VIDEO| Virtual Vacation: Northern Saitama, Japan

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

VIDEO| Virtual Vacation: Northern Saitama, Japan

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Guam

Welcome to virtual vacation video series where we can explore destinations from the comfort of our homes.

Join us we take a short virtual journey to Northern Saitama in Japan.

The great thing about this destination is that it is easily accessible from Tokyo and most of the military bases in the Kanto Plain within two hours via car or train. From Yokota, its only a one-hour drive away.

Northern Saitama is home to rich history, natural beauty, unique rice paddy art and a top-notch distillery, which makes the area a short, great getaway.

Some of the must-see spots in Northern Saitama include:

• Shodenzan Temple in Kumagaya City - Shodenzan Temple is a majestic temple designated as a national treasure. While the 52-foot-high temple gate consists of three large gray roofs and brown gables covered in tiny sculptures, the main temple hall is covered in breathtaking brightly-colored sculptures and looks like a large jewelry box.

• Ancient Lotus Park in Gyoda City  - Gyoda City’s Ancient Lotus Park boasts a plethora of ancient lotus flowers which bloom beautifully in the heat of the summer. Head to the 164-foot-tall observation tower for a view of the Guinness World Record-winning rice paddy art. For prime viewing, mid-July is the best time to head to Gyoda, but the images remain visible until the end of October.

• Nagatoro Valley in Chichibu Region - The unique landscape of Nagatoro Valley consists of a mountain snow-fed river running through a white rock terrace and reddish stone cliffs. Traditional wooden boats commandeered by boatmen in traditional attire transported us on the river’s crystal-clear waters to the olden days or into an ukiyo-e painting. Nearby, Chichibu Distillery is known for producing high quality single malt whisky “Ichiro’s Malt” since 2008. The whisky’s distinct fruity and well-balanced favor comes from Chichibu’s severe temperature changes between summer and winter, locally produced barley and pure, clean mineral water. While you're there, don't forget to sample local fish dishes. Among them, aji furai or fried horse mackerel is a must since it is locally sourced, fresh and tasty.

While you're there, don't forget to sample tonmiso, a local delicacy of sautéed Chichibu pork with miso. The tender dish is flavorful and is paired with a variety of fresh, local mountain vegetables.

I hope you enjoyed a look at Northern Saitama through my travel photos and that it's inspired your next trip. Stay safe and get ready to travel with us in our next video. Thanks for watching!

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