Something different in Saitama – We had so many adventures in 2017 and enjoyed each in different ways. However, in terms of new locations for families in the Saitama area, both my husband and I have Santome Konjaku Mura (hereafter Santome) high on our list of favourites for 2017. Santome has actually been in existence for ten years, but the current set-up with the new craft centre and facilities only opened late in 2016. Furthermore, the mini steam locomotive (SL) train, pictured above, a highlight of the resort, only returned to the site as a permanent fixture last year, 2017. I initially read about the improvements and additional features in a 2017-8 magazine about Saitama.
What is Santome?
Santome is one of those locations that is hard to describe in one word, or even a few. It truly is something different. It is also goes by a lot of names, which confuses the issue somewhat. The whole complex including everything mentioned below, and more facilities which will follow in a separate post, is referred to as Santome Konjaku Mura. What I focus on in this post is known as Satoyama and / or the Oak Wood area and / or Kunugi No Mori.
Essentially it is an Eco Park of sorts, with a craft centre, a wood with art made from recycled goods, tree houses, an adventure playground, a shrine, the mini SL train, diggers children can operate, a restaurant, a food van and trailers converted into a coffee shop and children’s reading room. There is actually also other parts to the park, which will follow in another post.
Santome is the project child of Ishizaka recycle plant and you can visit the recycle plant if you make an appointment (click here for information on the plant tour in part 2 of the Santome articles). However, for Oak Woods, the recreational part of the park, you don’t need to make an appointment.
Something different in Saitama
The unique combination of organised events, crafting, a shrine, recycled art and a play area with three tree houses, and equipment that is usually only seen at Spring fairs contribute to making Santome something different in Saitama. And that is not to mention the roadside station, the Satoyama educational facility, the environmental centre, and the recycle plant you can tour with an appointment. All in all, the resort is large enough that they have bikes for rent to help you get around.
The events they organise include crafts, cooking, fruit and vegetable picking as well as outdoor educational tours.
You enter Santome Konjaku Mura from the community plaza marked on the google map below. There is parking in front of the reception and craft building. When it is busy there is an overflow car park further up the road. Also, there is a separate car park if you have booked in to do the factory tour of the recycle plant.
You pay when you enter the facility and they give you a large sticker to put on your clothing that indicates you have paid. They will give you a ticket (pictured bottom left in collage below) to ride on the mini steam locomotive train once; it is included in the entry price.
You can book into a craft or other class at reception if there is still places available, but some of their events require booking in advance. We have yet to do a class, so far we’ve just enjoyed the other facilities.
As a first timer they will give you a map and direct you were to go. You walk through the wood to get to the main play area. You cross over the mini SL train’s railroad crossing to get into the main play park. Within this large fenced area is the tree houses, shrine, digger, moat, adventure playground, grass area, trailers that are used as a coffee shop and a small library, food van and two stations for the mini SL ride.
Where is Santome?
The official address for Santome Konjaku Mura is Miyoshi in Iruma district, but it is right on the border of Kawagoe. Moreover, part of the land is actually in Tokorozawa. (Map below).
How much does it cost?
It costs only 500 yen per adult, children of school age and younger are free in. On weekends only they also charge 500 yen for parking.
The Satoyama / Kunugi no Mori / Oak wood area is generally open to the public between 10 am and 4 pm in the winter and until 5 pm the rest of the year.
Santome Konjaku Mura is one of only a few places in Saitama that stands out for its uniqueness. The kids rank Santome above Moomin Valley, Midori No Mura and the Totoro woods in terms of quirky locations in Saitama. I also rate it high, but it does not quite make my number one “something different in Saitama” spot. Regardless I am extremely grateful to Ishizaka company for creating something different in Saitama. If you like off the beaten path / off the tourist trail locations to visit with kids – either just to play or to enjoy one of the many educational events they offer – this is one to bookmark.
Official Website (Japanese only): http://santome-community.com/
Santome Part 2 – Plant tour
Santome Part 3 – Storyteller museum
Santome Part 4