Find a little bit of everything in this big park, from cherry blossoms to a folklore museum, a shrine and even a small zoo.
Northwest of Tokyo, Omiya Park is an excellent place to see cherry blossoms in Japan, but it is much more than that. Spread across 165 acres (67 hectares) not far from downtown Saitama, it has enough activities for a whole week of fun. Make the trip to see the cherry blossoms in spring. At other times, groves of red pines and pink-flowered apricots brighten the area, while a community atmosphere exists year round.
Stroll along some of the paths, perfect for getting oriented and appreciating the sheer beauty of the landscaping and the trees and plants.
Head toward the Hikawa Shrine, taking a brief detour through a landscaped Japanese garden that sits serenely just off the path. Pause before the magnificent heavy roof, established over a shrine said to date back to 473 B.C.
Continue on to the zoo, which has a small selection of animals. Stop at the petting zoo portion, where kids can cuddle guinea pigs.
Keep walking onward. Let kids burn off energy on the small playground and bumper cars. Learn more about Saitama’s culture at the Saitama Museum of History and Folklore, whose free section offers opportunities to try out kendama and koma toys.
If you’re a soccer fan, watch the Omiya Ardija play at the Nack5 Stadium at the southeastern side of the park. Just north are a baseball stadium and velodrome.
The closest train stations to the park are a 7-minute walk away. JR Omiya Station, with many connections to the rest of Saitama and greater Tokyo, is about 20 minutes away on foot. Get to Omiya Park from downtown Saitama in about 40 minutes by train or 25 minutes by car. Tokyo Station is less than 1 hour away by train. The free on-site parking lots can become crowded during the peak tourist season.
Visit the park any day and the museum and zoo every day but Monday. The park and its attractions are open during regular business hours, with small variations; check online. The sports stadiums are open only during events. The park, shrine and zoo have free admission.