Ogose Plum Garden
Fragrant plum or ume blossoms announce the arrival of early spring in Japan well before cherry blossoms come into bloom. The plum garden in Ogose is praised as one of the best plum gardens in the Tokyo-centered Kanto region. Spread out on a 20,000-sq.-meter area, the exquisite Ogose Plum Garden contains some 1,000 plum trees, some as old as 300 years, and is a prefecture-designated scenic spot. The Plum Blossom Festival is held from mid-February to late March each year, attracting numerous visitors.
Ogose Town Tourist Association: Tel: 0492-92-3121
Wisteria at Hisaizu Shrine
Hisaizu Shrine in Koshigaya City is noted for its 300-year-old, huge wisteria which is specially designated by the prefecture as a precious natural monument. From its massive base, the wisteria's trunk forks into seven sub-trunks and its limbs branch out 15 meters east and west, and 27 meters north to south. In early May each year the wisteria bursts into bloom in magnificent purple profusion.
Koshigaya City Tourist Association: Tel: 0489-66-6111
Cherry Blossoms in Nagatoro
Selected as one of Japan's best 100 sites for cherry blossom viewing, Nagatoro Town is most famous in Saitama as the home to beautiful cherry blossoms. In the spring of each year, enchantment of cherry blossom time can be enjoyed in many places around town. Famous viewing spots include the South and North Sakura-dori (cherry tree-lined promenades) along a 4-kilometer-long tunnel of gorgeous blossoms, the 200-year-old "Ohte-no-Sakura" cherry tree, and at Hozenji Temple with its graceful weeping cherry blossom trees.
Nagatoro Town Tourist Association: Tel: 0494-66-3111
Sakuraso (Primrose) Park
The 42,600-sq.-meter Sakuraso Park extends along the banks of the Arakawa River in the western part of Urawa City. It is a preserve for sakuraso (primrose), a nationally designated special natural monument. During the blooming season from mid-April to early May, the park turns into a fascinating flower carpet woven with as many as 1.2 million primrose plants. The annual Sakuraso Festival, held in mid-April, attracts a large number of flower lovers.
Urawa City Tourist Association: Tel: 048-838-7733
Steam Locomotive Train in Chichibu
The Chichibu Tetsudo Railway operates a steam locomotive (SL) train from the days of old on a 57-kilometer section of track between Kumagaya and Mitsumine-guchi. Named the "Paleo Express," the SL-driven train makes the round trip journey on Sundays and national holidays from March through November. The nostalgic sight of the powerful Paleo Express, belching smoke from its chimney, is extremely popular among steam locomotive enthusiasts from all over Japan.
Saitama Northern Region Tourism Promotion Foundation: Tel: 0494-22-2211
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