Useful information about Saitama
General Information about Saitama Prefecture
Saitama is a prefecture that features both urban and natural environments. It has a population of around 7.34 million people and an area of 3,798 square kilometers, making it the fourth most densely populated prefecture in Japan.
Some of the major train stations in Saitama include Omiya and Urawa, both of which serve as interchange stations. The Omiya Station area features numerous department stores, restaurants, and apparel shops, and is a popular area with many young Japanese. On the other hand, the Urawa Station area is home to various department stores as well as the Saitama Prefectural Government Office and the Saitama City Hall, making it the seat of the local government. Several trains and buses connect the urban center of Saitama to the other areas of the prefecture, making access quite convenient.
The western side of the prefecture includes rural cities such as Chichibu and Iruma, which feature both rich natural areas and commercial complexes. Chichibu is fairly accessible from metropolitan Tokyo and is a popular nature vacation spot for Tokyo residents. Iruma is famous for its outlet mall and is a popular shopping area for tourists.
Foreign Residents in Saitama Prefecture
As of December 2019, there are 196,043 foreign residents living in Saitama Prefecture. In terms of nationality, Chinese nationals are by far the most in number, with a population of 75,884. Next comes Vietnamese with 22,912 residents, followed by Filipinos, Koreans, Brazilians, Nepalese, Peruvians, Thai, Taiwanese, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Americans. There are a total of 160 different foreign nationalities living in Saitama. By prefecture, Saitama has the fifth largest number of foreign residents, behind Tokyo, Aichi, Osaka, and Kanagawa
Data source: Saitama Prefectural Government "Saitama Prefecture Foreign Resident Population" (12 August 2020)
Popular Residential Areas in Saitama Prefecture
The most popular residential area for foreigners in Saitama Prefecture is Omiya in Saitama City. Omiya has the largest commercial and business district in the prefecture, making it a very vibrant area. Access to Tokyo from Omiya is quite convenient, and Omiya Station is also a Shinkansen stop, making travel to other prefectures fairly easy. The area around Omiya Station is home to many department stores, making it a popular place for shopping.
Another popular residential area is Urawa in Saitama City. Urawa has an atmosphere of calm and safety, but it is also replete with shopping centers and restaurants, making it an adequately livable area. It also has convenient access by train to Tokyo as well as Yokohama with no transfers required.
A little bit farther from the urban center, some fairly popular residential areas include Tokorozawa and Kawagoe. Tokorozawa has an idyllic townscape with rich greenery, and its station area is fairly metropolitan, with plenty of shops and restaurants. Kawagoe has broad but quiet residential zones, and is rich in nature and culture, but still offers a variety of shopping and dining options.
Transportation in Saitama Prefecture
Saitama has an extensive transportation network that interconnects every area in the prefecture. Major railway operators in Saitama include JR East, Tobu, Seibu, and the Tokyo Metro subway. There is also the Saitama Rapid Railway Line which serves as the main means of transport to Saitama Stadium, and the Tsukuba Express which runs through Saitama as it connects Tokyo to Ibaraki Prefecture. Some of the prominent JR East lines running through Saitama include the Saikyo Line and the Keihin-Tohoku Line. The Saikyo Line is the main JR line connecting Saitama and Tokyo, and is known for becoming overcrowded during the morning rush hour, with delays a common occurrence. The Keihin-Tohoku Line runs from Omiya to Yokohama, passing through major areas in Tokyo along the way. Tobu Railway has trains going to Ikebukuro in Tokyo and Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture, while Seibu Railway has trains going to Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. The Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line and Fukutoshin Line run from Wako in Saitama to various areas in Tokyo.
Saitama also has an extensive network of buses that supports the transportation needs of its residents. The main bus operators are Tobu Bus and Seibu Bus, offering various routes in the urban areas of the prefecture. In the rural areas, there are sightseeing buses that stop at prominent tourist locations.
Expressways also play an important part in the transportation of Saitama, providing access to Tokyo and other prefectures. Major expressways passing through Saitama include the Tohoku Expressway, the Kan-etsu Expressway, the Joban Expressway, the Tokyo-Gaikan Expressway, the Ken-O Expressway, and the Shuto Expressway
Recommended Sightseeing Spots in Saitama Prefecture
There are many tourist attractions in Saitama Prefecture, from amusement parks to nature-rich areas. One famous amusement park is the Seibu-en Yuenchi located in Tokorozawa City. It features various rides and attractions, including a Ferris wheel with a view of the Sayama mountains. It is also holds various events all year round.
If you're more into nature, a good place to visit is the scenic Nagatoro Gorge in the Chichibu area. It has been designated as a Natural Monument of Japan, and is famous for its beautiful rock formations such as the "Iwadatami" and "Chichibu-Sekiheki". You can ride a boat to enjoy the scenery along the gorge.