Japan:A Closer Look at Kanto – Part 2

Jan 5th, 2009 | By | Category: Regional Travel Resources, Tokyo and Vicinity

Saitama and Tochigi are two of the three landlocked prefectures in the Kanto region. Both are conveniently located close to Tokyo and are rich in historical sights and natural beauty.  Day trips can be made to either prefecture but to really enjoy the areas you may want to plan on spending a night or two.

Here are some suggestions for your itinerary and some travel planning resources for Saitama and Tochigi prefectures:

Saitama Prefecture

Kawagoe Buddha Statues Saitama Prefecture is Tokyo’s neighbor to the north and despite only accounting 1% of Japan’s land area the landlocked prefecture accounts for 5.5% of it’s population.  Forested areas make up over 30% of Saitama and residential areas just under 20%.

In early December take part in the Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu Night Festival) which is one of Japan’s three greatest hikiyama (float) festivals and features a finale of beautiful lantern-lit floats parading through the streets to the sound of drums and flutes.

Learn about the history of Japan’s train system at the impressive Railway Museum in Saitama City

Go for a hike in Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park and visit Nakatsu Canyon.

Visit Kawagoe, otherwise known as “little edo” for it’s old fashioned atmosphere and collection of kura, traditional Japanese storehouses.  Be sure to visit the 540 statues representing the disciples of Buddha at the Kitain Temple and do make the time to wander down “Kashiya Yokocho” (Penny Candy Alley).

The Iwatsuki Japanese doll museums offer exhibits of imperial court dolls, hina (Girls’ Festival) dolls, hagoita (battledore) dolls, samurai (Boys’ Festival) dolls, and mechanical karakuri dolls.

Visit the Bonsai Village in Omiya and the John Lennon Museum (Japanorama review and photos).

To learn more about what to do and see in Saitama Prefecture these resources will come in handy:

Tochigi Prefecture

Toshogu Shrine Nikko Know for historic buildings, ceramics and onsen, Tochigi Prefecture is conveniently located near Tokyo.  A day trip is possible but you need a least two days to take in the sights of Nikko alone.

Visit the Shrines and Temples of Nikko, the 10th World Heritage Site in Japan.  The Toshogu Shrine is one of the most impressive.

The kilns of Mashiko have been in operation since the 19th century and the area holds large ceramic fairs each spring and autumn.

Visit the Kinugawa-Kawaji area to enjoy hot springs and, hiking, and fishing or a walking tour of five bridges.

The Trick Art Gallery features “3D illusion through 2D paintings”.

Take in some winter sports at the Edelwiss Ski Resort.

Take in the view of Mt. Akanagi-yama from Kirifuri-kogen Heights or visit Kirifuri-no-taki Falls in the area.

Tour the Nikko Yuba Factory and learn how to make this Japanese delicacy mad from the film that forms on the surface of heated soy milk.

Tochigi Tourism resources:

Odd Facts & Trivia

Nikko’s Toshogu Shrine cost 40,000,000,000 yen in today’s currency (USD 400 million) and  4,540,000 people 1 year and 5 months to complete construction.

Articles in the Japan: A Closer Look series:

Be sure to read “Cut & Paste Japan Trip Planning” for other great resources on travel, culture and current events in Japan.

Image Credit:  Personal Collection & Flickr Toshogu Shinto Shrine

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  1. The Nasu area of Tochigi is also a really nice place to visit.

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