Saitama forms a sort of buffer zone between the grey sprawl of Tokyo and the mountains of Gunma prefecture. Historically known as an Agricultural region which produced a lot of food for the Kanto region, the lack of available land in Tokyo following the post World War II expansion quickly led to the rapid development of Saitama. With good transport links to Tokyo, the eastern half of the prefecture operates largely as residential and commercial suburbs of Tokyo. Tokyo wags like to refer to it as dasaitama ("uncool-tama"), but don't let them fool you; Saitama has a wealth of unique and worthwhile destinations. It houses one of Japan's only remaining "Little Tokyo"s in Kawagoe, the Bonsai Capital of the World in Saitama's bonsai village, and a complete 34 temple pilgrimage all within the historic town of Chichibu, making it the most doable of the country's major pilgrimage routes for short-term visitors to Japan.
Saitama is divided into 5 different regions, Chuuou, Chichibu, Seibu, Hokubu and Toubu .
The nearest major airports are Narita (international flights) and Tokyo's Haneda (domestic). Buses from Narita to JR Omiya leave hourly and take about two hours, while buses from Haneda take about 90 minutes. Travel from either by train will cost more, save little if any time and involve at least one transfer, unless you manage to board one of the two daily early morning direct Narita Express (N'EX) services to Omiya.
Coming from Tokyo there are various train lines that run into and through Saitama prefecture:
Keihin-Tohoku line - north south running commuter line that runs from Omiya (in Saitama) through central Tokyo ('east' side including Tokyo Station) and down into Yokohama and Kanagawa prefecture.
Saikyo line - another north-south running commuter line that starts in Saitama but runs down the 'west' side of Tokyo, including Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and Ebisu. Turns into the Rinkai line and heads east towards Odaiba and Tokyo Disneyland.
Utsunonimya Line - From Ueno heading north towards the city of Utsunomiya, heads north-east after Omiya. Still primarily a commuter line but fewer stops than the Keihin-Tohoku or Saikyo lines.
Takasaki line - almost the same as the Utsunomiya line but heads northwest after Omiya.
Shonan-Shinjuku line - similar to the Takasaki and Utsunomiya lines except when coming into Tokyo instead of finishing at Ueno it ducks to the west, travels down through Ikebukuro and Shinujuku and then on to Kanagawa prefecture.
Musashino line - heads across Saitama (east-west) from Nishi Funabashi in Chiba prefecture, through Minami Urawa and then back down into the west of Tokyo 'prefecture' (not into central Tokyo city).
Shinkansen - the famous Japanese bullet trains start in Tokyo (Tokyo and Ueno) and pass through Saitama (stopping at Omiya and Kumagaya) before heading to the mountains of Nagano and Niigata.
Namboku/Saitama line - an extension of the Namboku subway line the Saitama line is a dedicated line for the Saitama Stadium (built for the 2002 World Cup and where Urawa Reds football team play their home games). Busy commuter line in the morning and evening.
All the train lines listed in the 'getting into' section have extensive stops across Saitama prefecture.
Also there are many bus lines crisscrossing the prefecture as well as plenty of taxis.
Tobu Zoo This place is popular for families or couples. There is a zoo, an amusement park and a pool. In the zoo, a lot of animals welcome guest. At the amusement park, there are many attractions, including the rejina roller coaster. Each summer, there are many beautiful firework displays. (However, it may be too expensive for some to enjoy, with tickets that cost around 4000 yen)
Washinomiya Shrine Along the Tobu Iesaki line and just minutes out of Washinomiya station is the Washinomiya Shrine, which is one of the oldest extant Shinto shrines in Kanto. More recently, it gained notoriety for being featured as a location in the popular anime series Lucky Star, and remains a popular destination for many Japanese Otaku.
Nack5 stadium Omiya This is the home stadium of Omiya Ardija, a soccer club which plays in J League Division1 in Japan. About 15,600 people can be accomodated in the stadium and the distance between players and specatators is so close that you will be excited to feel the hard work of the players. This is also known as the oldest football-specific stadium in Japan.