June Saitama ~ it maybe rainy season, but there’s no need for that to rain on your parade! Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, things are quite different this year, with several events cancelled. But if everything goes according to plan the stay home will be lifted on June 1st. And while events maybe cancelled there’s no stopping the seasonal phenomena. The weather will have warmed up. The lavender, irises and hydrangea will still bloom despite Covid. And the fireflies will come out to throw some stunning light on this surreal season of our lives.
Here is a selection of some things that might cheer us up this June:
…art, antiques, barbecue, blueberry picking, boats, camping, dance, festivals, fireflies, flowers, hot spring, kakikori, paddling, take-out…
Some of the fifteen events and/or activities have more than one location listed. Each idea is linked to further reading with additional details, such as access, but you can also see all these locations plotted out in the below Google MyMap:
1. Keep dry under an umbrella… art installation
What is more useful than an umbrella in rainy season? How about a sky of umbrellas! And that’s just what you get with the Umbrella Sky Project in Metsa this June and July. The event was due to start May 15th. The start date has been pushed back, but Metsa intend to start the event the minute the stay home is lifted:
2. Find a charm at an Antique Fair
If you want to get in out of the rain, normally the Kottou Antique fair in Saitama Super Arena is ideal. And has over 200 antique dealers under the one roof. An annual event during the rainy season in Saitama. However, due to the Coronavirus unfortunately this event has been cancelled for 2020. Keeping it here in the hope that 2021 it will be an option again.
But, don’t worry, there is always the monthly (outdoor) antique fair, weather permitting, at Kawagoe Naritasan on the 28th of the month. (This is also subject to change due to the Coronavirus outbreak).
3. Stop and smell the … lavender
Until 2018, the lavender fields in Ranzan where the largest in Kanto. Now they are the largest in Japan. The lavender bloom annually during rainy season. There is usually a lavender festival too, but in 2020 it has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
You can also smell the lavender and see some Irises in the Kuki Blue Festival in early June. I suspect the festival will be cancelled, but the flowers will be in bloom in early June.
4. Appreciate the rain loving flower of June
Not really into lavender? What about hydrangea? The largest hydrangea festival in Saitama is in Satte and normally runs for the whole month of June. But in 2020, the festival will not go ahead. However, thankfully hydrangea grows in several places around Saitama. The Hydrangea at Kinsenji in Ranzan are very picturesque.
5. Hear the muskets fire
We had the honour of being at the inaugural musket shooting festival in Fujimi’s Nanbata Castle Park more than 10 years ago. It started out quite small, but has grown year on year. It is now held on the first Sunday of June annually. At the time of updating this article Fujimi have not indicated either way whether the festival will go ahead in 2020:
6. Get your Okinawa Dance on… at home this year!
Kasukabe Eisa is an annual festival celebrating the culture of Okinawa. Eisa is a type of Okinawan folk dance, but they have other Okinawan attractions during the festival – including a visit from the Okinawa mascot. However, in 2020 this festival will have to be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home. In place of the usual festival they will have air a live performance on June 6th. Information on the official site here.
7. Soak in an onsen instead of the rain!
June is a great month for the hot springs. And we have a great choice in Saitama. Including some award winning hot springs such as Showa Retro Tamagawa Hot Spring in Tokigawa and the excellent Hot spring cafe Bivouac in Kumagaya.
The 2019 version included information for the beloved Seibu Train Festa. Unfortunately, that event has been cancelled for June Saitama 2020.
8. Try some international food
The Koshigaya International Festival is a large and popular event held annually in June. There is food from around the world as well as live performances of dance and song from different cultures:
8. Paddle your feet
There are places you can paddle your feet all year round, such as at the foot spa cafe in Kawagoe, but paddling pools are seasonal. Those that didn’t open in May, should be opening in June. Here is a round up of some of Saitama’s paddling pools:
9. Get out in nature
Although it is rainy season, between the showers it is a good month for camping and hiking before it gets too hot to do either. June is also firefly viewing month in Japan. Several parks and gardens in Saitama have firefly viewing events. There is even a firefly festival in Kumagaya:
10. Ride a boat
Saitama maybe landlocked, but thanks to the abundance of rivers and lakes there are plenty of places you can take a boat ride. For three days only there is also an opportunity to ride on a traditional boat at the Ukiya No Sato Festival.
For the whole month of June and right up to October you can take a boat or dinghy out at the Koshigaya lake town seasonal dinghy park;
11. Pick Flowers
In Japan it is frowned upon to pick flowers without permission. Flower festivals usually afford the rare opportunity to pick flowers without penalty. Not just any old flower – they have a designated area purposefully for picking. One such flower festival with a designated flower picking spot is the Safflower festival in Okegawa on June 15th and 16th.
Despite the rainy season, June is a popular month for barbecuing in Japan. Saitama has many different locations where you can barbecue. It depends on what setting you want. River barbecues double up as a water play opportunity for the kids. Ranzan Valley barbecue is rated as number one by JTB Rurubu for river barbecues in Saitama;
13. Treat yourself to some take out
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak hundreds of restaurants around Saitama Prefecture are offering a take out service. Several of them also have delivery options. You can see the full list on the Saitama Prefecture’s dedicated web page here. And those that feature on In Saitama include:
- Creative cuisine restaurant Modesty for the best Bagna Cauda in Kawagoe
- Healthy yet delicious vegetable OR meat platter from Yururi Cafe
- Delicious light fluffy pancakes from Cafe Matilda Kawagoe
- Kawagoe Bakery Raku Raku
- Hatsuneya Garden also in Kawagoe
- Udon, baum kuchen and more, Kinbue Shoyu Park in Kawajima
The 2019 version included information for the “Jewelry Aquarium” pop up cafe in Koshigaya. That event is on not on this year, June 2020 Saitama.
14. Sample some seasonal food
Kakigori is flavoured shaved ice which is commonly called a Snow Cone in English. Snow Cones used to only be available seasonally, generally from April to October. But in recent years there has been an emergence of specialty all-year-round Kakikori restaurants, such as Kore Ga Kaki Gori. They have a take-out option all year round:
15. Savor some fresh blueberries
Rainy season is also prime blueberry picking season. Hilltop farm in Namegawa have already confirmed that they will have blueberry picking in 2020 from the end of May.
The 2019 version included information for the Kinoshita Circus. However, this June the circus is in Chiba Prefecture.
Have you plans for this June in Saitama? What are you planning to do and / or see? Is there another big event or seasonal activity you recommend?