Summer in Saitama 2021 – Just like last year, summer will be quite different to life before the pandemic. We are still in the shadow of the Coronavirus outbreak in Japan. And with vaccinations having only really begun in May 2021, many of us will not get be able to get our shots in time for summer. It is a concern with the country opening up to athletes from all over the world and their support personnel for the Olympics. We will have to be extra vigilant going out and about this summer. Its probably just as well the majority of our beloved festivals and fireworks have been cancelled again this year. But they are not the only things we will miss this summer, many other events and seasonal offerings are also not available in 2021. However, there is still plenty of things to do this summer in Saitama, with caution…
Summer in Saitama 2021
It would seem that many of the pools and wading rivers are out of bounds again this year. In 2020, at least two pools were open to the public in the summer of 2020. In fact, one of them, Seibuen, even opened their children’s park on the weekend. However, Seibuen went through a major renovation between Autumn 2020 and Spring 2021. It will reopen on May 19th. It is not yet known if the new Seibu Amusement Park has summer pools or not.
The other aqua park that opened in 2020 is the Tobu Super Pools in the Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro. They are planning to open in 2021 again. You need to make a reservation in advance as they are limiting the number of people they let in each day. They haven’t released the start date yet – you can check here for the most up-to-date information in English for the summer pools at Tobu Hybrid Park / Zoo.
Some of the pools in hotels are also planning to open in 2021. For example, the Heritage hotel in Kumagaya (beside Shinrin Park) has an outdoor pool that is also open to the public. They opened daily in the summer of 2020. Moreover, they were one of only a handful of places in all of Saitama in all of 2020 that had a fireworks display. It costs 2000 yen per adult. The pools in Musashino Mura in Kazo City also opened in 2020. The hope is that they will open again in 2021.
Summer in Saitama 2021
Unfortunately, several of the popular water play areas, including one of the best at Shinrin Park, will not open again 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 2021*
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 2021*
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 it is advised that you book in advance. Actually some of the locations will not let you in without a prior reservation. Also, given that fluid situation of the coronvirus, I strongly recommend that you check the official sites 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 2021*
There are five main fruits ripe for the picking in Saitama in summer. Blueberries, cherries, peaches, melon and grapes. Blueberry and cherry picking is generally from around mid June to mid July. Peaches can be picked from around end of June to early September. Melon picking is generally around July. Finally, grapes have a long picking season which starts in summer and goes right through to October. I haven’t included all those fruits in this post, but you will find suggestions for places to pick blueberries, melons and grapes.
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. Their blueberry season is generally from around mid June to mid July.
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. Their picking season tends to start earlier than most. 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 2021
Ibaraki Prefecture has several water melon picking farms, but here in Saitama we only have a handful. At Kamisato Strawberry and Tomato Picking farm there is generally an opportunity to pick melons from the end of July to early August. However, they have not yet confirmed if they will have this event in summer in Saitama 2021.
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).
Hydrangea generally bloom during the month of June. However, the hydrangea are early blooming in 2021, like so many other flowers this year. Check out these 12 cool places for hydrangea viewing in Saitama.
There are quite a few blooms that flower during the months of July and August, a sample hereafter:
Summer in Saitama 2021
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 has approximately 240,000 sunflowers . Unfortunately I have no personal experience with this location. Moreover, 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.
Summer in Saitama 2021
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. The vast majority of large festivals and firework displays have either been cancelled or postponed. But there are a few events on, such as:
- The Umbrella Sky Project at Moominvalley park in Hanno Village
- At this moment in time – May 17th 2021 – the Minami Koshigaya Awa Odori festival is actually scheduled to go ahead (please do check with the official website closer to the time – its linked in the post)
- Tentative: Wind chimes at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine.
- Dinghy Park Koshigaya in Japan’s largest shopping mall – Aeon Laketown.
- Hot Air Balloon Rides in Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park.
- Not yet confirmed for 2021: A small fireworks display in Kumagaya (multiple dates)
Several new attractions opened in Saitama Prefecture in the latter half of 2020 and early 2021. This summer might be a chance to check them out! Here is a small sample:
- Starbucks with an outdoor terrace and playground in Sayama. Read more…
- Oh Hanno! “Fermentation, Health, Food Magic!!” Read more…
- The Acorn Forest from Team Lab. Read more…
- The Kadokawa Musashino Museum. Read more…
- Nolla Naguri. Read more…
Is there anything else you would add to this list for Summer in Saitama 2021? 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.