Summer in Saitama 2020 – Things are a lot different this summer in the shadow of the Coronavirus outbreak. For one, summer holidays are much shorter for most people. Then of course there is the fact that the majority of our beloved festivals and fireworks have been cancelled. Moreover, the closure of most of the pools and wading rivers deprive us of a place to cool down. But all is not lost. There is still plenty of things to do this summer in Saitama, including enjoy several new attractions in Saitama…
Summer in Saitama 2020
First up, not all pools and wading rivers are out of bounds this year. There are two pools that are planning to open to the public in the summer of 2020. In fact, one of them, Seibuen, has already opened a children’s park on the weekend. They will open their pools from July 18th. Read more here.
The other aqua park that plans to open is Tobu Super Pools in the Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro. At this moment in time they are aiming for an August start. They may bring it forward depending on several factors. Also, they (and Seibuen) may end up having to cancel too, if the Coronavirus outbreak worsens. Read more here.
Please note that for both of these pools you need to book in advance to get a coveted spot as they are controlling the number of people they let in daily.
Unfortunately, several of the popular water play areas, including one of the best at Shinrin Park, will not open this year. However, the Museum of Rivers is open and they have an excellent water athletic playground. And while most parks will not have their wading rivers and splash pools this summer, there is always the real deal – natural rivers which are abundant in Saitama Prefecture.
*Summer in Saitama 2020*
A selection of fresh water rivers that are suitable for water play in Saitama Prefecture. You can also fish in some and enjoy a riverside BBQ too:
*Summer in Saitama 2020*
Actually all of the locations mentioned in the river play section above also allow barbecues. On top of that there are several other places you can enjoy barbecue in Saitama Prefecture. I collated fifteen of the most popular BBQ spots in Saitama based on customer reviews on sites like Jalan and Rurubu.
Due to the current climate with Coronavirus you will need to book in advance and / or contact the locations directly for the most up-to-date information.
- Shinrin Park (Namegawa) – Official site | General information in English
- Mangan village (Chichibu) – Official site | Basic Information in English
- Saiko Doman Green park (Toda) – Official site | Basic Information in English
- Misato Park – Official site | Basic Information in English
- Kazo Hanasaki Park – Official site | General Information in English
- Warabi City Park – Official web page | Page translated into English
- Soka park – Official web page | General Information in English
- Akiha no mori Park (Nishi Ward) – Official site | Information in English
- Shirakobato Park (Koshigaya) – Official site | Information in English (The pools are closed, but some of the others services have started again. You will need to contact the park directly as their website is not up to date.)
- Kawagoe Water Park – Official site | Information in English
- Ageo Maruyama – Official site | Information in English
- Sagiyama Kinen Park (Minami Ward) – Official site | Unfortunately I can’t find any English information anywhere online. On the official page they have a phone number for direct contact.
- Inariyama Park (Sayama) – Official site | Information in English
- Shiroyama park (Okegawa) – Official site | Information in English. I haven’t had time to update the blog post yet, but the park opened a brand new barbecue area earlier this year. And actually this is one of the few parks that does have their “Jyabu Jyabu” water play area open this year.
- Hanno-gawara – Official site | Information in English. Along the Irumagawa, famous for its red bridge.
*Summer in Saitama 2020*
In July there are three main fruits you can pick in Saitama Prefecture. Blueberries, cherries and melon. However, the cherries are just finishing up for Summer in Saitama 2020, so I haven’t included information for them. But you will find suggestions for places to blueberry pick and melon pick in July below. And in August, the grape picking season starts and some locations are included below.
The most famous place for Blueberry Picking in Saitama Prefecture is Sayama Berryland. It is also one of the largest blueberry picking farms in all of Japan. They even have an English language website.
One of the cooler places to pick blueberries, and I mean that in both senses of the word, is at the 876 meter high Dodaira Observatory. The Dodaira Observatory is a popular place for stargazing. It was once Japan’s National Astronomical Observatory. Blueberry picking is very reasonably priced. Official website here.
For the amateur photographer and / or the cafe lover, Hilltop Farm in Namegawa is a nice spot for early morning blueberry picking. You can combine picking with a treat in their rustic cafe. More information in English here.
Farm Fumi is located in Kumagaya City in Northern Saitama. The season for blueberries is from July to late August (in late autumn you can pick oranges here). Please note that Kumagaya is notoriously the hottest city in Saitama, so taking necessary precautions against sunburn and heat stroke is advised. Information in English can be found here (click).
Melon picking Summer in Saitama 2020
Ibaraki Prefecture has several water melon picking farms, but here in Saitama we only have a handful. At Kamisato Strawberry and Tomato Picking farm you will be able to pick watermelons between July 25th and August 10th.
Tokorozawa is one of the better known places for grape picking in Saitama Prefecture. A couple of the farms have already indicated though that they don’t intend to open to the public this year on account of the Coronavirus. However, there are a couple that are planning to open, such as at Tokorozawa Vineyard.
Komatsuzawa Leisure farm is a really lovely place to visit, especially in summer when you can try many different activities. They actually have a blueberry picking plan where you can have a barbecue after / before picking as well as choose another activity such as fishing, mushroom picking or sweet potato picking. Also, this farm has nagashi somen in summer. However, there is a chance that may not be available due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Chichibu Fruit farm is a tourist picking farm. In winter and spring you can pick strawberries and in August you can pick grapes. Grape picking actually carries into Autumn when different varieties are ripe for picking. There is comprehensive information available in English on the Way of Japan website (click here).
The hydrangea of rainy season are finishing up, but if you happen to be in Minano you can still see them there for another couple of days. There are quite a few blooms that flower during the months of July and August, a sample hereafter:
One of my personal favorites – sunflowers – bloom in July and August in Saitama. You can actually see them in several locations around the prefecture, but if you want to see a full field of sunflowers here are a few recommendations:
- Shinrin Park in Namegawa (there are also other summer flowers growing in Shinrin Park this summer including Coleus)
- Hasuda (the festival is not on this year, but the farm hope to open)
- Sunflower maze among 1,000,000 sunflower on the border of Gunma
- Kuzuwada Sunflower Farm in Kumagaya are opening this year. However, they have delayed the opening not because of Corona but because of the constant rain!
- Higashimatsuyama Norin Park
Himawari Hiroba in Kasukabe which has 240,000 sunflowers is the biggest in Saitama as far as I know, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to confirm in time for this article that they will open this year.
If you like lotus, Kodai Hasu no Sato is a must visit. Not only because the flowers and park are beautiful, but because the lotus have a fascinating history. Read more here.
Heisei no Mori Park in Kawajima has a smaller lotus pond, but across the road they also have a sunflower field. The park is famous for its roses. Its past rose season, but sometimes you can see a few growing here and there.
Saitama is the largest producer of Salvia in Japan. The Salvia are early this year – they are already blooming in Omiya Hana no Oka (July 2020). They should be in bloom until around early October.
The above is only a sample, there are also Yamayuri, Coleus, Petuna and several other flowers that bloom in summer in Saitama.
For me personally there are only a handful of places I can camp comfortably in summer. It depends on your tolerance for heat. However, even if you aren’t up to tenting it in summer, there are plenty of places where you can stay in a log cabin or glamp with some extra cooling comforts to evade the summer heat. There are so many campsites in Saitama, I’ve just chosen a sample (of dozens) in the Chichibu District.
By and large the Chichibu district is cooler than the rest of Saitama Prefecture. Particularly if you are staying by a river. Furthermore, several of the campsites in Chichibu have cabins, trailers, cottages or some form of accommodation with air conditioning.
Nagatoro Autocamp, one of Saitama’s best known campsites, covers all bases with a variety of accommodation options. Rough it out wild style to luxurious glamping options with most of the comforts of home. There are several activities and facilities for children with river play a big draw in summer.
Waterpark Nagatoro, which is actually in Minano not Nagatoro!, is a similar set up, but with less options and lacking a bit of the je ne sais quoi of Autocamp. But it is also more reasonably priced and easier to get a booking.
Forest Sons Nagatoro is particularly popular despite its hiked prices. But it has a great water play area for kids that keeps them coming back! Their accommodation choices are also more limited, but their trailers are spotlessly clean and designed very well for a comfortable stay.
Midori no Mura only offers cabin accommodation, but due to its high altitude in a natural forest tends to be a good bit cooler than anywhere else. They even have a kotatsu in the room in case it gets cold! In the height of summer that is unlikely, but who knows!
Another place with just cabins is Yoshida Genki Mura. But they are really awesome cabins! Yoshida Genki Mura is located along a river that is popular for water play in the summer. There is air conditioning in the kitchen / dining area and in the bedroom. It is particularly good value for money so it tends to book up fast.
Normally, in summer there are hundreds of events on. Between festivals, fireworks, summer holiday events, pool events, food events…and so on and on and on. However, this year the vast majority of events have been cancelled. And ALL large festivals and firework displays have been cancelled. But there are a few events on, such as:
- The Umbrella Sky Project at Metsa and Moominvalley park in Hanno Village
- Wind chimes at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine.
- Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo in Saitama’s Omiya Civic Center on August 2nd.
- Dinghy Park Koshigaya in Japan’s largest shopping mall – Aeon Laketown.
- Hot Air Balloon Rides in Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park.
- A small fireworks display in Kumagaya (multiple dates).
- Kengo Kuma exhibit.
There are several new attractions opening in Saitama Prefecture in the latter half of 2020. Below a selection of ones that are opening in August. Each of these have further information in English online, just click the “read more” tab to get all the relevant details.
- The Acorn Forest from Team Lab. Read more…
- The Kadokawa Musashino Museum. Read more…
- Kadokawa Restaurant. Read more…
- Hamtaro Cafe. Read more…
- Nolla Naguri. Read more…
Is there anything else you would add to this list for Summer in Saitama 2020? Have you made plans or will you wait this summer out with the Coronavirus situation? We won’t be as active as normal by any means, but I do hope to get in some flower viewing at the least. Being outdoors in a place with few people seems to be as safe as we can get during this virus outbreak. Whatever you do this summer, I hope you have a great and safe one.