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 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 slightly in the winter in 2022 – 2023 so there is a greater choice of activities, particularly events, this winter. However, things still haven’t gone 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.
Season and Hours: Sunday January 8th to Sunday February 19th 2023 from 8 am to 4 pm daily and until 8 pm during the illumination period on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) between January 21st to February 19th.
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 2023, 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 there are only two more years 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 17th 2022 until Sunday February 12th 2023. 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. Despite that, it doesn’t seem to be coming back in 2023. 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 20 places you can see winter illumination in Saitama Prefecture in 2023.
Season and hours: various – generally until Valentine’s day, on average from 5 pm to 9 pm
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 Van Gogh exhibition that runs until January 9th or the Marvel Avengers exhibition that is on until January 29th. There is also a Lucky Star exhibiton on this winter. In addition, Teamlab have a 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: about a 10 minute walk 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. 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: January 1st to February 28th 2023, 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
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…
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: Saturday November 19th 2022 to March 26th 2023. 10 am to 9 pm, Sunday through Thursday and until 6 am on Fridays and Saturdays. 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.
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.
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.
9. Pick Strawberries
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. Shimura strawberry farm is one of my favorites, because of the little but engaging play area indoors and some fun features outdoors as well as complimentary hot drinks. You will find dozens of other places to pick strawberries in Saitama Prefecture on this blog. For example, in the West area here and in Northern Saitama here.
Season and Hours: Unfortunately due to the pandemic the season and hours were shortened for Shimura Strawberry farm. Furthermore, they have yet to release their information for 2023, but they have said they will open from around mid January.
Cost: This year’s costs are not yet available. Before the pandemic it was generally 1800 yen for adults and children over 6 years old. However, prices are expected to go up in 2023. It will probably be around 2000 yen.
Address: 102 Konuma, Sakado, Saitama 350-0202. Telephone: 080-5028-1062 between 8 am and 6 pm.
Access: Its a bit tricky to get to this spot by public transport. But it is right beside the Sakado SMART exit of the Ken-O expressway. To use a SMART interchange you need to have an ETC card.
10. Play indoor sports
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:
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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12 things to do in Saitama this February