Saitama Prefecture, Oji
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Railway Museum - Museum: Omiya
[Open 10am-6pm (enter by 5:30pm). Closed Tuesdays.]
Train enthusiasts shouldn't miss this impressive, expensively produced railway-history museum located about thirty minutes north of Shinjuku in Saitama Prefecture. The showpiece here is a collection of thirty-five real train cars and full-size...
Hikawa Shrine - Shrine: Omiya
This major Shinto shrine was established in 473BC. It is located at the southern end of the massive Omiya Park, surrounded by a grove of Japanese elm trees.
Museum of History and Folklore - Museum: Omiya
[Open 9am-4:30pm (enter by 4pm). Closed Mondays.]
Exhibits at this rather large museum feature archeological finds from the area, including a pit dwelling from the Jomon period. There are also collections of swords and armor, pottery and metalware, and famous 16th-century scroll paintings depicting...
Omiya Park Zoo - Zoo: Omiya
[Open 10am-4pm. Closed Mondays.]
Admission is free at this small zoo located inside Omiya Park. Highlights include a large enclosed bird zone and a pair of frolicsome capybara.
Omiya Park - Park/garden: Omiya
This huge 67-hectare park is famous for its Japanese red pines, apricot trees and numerous cherry trees, and it's an especially popular destination during cherry-blossom season in late March. It's also home to several sporting facilities, a free...

Omiya Bonsai Village

Bonsai Art Museum - Museum: Omiya
[Open 9am-4:30pm (Mar-Oct); 9am-4pm (Nov-Feb). Closed Thursdays.]
Omiya's Bonsai Village sprang into life just after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, when many bonsai artists from Tokyo relocated here and established a community. Bonsai fans can start their neighborhood tour at this small museum, then visit...
Mansei-en - Retail: Omiya
[Closed Thursdays.]
One of the more interesting of the commercial bonsai nurseries here in Omiya's Bonsai Village, it's worth dropping in on after touring the Bonsai Museum just around the corner.
Fuyo-en - Retail: Omiya
[Closed Thursdays.]
Hundreds of bonsai trees are arrayed here in tiny forest-like splendor at this commercial bonsai nursery. The oldest and gnarliest specimens seem to be concentrated towards the back of the garden.

Koshigaya Laketown

Mocha - Cat cafe: Koshigaya Laketown
[Open 10am-8pm (last entry 7:30pm) daily.]
It isn't every day that we get invited to a cat's birthday party, so when the staff told us that one of the residents was having a celebration, we knew we had to check it out. It was a surprisingly elaborate affair, with special decorations,...
Laketown Outlet - Shopping complex: Koshigaya Laketown
[Open 10am-8pm daily.]
One of the three components of Japan's largest mall (Aeon Laketown), Laketown Outlet is one of the country's best outlet malls in its own right, with some 140 stores spread out over three different wings. It's easy to get to by public transit, and...
Aeon Laketown - Shopping complex: Koshigaya Laketown
[Open 9am-10pm daily.]
In terms of sheer size, Aeon Laketown is awe-inspiring - it's basically made up of three very large shopping malls lined up next to each other, with over 700 shops and restaurants plus a cinema complex, department store and supermarket. You can...

Saitama Prefecture

Aeon Mall Kita-Toda - Shopping complex: Saitama-ken
[Open 7am-10pm daily.]
This large suburban mall is located thirty minutes from Ikebukuro station. Food shops are open from 7am, restaurants from 11am.
Mitsui Outlet Park Iruma - Shopping complex: Saitama-ken
[Open 10am-8pm daily.]
One of the biggest outlet malls in Kanto, Iruma Mitsui Outlet Mall has more than 200 shops selling clothing, housewares and specialty goods, spread out over two levels and organized in a ring configuration. There are several stand-alone restaurants...
Costco Iruma - Retail: Saitama-ken
[Open 10am-8pm daily.]
Fifteen minutes by bus from Iruma station, this suburban branch of the US retailer is located next to a huge Mitsui Outlet Mall.
Tobu Zoo - Zoo: Saitama-ken
[Open 10am-4:30pm. Closed Mondays.]
Rare white tigers are the stars at this suburban zoo, which houses around 1200 animals from 150 species. There's also a petting zoo and a summertime firefly area. Attached to the zoo are an amusement park with thirty rides, and a summer-only water...
Costco Shinmisato - Retail: Saitama-ken
[Open 10am-8pm daily.]
This Saitama branch of the big-box retailer is located next to the Lalacity shopping mall at Shin-Misato station.
Ikea - Retail: Saitama-ken
[Open 10am-9pm daily.]
This branch of Ikea is located next to the Lalacity shopping mall at Shin-Misato station; there's also a branch of Costco at the other end of the mall. A shuttle bus links Costco, Ikea, the mall and the train station, although it's not that far to...
Museum of Modern Art, Saitama - Art museum: Saitama-ken
[Open 10am-5:30pm (last entry at 5pm). Closed Mondays.]
Completed in 1982, this was the first museum building designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa, who was also responsible for the Nakagin Capsule Tower and the National Art Center, Tokyo. A lattice-like structure frames the outer perimeter of the...


Asukayama Museum - Museum: Oji
[Open 10am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm). Closed Mondays.]
Run by the city government of Kita-ku in northern Tokyo, this well-curated history museum covers a number of topics of local interest, starting with archeological finds from local prehistoric settlements dating back 30,000 years. The area's history...
Paper Museum - Museum: Oji
[Open 10am-5pm (enter by 4:30). Closed Mondays.]
If you're spending the day in the nearby park but get hit by a sudden downpour, this specialty museum is a decent way to kill ten or fifteen minutes. The rather limited exhibit area covers topics such as the invention of paper, the crafting of...
Banknote and Postage Stamp Museum - Museum: Oji
[Open 9:30am-5pm. Closed Mondays.]
Banknotes from Japan and around the world are the main theme of this free museum run by the National Printing Bureau. Watermarks, holograms, color-shifting inks, microprinting and textural effects - these are some of the many anti-counterfeiting...