Things to do in Winter in Saitama – With the dry and sunny weather, winter is a great time to be out and about in Saitama. The choice of winter-only activities is an added incentive to don some winter woollies and head out into the cold. This article focuses on winter activities or ‘play spots’ – if you are looking for scenery, flowers and / or events you can find them by month. You will find a selection of things to do in Japan in January (including scenery, flowers and events) here and things to do in February here.
Things to do in winter in Saitama
We may not have much (if any) snowfall, but you can still ski and play in snow in the Tokorozawa / Sayama area of Saitama. We have a great selection of ice-rinks throughout the prefecture including one natural rink in rural Saitama. Then there are the famous icicles of Chichibu. There is also a selection of indoor activities such as sport centers, heated pools and strawberry greenhouses to warm you up on even the coldest of days.
However, in the winter of 2020 / 2021 things will be a bit different than ‘normal’ on account of the Coronavirus. Especially as several of the places on the original selection of ten are not open to the public in 2021 due to the pandemic. Below is an amended list of 10 indoor and outdoor locations for 2021, where you can either embrace or escape the cold (at your own risk!) this winter in Saitama.
1. The Otaki Ice festival
Enjoy a winter hike in the stunning former Otaki village to see the Misotsuchi Icicles. While the icicles are formed, the village celebrates the Otaki Ice festival. They will have light up for a few weeks during the festival. It is currently scheduled to go ahead in 2021 despite the Coronavirus. The Misotsuchi icicles are the only naturally formed icicles of the ‘big three icicles’ of Chichibu. There are also manmade icicles in the valley where the Misotsuchi icicles form each year.
Season and Hours: January 8th to February 23rd from 8 am to 5 pm daily and until 9 pm during the illumination period on weekends.
Cost: 200 yen for anyone over twelve years old. 500 yen for parking.
Access: From Mitsumineguchi station take a Seibu Kanko bus headed to Lake Chichibu 「秩父湖」 . The “Misotsuchi” bus stop is the closest bus stop to the icicles. It is on the North side of the river.
Address: 4066 Ōtaki, Chichibu, Saitama 369-1901 Japan
Usually the #1 on the list is Kasa seasonal natural outdoor ice rink in Tokigawa.
But unfortunately they have already confirmed they will not open to the public in 2021 on account of the Coronavirus. They actually decided to open last minute! 2022 information.
2. Numakage Ice Rink
The 50 metre pool in Numakage park is transformed into an ice rink in the winter. The rink opens late on weekends. If you just want to observe people skating you can enter the rink area for free. There are other facilities of interest in the park such as an indoor pool and yoga and pilate classes.
Season and Hours: Usually starts from mid December. Open 9 am to 6 pm on weekends and until 8.50 pm on weekends and public holidays until February 19th.
Cost: 640 yen for adults, 310 yen for primary and high school students, children under 7 are free. Skate rental costs 360 yen per person.
Access: 10 minute walk from JR Saikyo Line Musashi Urawa station.
Free parking for up to 150 cars.
Address: 2-7-35 Numakage, Minami Ku, Saitama City, Saitama 336-0027. Telephone: 048-861-9955
3. Saitama Ice Arena Winter Only Illuminated Rink
The Saitama Ice Arena is open all year round, but for weekends during the winter months they also have a sub rink that is illuminated at night. The main rink is an olympic sized rink. They have all the necessary safety gear available for children; you can borrow helmets for free.
Hours: 10 am to 6 pm for the regular rink, the illuminated rink is open 6 pm to 8 pm on weekends, Fridays and public holidays for the months of December, January and February only.
Cost: 1100 yen for adults and high school students, 600 yen for children. Skates cost 500 yen to rent.
Access: On Fridays, weekends and public holidays there is a shuttle bus from the east exit of the JR Takasaki Line Ageo station. It costs 200 yen for adults and a 100 yen for children. 20 minute walk from New Shuttle line’s Haraichi and Shonan stations.
Free parking for up to 70 cars.
Address: 4-386 Hinode, Ageo City, Saitama 362-0032
4. TeamLab Sakura Town
Number four on this annual list of places to go in winter in Saitama prefecture is quite unlucky to date! On the original list back in 2017 this entry was the popular ice rink at the large mall, Japan’s largest, Lake Town in Koshigaya. However, between 2020 and 2022 this rink isn’t available on account of the Coronavirus. So in 2020 I replaced this entry with the ice rink in Kawaguchi Green center. However, the Kawaguchi Green Center have already said the ice rink will not be available in the winter of 2021 – 2022 either, but due to a redevelopment project. Here’s hoping the third entry for #4 on the list is a charm! Teamlab’s permanent outdoor exhibition at Tokorozawa Sakura Town. Winter is the perfect time to enjoy it with the long nights. Because the exhibition looks best at night when it is illuminated.
Hours: open daily from Wednesday to Monday and two Tuesdays a month. Closes on the 1st and 3rd (and when applicable 5th) Tuesday of the month. Initially the attraction opened during the day too and had two daily sessions. But in recent months it only opens for one session from 4 pm to 9 pm.
Cost: 1000 yen for adults between Mondays and THursdays and 1200 yen on Fridays, weekends and public holidays. 700 yen for students on weekdays, 800 yen on Fridays, weekends and public holidays. Elementary school aged children are charged 500 yen on weekdays and 600 yen on Fridays, weekends and public holidays. There is no charge for children under six years old.
Access: From Higashi Tokorozawa Station. Parking available, but it is charged.
Address: Musashino Woods, Higashi Tokorozawa park, 3 Chome-9 Higashitokorozawawada, Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-0023
Even more information in English:
5. Kotatsu Boat Ride
Don’t let the cold put you off taking a boat down the Arakawa! In the winter months the kotatsu boat is a warm and snug way to enjoy the great outdoors. And with the Coronavirus on the spread, it is also a safer way to play this winter! It has been confirmed for 2021 and will start on January 1st.
Hours: 10 am to 3 pm
Cost: 1000 yen for adults, 600 yen for children.
Access: from Iwadatami kudari Line depot which is a three minute walk from the Chichibu Railway Nagatoro Station
Address: Iwadatami, Nagatoro, Chichibu District,, Saitama 369-1300 Japan
This activity replaced the Snow Kingdom in Seibuen, which is not open this year. Because Seibu Amusement park is currently undergoing renovations and will be closed until Spring 2021.
6. Sayama Ski Resort
This indoor artificial snow resort is the only one of its kind in Saitama. The ski resort reopened this year (in November 2020) after a year and a half of closures for renovations. The new resort is more family friendly with a children’s snow play area.
Access: 3 minute walk from Seibu Ikebukuro Line and Seibu Yamaguchi Lines Seibu Kyujomae station.
10 KM from Iruma Interchange on the Ken-O expressway following route 463 on to route 55. Parking for up to 700 cars. Costs 1200 yen per day.
Address: 2167 Kamiyamaguchi, Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture 359-1153, Japan. Telephone: (04)2922-1384
Hours: 10 am to 9 pm on weekdays and open from 10 am to 9 pm and then again from 10 pm until 6 am for night skiing on weekends.
Cost: Prices vary greatly depending on time and duration. On average it costs around 4000 yen per adult. You can see the break down of hours and costs in this post:
7. Waku Waku Dome
Waku waku Dome is a health centre in Asaka City. They have a number of indoor heated pools including a shallow pool with slide for children. The centre also has a play room with rest area for small children.
Hours: 9 am to 10 pm
Cost: For residents of Asaka 2 hours in use of the pool costs 400 yen for adults and 200 yen for students. For non-residents it is 800 yen for adults and 400 yen for students. Use of the pool is free for children under 7 years old.
Access: 15 minute walk from Tobu Tojo LIne Asakadai Station and JR Musashino Line Kita Asaka station.
Free parking for up to 200 cars.
Address: 27 Hamasaki, Asaka-shi, Saitama-ken 351-0033
8. Kasukabe Yumoto Onsen
There are many onsen throughout Saitama, but some are more child friendly than others. Yumoto onsen in Kasukabe has a nice area for children with an elephant and dinosaur slide into the hot spring. There is also a pool in the resort and you can take yoga as well as enjoy a number of different relaxation services such as a hot stone sauna.
Hours: 10 am to 8.30 am (22.5 hours), the pool is open until 7 pm.
Cost: Weekdays are 1340 yen for adults and 620 yen for children between 3 and 12 years old. On weekends it is 1750 yen for adults and 720 yen for children between 3 and 12 years old. Entry is free for children under 3.
Access: Free shuttle bus from Tobu Skyliner Sengendai station and Tobu Urban Park Noda line Toyohara station.
Free parking for up to 1000 cars.
Address: 66-1 Shimoōmashi Shinden, Kasukabe-shi, Saitama-ken 344-0036
9. Shimura Strawberry Farm
Strawberry greenhouses are a great place to warm up during winter. The temperatures are usually above 20 degrees and it is lovely and humid making a nice change from the dryness outdoors. This strawberry farm is one of my favourites, because of the little but engaging play area indoors and some fun features outdoors as well as complimentary hot drinks.
Access: Approximately 1 kilometre or 4 minutes by car from the Sakado exit of the Ken-O expressway.
Address: 102 Konuma, Sakado, Saitama 350-0202. Telephone: 080-5028-1062 between 8 am and 6 pm.
Hours: From 10 am, generally Tuesday to Sunday, from January 2nd until end of April or early May.
Cost: This year’s costs are not yet available, but generally it is 1800 yen for adults and children over 6 years old. Children between 3 and 6 years old is 1400 yen and for children 2 are under it costs 200 yen. You can also buy punnets of strawberries. One punnet costs 600 yen.
Spocha is Saitama’s largest indoor sports and play centre. It is a great centre to enjoy all year round, but on the coldest of days what better way to warm up than with some indoor physical activity. There are over 70 sports and games you can enjoy in Spocha from Archery to Zorbing and everything in between.
Hours: Monday 9 am to 6 am (open 21 hours), Tuesday to Thursday 10 am to 6 am, Friday to Sunday 24 hours to 6 am on the Monday morning.
Cost: Different packages available starting at 540 yen for preschoolers and 1,720 yen for adults. Costs include access to all >70 activities, games and sports.
Access: Free shuttle bus from the East exit of JR Takasaki Line Ageo Station.
Address: 917-1 Hiratsuka, Ageo-shi, Saitama-ken 362-0011
For more detail please see:
Between the weather, New Year festivities and seasonal activities, winter is a great season in Japan. The locations and activities listed above are only a small sample of the activities and play spots Saitama has to offer in winter. We also have some stunning winter scenery that can only be witnessed in the first six weeks of the year, such as the plum blossoms in Ogose or the Wintersweet on Mt Hodo. Then of course there is all the night illumination. Saitama may not be top of the list for places to visit in winter in Japan, but we do have a good choice of activities, events and winter scenery to enjoy.
Where do you like to visit and what activities do you enjoy during Winter?
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