en.pdf . Japanese information here: http://saikasai.com/
Yorii Tamayodo Suitenguusai Fireworks and Festival
Behold the spectacular setting of lantern floats with the magnificent backdrop of fireworks in this traditional festival that attracts about 70,000 people. There are about 5000 fireworks launched including the Niagara type and starmines. You can buy festival food and drinks as there are about 80 stalls in the main viewing area. There is parking for up to 2000 cars, some of which is free, but you would want to arrive early to secure a place. It can be quite muddy, so appropriate footwear is advised.
Time: 7 to 9 pm Access: About a 15 minute walk from Hachiko Line Yorii Station, 5 kms from Hanazono Interchange URL: http://yorii-kanko.jp/tamayodo.html
Seibu Yuenchi Fireworks and Festival
The Seibu Amusement park fireworks and special celebrations start this month of August. Most weekends you can enjoy a firework show as a paying customer of the amusement park. The beer garden is a popular spot for a good view. You can also see the fireworks from some nearby locations around the park! Although the shows are usually only 20 minutes each, they are very popular and the park can be very crowded during August.
Time: from approximately 7.45 pm Access: 5 minute walk from Seibu Tamako Line Seibu Yuenchi Station and Seibu Line Seibuen Station. URL: http://www.seibuen-yuuenchi.jp/
Soka locals volunteer and band together to bring you this small, but popular fireworks in Soka Park. About 5000 fireworks, including starmines, are launched between 19.00 and 21.00. Last year about 80,000 people attended. Queries to the voluntary team at 048-922-0151.
Time: 7 pm to 9pm, Opening ceremony at 6 pm Access: 30 minute walk from JR Koshigaya Laketown Station or take a bus from Tobu Line Matsubara Danchi station URL: http://www.city.soka.saitama.jp/cont/s1401/a16/PAGE000000000000030153.html
Menuma Festival in Kumagaya
This child friendly festival has lots of traditional activities and festival food for people of all ages. Last year, apart from music and performances there was a bazaar and Flea market as well as kid’s show and Jyankan competition.
A small display of fireworks set to the background of trees. These fireworks are popular with local families. Last year about 5000 people spectated near the Iruma River. Queries to Hanno’s Tourist Board at 042-974-7900.
Time: From about 7.30pm Access: About a 15 minute walk from Hanno Station URL: http://www.city.hanno.saitama.jp/0000001569.html
Furutonegawa Floating Lantern Festival
Between 200 and 300 floating lanterns are sent down Furutonegawa river, including Japan’s largest lantern, during this traditional festival in Sugito Town. There are stage performances over the weekend. Last year the Hanabi were on the Saturday, please note this year they are on the Sunday.
This event will not be carried out in the event of rain. There will be 4 firework displays in total in the Tobu Zoo over the month of August. 2000 fireworks, including starmines and the niagra type, are launched There is usually about 10 festival stalls.
Time: from 7.30pm Access: About a 10 minute walk from Tobu Skytree Line Tobu Doubutsu Kouen Station URL: http://www.tobuzoo.com/event/details/1118/
Apart from the fireworks and festivals on Saturday the 7th, there are also a number of special events on in Saitama. One of our picks is the night zoo at Saitama Children’s Zoo which is only open for 6 nights in August. You can see the dates and more events on the insaitama calendar.
Cats Eye play and sports centre is very like Spocha in Round 1, just not as classy or clean, and the limited number of staff leave a lot to be desired. There is a smell of stale smoke in the areas outside the play area and a damp smell in part of the play zone. The area outside the play area feels quite run down and many of the areas are dark and dingy. However, for all its faults, I think it has great equipment for young children and is good value for money.
The system was quite confusing as a first timer, but once you get in to the play area it all makes a bit more sense. You have to become a member the first time you visit, which involves spending a bit of time inputting data into a computer. It also costs 315 yen per person over the age of 6. Then you move to reception to show proof of identity and to request which package you want. There are a few different types, but with young children you basically need to just choose a 3 hour or all day pack. You pay on the way out.
After getting your membership card at reception you can enter the play area. There are a number of facilities including, but not limited to, the kids park, play house area, costume dress up, fishing, amusement games (which are included in the cost), sports areas with soccer, baseball, archery, golf etc. There are even bowling lanes that are included in the cost, but you need to pay extra for shoe rental. They have karaoke rooms too. You can pay for drink bar, where you can help yourself to unlimited drinks. They have a selection of soft drinks and some coffee too.
Classification: Indoor play area, Indoor sporting facilities, Bowling, Fishing, Karaoke, Children’s play centre, Table Tennis, Dance Studio, Darts, Archery, Batting practice, Costume dress up, Bicycles, Shooting, Computer Games, Trampoline, Billiards, Value for money
Hours and Cost: The hours are 10 am to 5 am. The cost depends on the package. They currently (2016) have a summer package for 3 hours of play on weekdays for 720 yen for school aged children. There is a restaurant in the play area. The selection is limited, but it is reasonably priced.
The nearest stations are Sayamashi and Iriso on the Seibu Shinjuku line. They are both about a 20 to 25 minute walk from Cats Eye or you can take a bus from Sayamashi station. Parking is free. See Google Maps below.
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 canpay 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.