Saitama Part 1: For the museum and history lover | Day trips from Tokyo

Prior to moving to Japan, I haven't been to or even heard of Saitama. I didn't know how much I was missing out on until I started traveling there on my own. Before being invited to go for work, I had already gone many times privately and fell in love with its beautiful nature and the well-preserved historical spots. In this 4-part series, I will be introducing 16 locations separated into 4 day trip itineraries. They have a mixture of different kind of locations and activities that will fit different interests. I hope this will help you discover wonderful new places and help plan your next day-trip to Saitama from Tokyo! 

Saitama Prefecture Quick Facts:

  • It borders the north of Tokyo 
  • 4 of Tokyo Metro's lines connect Tokyo to Saitama
  • The JR Saikyo Line, JR Utsunomiya Line, JR Takasaki Line and the JR Tohoku/Joetsu Shinkansen also connect Tokyo and Saitama
Locations Covered in Part 1:
  • Kawagoe City's Little Edo (Kawagoe City) 
  • Omiya Bonsai Museum (Saitama City)
  • Kadokawa Musashino Museum (Tokorozawa City) 
  • Kawaguchi Brewery (Kawaguchi City) 
  • BONUS SPOT ✨ (Okegawa City)
Kawagoe City's Little Edo 
This was the first place I visited in Saitama prefecture and I have since visited many times, probably at least 4 times a year. The old town area is full of buildings from the Edo period (1603-1867), giving a feeling of stepping back in time. They are famous for their purple sweet potato which can be found in many forms of snacks from ice-cream to dumplings and more. Head to Kashiya Yokocho to find many confectionary shops galled "Dagashiya" selling affordable snacks! You can grab some as souvenir for friends and family back home. 

*A side note: walking and eating at the same time is prohibited in this historical area! Please use the designated seating area, and throw your trash away at the shop or bring it home. Let's keep this precious place clean and tidy 💖

(Above: Main streets of Kawagoe)

(Top left: Kasho Umon's purple sweet potato ice cream, Top right: Kashofumon Kashiyayokochoten freshly made manju filled with sweet potato and red bean paste)  

(Above: Kawagoe's famous clock tower)

(Above: Kashiya Yokocho) 

Omiya Bonsai Museum (Saitama City)
Bonsais are one of those things where you don't really grasp how incredible they are until you start learning about them. Some of these plants are 500 years old or more, and they need to be watered every single day, trimmed, and taken care of. Can you imagine how many generations each of these plants have gone through? Every single one of them hot failing to take care of these work of art on a daily basis. 

There are so many more facts about Bonsais I can share, but you can see it for yourself at Omiya Bonsai Museum. There are 2 sections, an indoor area with lots of information about the upkeep and usage/display of bonsai. The outdoor garden has 60 bonsais on display and they change seasonally. I was fortunate enough to catch many plum flower ones which are so unique. 

Not to mention, the entry is only ¥310/adult 🥲 that is criminally cheap considering the upkeep of these plants. So please go give them a visit! 

(Above: Example of how bonsais are displayed in a Japanese room) 

(Above 3 photos: examples of different bonsais on display in the garden)

Kadokawa Musashino Museum (Tokorozawa City)
This spot is heaven for architecture, design, and book lovers. The asymmetrical building was built using 20,000 granite stones and designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma. Walking into this 5-floor building, you are welcomed by incredible interior design and 80,000 books to choose from. The museum was designed by an engineer, natural historian, and researcher of arts and art education. You can see that coming through with its unique way to displaying books and presenting different topics. 

One of the most iconic spots is the Bookshelf theatre. It houses 20,000 books and has a visual-audio projection mapping show which plays every 30 minutes. Light hits the books and projects different elements such as a tree growing, rain, fire, and so on. It's a vision into the world of books and the story they hold. 

Aside from the books, you can also enjoy a bite at their cafe, restaurant, or bar. There's also a longing area with hammocks and finally a museum store if you wish to bring some souvenir home. 

(Above: The Bookshelf theatre, where projection mapping happens)

(Above: feeling of the books inside the museum)

(Above: projection mapping in the bookshelf theatre)

(Above: unique pens with the museum's building and bookshelves design)

(Above: wooden 3D post cards from the souvenir store)

(Above: "Musashino Reiwa Shrine" by the museum with an LED tori gate)

(Above: the shrine and the museum exterior) 

Kawaguchi Brewery (Kawaguchi City) 
Did you know Saitama has a booming craft beer scene? With many beautiful mountains and and sources of water from its rivers, there are many beer breweries and Kawaguchi Brewery is one of them. 

After a long day of fun, you can grab a bite and have a beer-tasting set. I especially recommend the limited seasonal beer as they are only made once and once sold out it's gone. You can pair the beer with some karaage (fried chicken) or pizza. Lots of other items on the menu are available as well, and the restaurant is suitable for big groups. They also have a 2hr all you can drink deal, and girl's all you can drink on weekday afternoons for only ¥,3000 (2pax) 

If you don't have time to sit down and have a drink, their shelves are stocked with lots of craft beers from all over Saitama! Grab one to bring back as a souvenir so you don't miss a chance on tasting these once of a kind brews. 

(Top left: Kawaguchi Brewery entrance, top right: beer tanks inside the store)

(Above: The range of beer from Kawaguchi Brewery)

(Above: Tasting set ¥1,350)

(Above: Karaage)

Bonus Spot: Benibana, The Safflower Museum (Okegawa City) 
If you are looking to get hands on, then this is the perfect spot. You can try experiences such as pottery making and soba noodle making. There's also handmade udon noodles which are made from 100% local flour. In particular, Benibana Furusatokan serves "handmade udon" made with local Saitama prefecture flour and soy sauce from the local Okegawa, based on the tradition of "handmade udon" that has been eaten in many homes since ancient times. There are many different types of udon in the prefecture, so be sure to try other udon as well!

This renovated private house from over 100 years ago provides a nostalgic and retro atmosphere.

Fee (Reservation required):
  • Soba noodle making experience 2,500 yen~
  • Udon noodle making experience 1,800 yen

If you wish to dine there, reservations are not required. However keep in mind they are closed every Monday.

Official Website here:

English Details here:

More details in this video:

I hope this has helped you discover some new places in Saitama! Please check part 2-4 for other amazing places you can add to your list of day-trip spots to go to. 


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