Things to do in Winter in Saitama

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. December events here and January events here. February events for 2024 will be released around January 15th. You will also find a selection of things to do in Japan in January (including traditional festivals, scenery and flowers 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 used to have a great selection of ice-rinks throughout the prefecture, but unfortunately we lost several during the pandemic. But we still have three, 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.

This post was amended for the situation with the pandemic in 2020 – 2021, but things have improved greatly in the winter of 2023 – 2024. There is a greater choice of activities, particularly events, this winter. However, things still haven’t gone completely back to normal, so this is still the amended list, not the original list from before 2020. Below 10 indoor and outdoor locations where you can either embrace or escape the cold (at your own risk) this winter in Saitama!

1. Visit one or all of Chichibu’s 3 Great Icicles

Chichibu is famous for its three icicle sites. Of them, only one site, Misotsuchi icicles are naturally formed. There are also manmade icicles in the valley where the Misotsuchi icicles form each year. The other two, Ashigakubo and Onouchi are manmade, but equally impressive and beautiful. All of them have a light up event at some stage in winter, generally the weekends in January and early February. Hereafter, the information for the Misotsuchi Icicles and you can find Ashigakubo information here and Onouchi information here. Please note the start of the season has been postponed a week in 2024.

Season and Hours: the start of the season has been postponed because the icicles haven’t formed, as of January 5th 2024, due to the milder than usual winter. It will now start from Saturday January 13th to Sunday February 25th from 8 am to 4 pm daily. Light up: the icicles stay open until 8 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays between January 13th and February 25th 2024.

Cost: 400 yen for adults or high school aged children. 500 yen for parking.

Address: 4066 Ōtaki, Chichibu, Saitama 369-1901 Japan

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. 

2. Ice Skate

We lost a couple of ice rinks permanently during the pandemic¹. But there are at least two ice rinks open in the winter of 2024, including the only naturally formed ice rink in Saitama – Kasa Ice Rink. There is also the permanent indoor Saitama Ice Arena, which in winter has an illuminated ice rink. But the only other seasonal outdoor rink left is the one at Numakage Park. And they released news in 2022 that it too will be demolished. They plan to tear it down at the end of March 2024. So this is the last chance to enjoy the ice rink, transformed from their 50 meter outdoor pool, at Numakage park. The rink opens late on weekends. There are other facilities of interest in the park such as an indoor pool and yoga and pilate classes.

Season and Hours: Saturday December 16th 2023 until Sunday February 12th 2024. Open 9 am to 6 pm on weekends and until 8.50 pm on weekends and public holidays.

Cost: 660 yen for adults, 320 yen for primary and high school students, children under 7 are free. Skate rental costs 400 yen per person. Free if you just want to observe.

Address: 2-7-35 Numakage, Minami Ku, Saitama City, Saitama 336-0027. Telephone: 048-861-9955

Access: 10 minute walk from JR Saikyo Line Musashi Urawa station. Free parking for up to 150 cars.

¹Ice rinks that closed permanently included Kawaguchi Green Center, which used to be on this list. The ice rink at Koshigaya Lake Town, another that used to be on this list, hasn’t been available since the pandemic began, but hopefully it will be back in the future.

3. See an illumination display

Last year, this entry was for the Valley of Light illumination in Chichibu. It was a brand new large scale illumination display that proved very popular. Unfortunately it was a once off. But, thankfully, there are dozens of night illumination displays you can enjoy this winter – even more than last year. Below you will find a link to a post with 25 places you can see winter illumination in Saitama Prefecture in 2024.

Season and hours: various – generally until Valentine’s day, on average from 5 pm to 9 pm

Cost: free

Address: Various locations in Saitama Prefecture, such as Tokorozawa, Fukaya, Ageo, Miyashiro, Higashimatsuyama, Kawaguchi, Toda and Saitama City, among others.

Access: Various – most accessible by public transport.

4. Visit Tokorozawa Sakura Town

There’s plenty to do at Tokorozawa Sakura Town, Saitama’s newest entertainment hub. For example, you can enjoy various seasonal exhibitions, such as the immersive Salvador Dali exhibition that starts on December 20th and runs until spring. However and rather unfortunately the Teamlab is closing down on January 8th 2024. There is winter light up within the town until February 4th and the fortune telling torii light up is ongoing indefinitely.

Hours: the facilities in Sakura town 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.

Cost:  vary depending on what you plan to do. There is no admission fee to Sakura Town, but there is an admission fee to Kadokawa Culture Museum.

Access: about a 10 minute walk from Higashi Tokorozawa Station. Parking available, but it is charged.

Address: Tokorozawa Sakura Town, 3-31-3 Higashi Tokorozawa Wada, Tokorozawa, Saitama 〒359-0023.

Official website.

Even more information in English:

5. Take a 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 again, it is also a safer way to play this winter! It has been confirmed for 2023 and will start on January 1st. However, weather greatly effects the availability of this attraction. The boat does not sail when there is rain or snow.

Season and hours: all things equal, from January 1st to February 28th 2024, from 10 am to 3 pm.

Cost: 1000 yen for adults, 600 yen for children over three years old.

Address: Iwadatami, Nagatoro, Chichibu District, Saitama 369-1300 Japan

Access: from Iwadatami kudari Line depot which is a three minute walk from the Chichibu Railway Nagatoro Station

More information in English:

This activity replaced the Snow Kingdom in Seibuen, which has not been available since 2020. But there is now a snow park for kids in Sayama Ski Resort…

6. Ski!

Sayama Ski Resort is an indoor artificial snow resort, the only one of its kind in Saitama. (There is an outdoor all year round ski slope of artificial snow in Fukaya City). Sayama ski resort reopened 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.

Season and Hours: from public holiday (Culture Day) November 3rd 2023 to Sunday March 31st 2024. From 10 am to 9 pm, except on New Years Eve and New Years Day when it closes at 6 pm. All night skiing, which is on Fridays and Saturdays from December 1st to 23rd, is from 10 pm to 6 am. There are occasionally exceptions, so please do check the official website for the most up to date schedule.

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 the post embedded below access.

Address: 2167 Kamiyamaguchi, Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture 359-1153, Japan.

Access: 3 minute walk from Seibu Ikebukuro Line and Seibu Yamaguchi Lines Seibu Kyujomae station. Parking for up to 700 cars. Costs 1200 yen per day.

The 2023 – 2024 season at Sayama Indoor Skiing Ground

7. Swim!

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 that are available all year round. However, they are closed on December 31st and January 1st for the New Year. The centre also has a play room with rest area for small children. There are also indoor pools with a long slide in Fukaya. “Patio” is located in Fukaya Green Park. Hereafter information for Waku Waku Dome in Asaka City:

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.

Address: 27 Hamasaki, Asaka-shi, Saitama-ken 351-0033

Access: 15 minute walk from Tobu Tojo Line Asakadai Station and JR Musashino Line Kita Asaka station. Free parking for up to 200 cars.

Official website

8. Take the kids to an 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. The hot spring contains no sodium, which is quite rare in the Kanto area.

Hours: the hours changed (shortened) during the pandemic. 10 am to 11 pm, the pool is open until 7 pm.

Cost: the price was actually reduced during the pandemic. It now costs 1000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children between 3 and 12 years old on weekdays. On weekends it is 1400 yen for adults, children’s price the same as weekdays.  Entry is free for children under 3.

Address: 66-1 Shimoōmashi Shinden, Kasukabe-shi, Saitama-ken 344-0036

Access: Free shuttle bus from  Tobu Skyliner Sengendai station and Tobu Urban Park Noda line Toyohara station. Free parking for up to 1000 cars.

Official website

9. Pick Strawberries

Strawberry greenhouses are a great place to warm up during winter. The temperatures are usually above 20 degrees. Moreover the greenhouses are humid making a nice change from the dryness outdoors.  @Farm is a trendy picking farm in Kawagoe. And Kawagoe is a great place to spend a day at any time of the year. There are indoor options if it happens to be a particularly cold day. Such as the Trick Art Museum, Monolith Bouldering Gym or Airjoy, to name but a few. Or if you book in advance you can interact with some exotic animals at Kawagoe’s private zoo. Here is even more ideas of what to do in Kawagoe with kids. There are other picking farms in Kawagoe too and in neighboring Sayama, Konosu and Higashimatsuyama.

Season and Hours: Mid December to early May. There is one session a day on weekdays (except Mondays) at 11.30 am. On weekends – either 9.30 am, 11.30 am, 1 pm or occasionally 2.30 pm.

Cost: on weekdays it is 2600 yen for an adult, 2200 yen for 10 to 12 year old, 1600 for 3 to 9 year old. On weekends its 3000, 2600 and 2000. Its 200 yen cheaper if you book online rather than the phone. Also, the price goes down from April 8th until end of season.

Address: 1043-3 Imafuku, Kawagoe, Saitama 350-1151. Telephone: +81492488130

Access: Get a bus from either Kawagoe Station or Hon-Kawagoe station to Kasumimachi. By car its only about a ten minute drive from the Kawagoe Interchange of the Kan-etsu expressway.

Official website

Even more Strawberry picking options

10. Play indoor sports

There are lots of options for indoor activities in winter. If money isn’t an issue, you can even try ‘skydiving’ indoors! At Flystation Koshigaya, which was the first ever indoor skydiving facility to open in Japan. There are also dozens of bouldering gyms and trampoline centers – great activities for warming up in winter! My pick for this entry: Spocha. Spocha is Saitama’s largest indoor sports and play center. It is a great center 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 1,490 yen for adults on weekdays. Prices are more expensive on the weekend. 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:

Fun for everyone at Spocha in Round1 Stadiums

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. 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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