There’s plenty to explore north of the nation’s capital
Rugby World Cup 2019 Travel Guide: Saitama
Known as ‘Just North of Tokyo’ and ‘Greater Tokyo’, the Saitama Prefecture has lots of attractions of its own – including Menuma Shodenzan Temple in Kumagaya City.
One of three major Shoden temples in Japan, it features beautiful carved sculptures. You can enter the grounds for free but there is a fee to enter the main building. Elsewhere in the prefecture, you can take in the buildings and culture of the Edo period in the city of Kawagoe.
The SL Paleo Express has been running for 30 years in northern Saitama and you can view rice paddies, the Arakawa River gorge and the Chichibu Mountains from the windows of the traditional steam locomotive. You can also go cruising down the Arakawa River on traditional boats and take in the Nagatoro Valley scenery.
On the fifth floor of Kumagaya’s station building you will find a rugby bar, where you can try craft beer and locally-brewed sake made by the Gonda brewery
WORLD CUP VISIT
Kumagaya Rugby Stadium in Saitama is hosting three World Cup games – Russia v Samoa on 24 September, Georgia v Uruguay on 29 September and Argentina v USA on 9 October. As Saitama is so close to Yokohama and Tokyo, too, you could easily spend a day off in the area.
Related: Rugby World Cup venues
Take a bullet train from Tokyo to Kumagaya in 40 minutes.
DID YOU KNOW?
Kumagaya Rugby Stadium is a rugby-specific ground, which is rare in Japan.
The south-western area of the Saitama Prefecture is known for producing Sayama Tea, a green tea that has been grown for 800 years.