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Updated:July 2, 2019


Governor's Column (July 2019)

Unusual Tourism Resources

When you think of Saitama Prefecture's top tourist spots, the first things that come to mind are probably Kawagoe's kurazukuri warehouse district and Edo period-style streetscape, or Nagatoro's river boating.
However, unusual places are also becoming tourist spots. First, take for example the prefectural boundaries meeting point in Kazo City. Here, the borders of Tochigi, Gunma, and Saitama Prefecture intersect at one point. Usually, prefectural boundaries tend to lie along mountain ridges or in the middle of rivers, and are lines rather than points. In fact, Kobushigatake, which is part of the area newly registered as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, has a point where the boundaries of Saitama, Yamanashi and Nagano Prefecture intersect, but since it is a mountainous region, people unfortunately cannot freely enter or look at this meeting point.

The intersection point in Kazo City, however, is on level ground. Here, Kazo City, Tochigi City in Tochigi Prefecture, and Itakura Town in Gunma Prefecture are proactively promoting tourism in the area, and have cooperated to create a footpath for visitors, in addition to establishing a small plate indicating the boundary meeting point. It is an extremely rare spot even nationwide, where one can 'visit three prefectures in 3 steps.' There are also a variety of interesting spots nearby, such as the promenade of the Watarase-Yusuichi Retarding Basin, which is registered under the Ramsar Convention, and a roadside station, making it a fun spot all around.

The second unusual spot is the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel in Kasukabe City. This area had an increased number of lowlands surrounded by major rivers, resulting in the flooding and damage of houses and buildings in the case of heavy rains. As a measure against this, Japan built a gigantic underground river, or a giant water jug so to speak. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism started offering tours of the facility, and it soon became extremely popular, attracting over 60,000 visitors in the past year alone, and even being called the 'underground Parthenon.'

The third spot is the Onouchi Hyakkei Icicles, which is slowly becoming a large tourism resource. It came into existence thanks to the creativity and initiative of the Nishichichibu Chamber of Commerce in Ogano Town, Chichibu. The large suspension bridge that spans across the gorge is quite the view, but there weren't many people in sight. However, recently in the winter season, water is sprayed through a hose onto the trees and rocks along the gorge, forming magnificent icicles and creating a beautiful scenery. This has become an important tourism spot for Ogano Town, which did not used to have many visitors in winter. Furthermore, various efforts such as adding illuminations, and increasing the area of the icicles are underway.

Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy Saitama Prefecture by discovering more such unusual tourism resources?

Kiyoshi Ueda
Kiyoshi Ueda